2023 Fishing Recap – Lures Part I

Well, the 2024 fishing season arrived before I got around to the annual recap of the previous year. So, prior to the 2024 reports, it’s time to do a little catching up.

For today’s recap, we look at the lures that got the job done in landing 466 bass. I managed to employ over a dozen different general lure types to catch my fish in 2023. As such, the Lures portion of the 2023 Fishing Recap will be submitted over two posts working from fewest bass caught to most.

Jig – 1 bass vs. 5 bass in 2023
Strike King Rattlin’ Jig (green pumpkin) with plastic craw trailer
Top Bass: None at 12” or better
Comments: Unless the bass tell me slow down, I usually don’t. And in the early season cool water period of 2023, I found another presentation that got the job done in a big way (more on that later). My lone jig bass was a short fish from Lake Storey in mid-September. It all boils down to getting enough bites on other presentations such that I opted to rarely toss a jig.

Inline Spinner – 2 bass vs. 0 bass in 2023
Mepps #5 (rainbow trout)
Top Bass: None at 12” or better
Comments: Two early April bass were the lone contributors to this offering. In this instance, I had run through my batch of “can’t miss” baits with nary a bite and the old school Mepps saved the day with a couple small bass to avoid a shutout.

Swimbaits – 2 bass vs. 0 bass in 2023
Keitech Swing Impact (electric blue), Bass Pro Shops 3” Speed Shad (smallmouth magic)
Top Bass: 1-7 Hennepin Canal – June 3
Top 1 Weight (only one at 12”or better): 1-7 (1-7)
Comments: Similar to jigs, I rarely tossed a swimbait unless it was a downsized version in what I classify as a “grub” or “Ned Rig” (more on those later in this wrap-up series). The pair of swimbait bass that I fooled in 2023 arose from situations when my go to lures weren’t producing and I had to shift gears for a lone bite. While the presentation can certainly be effective, it’s just not my thing.

Creature Bait – 5 bass vs. 0 bass in 2023
Yum Wooly Bug (crawdad)
Top Bass: 3-2 Knox County public strip pit – September 30
Top 3 Weight (only three at 12”or better): 5-1 (3-2,1-0,0-15)
Comments: Four of my five bass on a creature bait came on the last day of September as the strip mine bass forced me to slow down. Included in the mix was a solid three-pounder. Positive feedback on a presentation that does not get many casts these days.

Jerkbait – 8 bass vs. 1 bass in 2023
Rebel Ghost Minnow
Top Bass: None at 12” or better
Comments: I chose a jerkbait for a handful of casts on a pair of early April strip mine visits. One lake had potential for a quality fish while the other spot is chock full of short bass. Both turned out to produce a batch of the latter, but it was fun to throw the old Rebel Ghost Minnow that had a few shining moments in the early 2000s.

Lipless Crankbaits –14 bass vs. 4 bass in 2023
Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad or red craw)
Top Bass: 2-10 Lake Storey – September 25
Top 5 Weight: 8-8 (2-10,1-13,1-8,1-5,1-4)
Comments: The first bass of 2023 came on a lipless crankbait during a March bike ride on The Canal. And while the lure didn’t get much of a workout for the rest of the year, it was still producing in mid-October as it is an open water winner start to finish. All the Top 5 bass in this lure category came during the Lake Storey fall drawdown as it is an effective imitation of the lake’s abundant shad forage base.

Grub – 23 bass vs. 8 bass in 2023
Lunker Hunt Finesse 3” Swimbait (perfect pumpkin)
Top Bass: 5-3 Knox County public strip pit
Top 5 Weight: 14-15 (5-3,3-1,3-0,2-7,1-3)
Comments: The surprise lure of the year was a small swimbait on a light jighead that I call a Ned Rig under the Grub category. All the catches came during a month-long stretch from April 7 to May 6 while walking the Knox County public strip mines. Even better were three quality fish (5-3,3-1,3-0) from a lake where my previous Top Bass had barely eclipsed the one-pound mark. I am eager to see if luck is on my side again in 2024.

Today’s warm-up was dominated by several effective lures that were sparingly employed in specific situations when I was struggling to get a bite or forced to tone down my offerings. Next up is Part II of the lure recap featuring the heavy hitters that accounted for over four hundred bass in 2023. Talk to you later. Troy

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