Doc has cure for frustrated anglers

There was once a time when most fishermen would use either live or fresh bait. The few folks that would use lures for largemouth black bass hereabouts would use a Hawaiian Wiggle, a Zara Spook or a spoon. Yes, there were a few other lures, but those mentioned were the more popular ones. The saltwater anglers were at least 98 percent live shrimp for speckled trout, mud minnows or finger mullet for flounder, and cut bait or fresh crab for redfish. Certainly offshore anglers preferred squid, cut bait or some other natural bait. Few folks actually went after the king mackerel, but those that did would likely use spoons for trolling. Those days still exist for a few, but there have been some good old American ingenuity introduced and some really productive lures and fishing equipment.

On the freshwater scene, Nick Cream introduced the plastic worm into the lure choices. That lure rigged with a weedless hook gave fishermen access to fish haunts that were impossible to cast a lure into before. These plastics soon became the hottest bass foolers around. In fact, they still are.

Then came the Big-O crank bait that was given credit for winning many major bass fishing tournaments. Since they were introduced, many similar lures have been introduced to the market.

Add the Rat-L-Trap, Fuzzy-Wuzzy spinner, the Smithwick Rogue and the buzz baits, and folks that had only been mediocre fishermen before began to catch bass. Of course, these and plenty of other foolers have come along. Those aforementioned were only a reminder that fish catching on the freshwater scene has now evolved into more modern methods of angling. This will continue so long as there are Americans, and yes, folks from other countries that continue to bring new lures forward.

On the saltwater scene, it wasn’t so long ago when popping corks and live shrimp were the go-to speckled trout and redfish fishing methods. Of course the Tony’s Spoon was available, but the Bingo, the Plugging Shorty, and the Corky came later. Topwater lures that were popular in freshwater scene became the go-to lures for catching big specks in saltwater. The lead-head plastic tail jig followed and took the saltwater fishing community by storm. Next to live bait, these plastic lead-heads were effective for all kinds of saltwater fish, even offshore.

Since most inland saltwater fishermen go after speckled trout and redfish, that’s what the plastics were designed for. The flounder purists were also doing very well with those same lures. But for some reason, there were times when it seemed that all of the game fish had lockjaw. That situation put one of our more ardent anglers to thinking of something better that would create more strikes, even during slow fishing times.

There had been for several years a movement, especially by flounder fishermen, to tempt fish with small pieces of fresh or fresh frozen shrimp or bait fish. This worked fine except that every fish in the water would bite the shrimp off the hook before the game fish could take it. Much time was spent rebating, which allowed less fishing time. So what would be a solution to that problem and still keep the lure attractive to the fish?

One of the anglers that went primarily after speckled trout and redfish was Dr. Ken Rutty of Port Arthur. Rutty would spend many of his free hours afloat casting lead-head plastics and replacing the fresh shrimp that the bait stealers seemed to get fat on. So he began to use his imagination to try to find a lure that would be smell like the fresh shrimp but be less of a chore to keep baited.

Sure enough, after much trial and error, the doctor invented what was long needed by inland and blue water saltwater anglers. The lure is a lead-head jig with a skirted tube. Instead of the need to continuing adding pieces of shrimp to the hook, there is a piece of clear tubing under the skirt. It has a cut near the tail end that may be filled with a piece of shrimp and then closed up. The basket effect allows the shrimp, fish bait, or scent impregnated cotton to release odor continually. Some of the lures come with spinners, and according to Rutty, these attract redfish like magnets. The ones with no spinners are speck killers all year around.You have guessed it. This may be the hottest flounder lure around. That piece of shrimp that is so effective for flounder is there for a heap of flat fish without needing to continually be replaced. This lure has long been needed and now it is available.

You can locate the Half-Alive lure at Tally’s in Groves, Dailey’s in Port Acres and at Dr. Rutty’s Animal Clinic in Port Arthur. I believe this lure will be the new phenomenon for inland saltwater action. The flounder had better be ready to be caught.

Billy Halfin can be reached by e-mail at bhalfinoutdoors [at] aol [dot] com.