Mike Jackson: Too much confusion when it comes to lure selection

I proudly wear a colorful badge proclaiming my status as an honorary pack rat.

I have rods, reels, tackle boxes, all with manufactured dates emblazoned upon each piece going all the way back to the 1930s. It's not a matter of me just collecting old fishing gear, but rather I just can't find a reason to put the stuff away in a secret stash locker that my great grandchildren will discover one day.

I am constantly roaming the countryside, looking for ponds, small lakes and river access points where I can get in and out without any hassle.

I have a small bag with a couple of plastic boxes crammed with Little Action Mac worms; an old Rapala; and my favorite plug or crank bait - a River Runt festooned with numerous teeth marks and gouges.

So there I was, eyeballing this small pond south of Madison, Wis., getting the lay of the land so to speak.

After weeks of heavy rainfall the pond's shoreline was a sloppy mess and quite slippery. In fact, the high water spilled over its banks in several places.

As a precaution I got into my chest waders and put on a personal flotation device. This was my insurance policy just in case I found myself sliding into deep water.

Not knowing what species of fish awaited me I took a 6½-foot Grandt spinning rod out of the case and tied the River Runt to the end of 8-pound mono.

I really like "attacking" a new and unknown fishing spot because it seems to convey somewhat of a mystery atmosphere to me just moments before I make that first cast.

I tested the River Runt's "swimming" ability. It passed with flying colors. In fact it darted in two directions like it just came out of the box.

I slowly moved along the bank until I came to a section of cattails barely showing tops through the water's surface.

My cast landed a foot or two on the outside edge of the tails and just before I was about to crank a retrieve the water exploded like a geyser.

My scale registered the largemouth bass at 2 pounds. I repeated the process up and down the muddy bank counting 14 bass, three crappies, two channel catfish, and a dozen or so bluegills and sunfish. All went after the Runt and were firmly hooked in the process.

I could be a happy angler if I swore off buying new baits every winter. Of course I'd catch a bad rap from the lure companies, as well as newly anointed cable TV stars decked out in their sponsor's logos.

The lure companies are faced with the same dilemma every year. They have to market new lures while hiring angling pros to show audiences the new lures are a sure thing when it comes to irritating fish to bite.

I've been in this fishing and outdoor business almost 50 years and I've witnessed lure companies doing their promotional dances to the same old tunes time after time.

Go to any big-box store and wander through the lure aisles. Try and discern which creation is right for you and buy it. Then go home and search through your tackle box and find some golden oldies and take them for a swim or two.

Let me know how you did.

• Catch Mike Jackson Outdoors 7 to 9 a.m. Sundays on WCGO AM-1590 or stream live at Reach him at

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