|Artificial Intelligence By Chip Leer
it possible for man to create something smarter, possibly superior to humankind itself? In
Stanley Kubricks 2001: A Space Odyssey, HAL, a fabrication of bits and
bytes, overran its makers. Alright, fair enough, thats a science fiction reference,
not breaking news on CNN. So lets take it down a notch, to fishing. In an effort to
make laboratory and factory creations look, feel, smell and taste like the real thing,
manufacturers ceaselessly endeavor to duplicate nature. But until science and industry are
capable of producing 100% lifelike minnows, crawlers, leeches, and grubs, nothing will
compare to bona fide bait, aside from cloning, which is a frightening concept anyway.
Okay, so the tackle industry wages anyway, developing, constructing, and marketing.
Why? For one, well forever need a means to deliver live bait sinkers, floats,
hooks, etc. Additionally, many sportsmen relish the challenge of succumbing fish by purely
contrived means. Think about your bass and trout guys, its an artificials only
affair. And sometimes, when the conditions are right, fake beats real. It happens through
the ice and from a boat. For instance, a nastily vibrating crankbait that gets whacked
double time versus a slip-float and minnow. But likely the principal reason why lures and
artificial additives grub bodies, craws, etc. exist is that live bait can be
so danged problematic.
Think about it. How fun is it managing a minnow-bucket on the ice? Water sloshing
about, laying an icy coat on everything, including you. Minnows choking in an ice crusted
coffee can, flailing in slush until they freeze in suspended animation overnight in the
truck. What about those waxies? Stiff as board, dead, unless kept at heated fish
house temperatures or in a pants pocket fortunately, maggots are slightly
more durable, preferring cold, but not freezing temperatures. Dead bait works, sometimes,
on jigs and tip-ups, but youre still dealing with decaying flesh with a short window
So just how does an ice angler operate bait-free? Concerted jigging is the first
solution. Choose a lure that either mimics natural forage or demands notice do to its
lavishness. And then, put effort into making the lure come alive, imitating an escaping or
wounded minnow, combining authentic appearance with minnow motion.
From the visual side, realism manifests in a lures shape and finish. For
instance, take Lindys Genz Worm, Fat Boy, and Coped, three panfish classics. The
Genz Worm, with its horizontal, segmented body, strives to emulate edible aquatic
critters. The Fat Boy, another horizontal creature, copies the profile of fry or baitfish,
and we know what big fish do to little fish. And the vertical Coped, as its name implies,
replicates an actual copepod, a commonly consumed zooplankton.
Another good example of merging realistic shape and look is Northland Tackles new
Forage Minnow Fry. It sports a holographic Baitfish Image with scale outlines and a 3D
eyeball, and the profile of actual panfish fry, thin and round. The same companys
Creep Worm introduced last year carries segmented body parts, making it
appear buggy and consumable.
As authentic as these lures are, times are rare when fish will strike a naked one
alone. They need some help a smidgen of smell, taste, and feel. Take a Genz Worm
and slide on two or three Power Wigglers maggot imitators. The resulting package
caters to all of a fishs senses. Thread a Micro Power Grub or Tube on a Forage
Minnow Fry. Itll shook, jive, and make panfish salivate. Maybe, on your Coped,
instead of a minnow, slip on some Berkley Crappie Nibbles theyre
scientifically formulated to smell and taste real. And guess what? Fake baits dont
rot; cant die; wont freeze and will not squirm out of your hand.
Simulated noise, produced by a rattle chamber, is another means for underscoring live
bait. Grab a Northland Buck-Shot Rattle Spoon or Lindy Rattlr Spoon and dress it
with a swirling Power Grub a wonderful mixture of sight and sound. Lake trout,
walleyes, pike, and largemouth bass will devour this recipe. Incredibly, so will voracious
crappies, bluegills, and perch.
Two other lake trout and walleye slayers are Lindys Flyer and Northlands
Mini Air-Plane Jig. Both are horizontal, winged gizmos that circle and weave. And
youll be impressed at the results of replacing the customary minnow tipping with a
Power Grub or Tube. White and blue-shad are good for lakers and chartreuse-green for
This winters new, high intensity glow will undoubtedly compliment artificial
presentations. Compared to old, low luster green glow, Neon Super-Glo by Northland and
Techni-Glo by Lindy shine brighter, longer, and in colors never before imagined. The
brilliance should magnetize walleyes and crappies at dawn and dusk, overnight, and in deep
and stained water. Illuminating these new glows is simple and potent with Northlands
Glo-Buster and Lindys Tazer, two high output, keychain lights.
What artificials have in common is that if left motionless, theyre ineffective.
Its up to you to give them life; make em dance; be the puppet master.
Achieve realism by keeping the lure moving continuous jigging motions. Not
necessarily aggressive, but constant and deliberate. Experiment with jigging sequences,
including the distances of lifts and falls, and how forcefully you jerk the lure.
Sometimes, allow the jig to freefall after the upswing, other times, control its descent
with a taunt line.
Historically, panfish respond positively to short, one to inch pulses. Steadily pump
the rod tip, pausing occasionally, and watch how fish react on a flasher or Aqua-Vu. This
vibrato is ideal for Forage Minnow Fry, Genz Worms and Fat Boys, lures that are heavy for
their size, and mass is beneficial for angling in deepwater.
In the presence of perch or walleyes, attraction and authenticity can be achieved by
banging a jigging spoon on the bottom. Rocks clack, gravel rumbles, and a cloud of debris
lifts when a spoon slams on sand or silt. The turmoil summons predators.
With artificials, like a Flyer and Power Grub pairing, Tommy Skarlis likes to swim the
bait, circularly, around the hole while incorporating velvety lifts and falls. The lure
swims out and away while the tail gyrates, making it nearly intoxicating to gamefish.
The addition of liquid attractants creates the ultimate sensory sensation. Squirt a dab
of Berkley Walleye Attractant on a jigging spoon and Crappie Attractant on a panfish jig.
And its always beneficial to fortify jigging with live bait on a hook, usually an
energetic minnow under a float or Finickys Fish Factory. Jigging draws fish within
sight of the flavorful minnow the strike zone. Incomers can attack either the jig
or defenseless minnow.
No one will ever claim, or should ever claim, that artificial lures can replace live
bait, because they cannot. But there are certain combos, that when worked properly, come
alive, almost Six Million Dollar Man-like. And high-tech mimicry has certainly earned a
place on the ice.
Editors note: ON ICE TOUR cofounded by Chip Leer and Tommy
Skarlis is an intensive effort aimed at expanding the sport of ice fishing through
instructional articles, seminars, in-store and ice fishing contest appearances, and one on
one exchanges with the public. Learn more about ON ICE TOUR and the greatest of winter
sports at www.onicetour.com