I spent a recent rainy day organizing and cleaning out my fishing closet at home. You wouldn’t, or maybe some of you would, believe everything I found in that closet. I bet I almost have one of everything that’s offered in the fishing department at my local Academy outdoor store. It’s really out of control, if there is such a thing! However, I’m not going to bore you with the specific contents of the closet. This is a Texas fishing tale of how some things still work as good today as they did long ago.
My Dad introduced me to the art of wade-fishing with artificial baits at a very early age. I grew up learning different ways of presenting and retrieving plugs, spoons, surface walkers, and plastics. We lived close enough to the water that we could often take advantage of a few free afternoon hours. We’d hop in the car for a quick fishing trip to the Texas coast, and still be home for supper. More times than not, we had fresh fish for the table that night. Those were good times, and fond memories, all.
Rifling through the fishing closet, I suddenly realized how far I have detoured from the basics my Dad taught me. Things were just a lot more simple back then. I remember having three different Queen Bingo lures that I used religiously. One was for fishing in clear water and on bright days. The second one I used for fishing in dirty water, or on cloudy days. The third one was the one I reserved for wintertime fishing. I also had a seemingly endless supply of gold and silver Johnson Sprite spoons. If the Bingos and the spoons didn’t work, all I needed was a strawberry shrimp tail with a white tail. That was it. It was that simple.
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That was close to fifty years ago. Today, I would be hard-pressed to tell you how and why I strayed from those particular basic fishing concepts. Things change, however, and so do people’s ideas. Ideas about what are the best methods for catching trout. Ideas about the latest, and what’s by far the greatest, new lures that are currently taking the market by storm. With today’s capability of almost-instant communication via social media, news travels fast. It doesn’t take long to learn of a huge trout being caught on a new lure. Before you know it, everyone has to have one of those new lures (me included). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve responded like this. It’s the main reason why there’s so much stuff in my fishing closet, most of which hasn’t been used. It’s a shame, really, and I’m just as guilty as the next guy in all of this!
This bothered me enough to the point that it made me want to do something about it. I wanted to test a theory I had ever since I started cleaning out the fishing closet. I was interested in knowing whether my old go-to baits would still do the trick in today’s environment. So, I grabbed a couple strawberry-colored Kelly Wigglers shrimp tails and dipped the tails in some white tail-dip. I let them dry overnight, and tossed them in my pocket the next morning on my way out the door.
I made my way across the bay to a sandy flats area containing some shell in about waste-deep water. Bay water temperatures had warmed to 80 degrees, and there was quite a bit of active bait. There couldn’t have been a better place to test my theory. Tossing that strawberry shrimp tail that day was like reliving my very first contact with the sport of saltwater fishing. It was a wonderful experience that immediately brought back fond memories. Suddenly, I realized I’d released three small trout before focusing on the way I was supposed to be retrieving the shrimp. A couple hours later I’d caught a limit of trout with the shrimp tail, and two redfish on a spoon.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that newer is always better. At least not while you’re out on the bay tossing “Old Reliable” and having your way with the fish. Have fun out there, and be safe!