Lakecaster Online

TRAPS & GRASS -"A Deadly Combo"
By Ed Snyder

Lake Sam Rayburn, Texas.

"Over there, alerted the guide as we slowly moved into the grass pocket, make your cast's just past those clumps of grass which are out from the moss-edges, he advised, then retrieve them into the grass-tops to try and snag the strands of the hydrilla. To most anglers, "snagging-up" with anything while retrieving our lures usually enflames with some sort of frustrated and derogatory remarks, "But, when grass-tippers snag their lures into the grassy weed-beds their response is always one of exhilaration, and anticipation as they brace for a sudden bass attack....... "THEN HANG ON FOR DEAR LIFE!!"

"I can't feel the grass yet, Debra complained as she reeled low and fast, "It'll be there, advised John, just keep cranking till you feel it. "As she began to feel the tail-tale tugs of grass as her lure wriggled through it, Debra remembered John's earlier instructions to "rip" the lure free, but before she could, a sudden "THUMP" immediately arched her rod into our first hook-up of the morning. "There it is," she screamed at us as her rod began to vibrate from a fighting bass. Generating into a flurry of exciting leaps and boils, the Smokey Joe Rat-L-Trap worked through a 10' grass-clump provided Debra with her newly learned grass-tech skill, which produced a nice bass of about three lbs.

I'm fishing this early winter day with two of Lake Sam Rayburn's most recognized fishing industry personalities, Debra Lynn Pryor and John Presley. Debra, a probable unknown to most of you reading this article, is however almost as famous as her Mom, two time World Bass Champion Ann Thomasson Wilson, who operates out of her mom's "fully rigged" tackle shop in Jasper, TX. John Presley, who also may be a no-com to most of you, is one of Lake Sam Rayburn's top pro/fishing guides, and a well-seasoned bass tournament angler who also operates as Chief Guide out of Ann's Tackle Shop.

"Usually in December, John began to advise to my notes, "The Rat-L-Trap bite starts to get pretty good and will extend all the way into the Spring months. "And with the lake level being like it is, and after the water comes up a little more, the Trap bite will get even better. "This is also the time when we start looking for scattered grass-clumps which are sitting in 10' to 12' of water. "It's not hard to work the grass-mats with Rat-L-Trap's, John advised, "As you can crank the Traps over them without digging too deeply into them. "National Bass/Pro, Guy Eacker, who won the Central Invitational here in '94, showed us this new grass-tech by tippin' the grass-mats with large red Rat-L-Traps. Guy actually used 40 lb test line to help keep his Traps "just above" the grass-tops when tippin' the grass-strands for bass bites.

After landing and releasing a solid two pounder, my attention is quickly detoured to the splashing swirls, which are beginning to erupt all around us as we're surprised by a sudden topwater feeding frenzy. But before I could react with a cast of my own, Debra and John already had bracketed the "pocking swirls" with their Rat-L-Traps which hooked Debra into her second bass of the morning and John with his first, a solid 4 pounder which bore the dark markings of a healthy grass-bass.

"I much prefer throwing the 1/2 oz Trap in December, John notes, "And Then, along about late January and early February I'll go to the 3/4 oz Trap for a while. "Shad colors are best for this time of year, Debra explained as she informed that anything in shad patterns such as the #46 white, Smokey Joe, bleeding Tennessee shad, or diamond dust will do the trick. "Then, Debra advised, "When the winter/spring months arrive the red shades and colors will begin to dominate the bass-bites with such color combos as red/ghost, pumpkin/seed, wild/shiner, electric/shad, #87 reds-(black/red)-, crawfish colors, orange/black stripes, chartreuse with red belly's, and the Rayburn red's, etc, etc.

(Editors note)-"NOW" before y'all completely shake this off as being something akin to a jelly bean fishery, you really need to take a "look-see" at Ann's "fully rigged" Tackle Shop in Jasper, TX, Where her tackle aisles are stocked with everything you'll need to catch fish on Rayburn, or Toledo Bend. But be sure to check out the center aisle which has a peg-board "literally" stacked from carpet to rooftop-shelf with over 120 different varieties of the Rat-L-Trap lures which represent just about every color, size, and lure action that Rat-L-Trap provides for its anglers.

"The ideal rig for "grass-tippin' bass, John enlightens, "Is to use a 7' Erhardt Cranking' rod, which has a glass-tip, and a Shimano Curado/200 casting reel spooled with 17 to 20 lb test Silver Thread green mono attached to Rat-L-Traps. Making sure that you have replaced the factory hooks with Mustad Triple-Grip hooks, which will make for a much better and stronger hook-set, John strongly advises from his many years of guiding and bass tournament experiences. "One of the worse things for bass anglers to have happen to them, John explained, "Is to have a hard-earned bass suddenly dislodge from your hooks simply because they weren't sharp enough for a deep hook-set.

"In November/December, just as we're doing now, John instructs, "We'll be working the ditches in 8' to 10' of water near the grass-lines, fishing the scattered grass-clumps with ½ oz Smoky Joe, chrome/blue, or chrome/black Traps. "The bass will be holding within these grass-clumps for "bush-whacking" any baitfish that may swim by. "This is why we have to actually "Tip" the grass as we crank our traps through it, John stresses as Debra speaks up with, "It's a sure-fire way for triggering a bass-bite, "For some reason, known only to the bass, "They'll only hit the bait after it actually touches the grass before being ripped free. "The strike will almost always come right at the time that the Trap is ripped free, John stressed, "I guess because it resembles an escaping baitfish which triggers the natural feeding instinct of the bass.

"When February and March arrive we'll then start going to the creeks and main-lake points, John instructed, "As the bass will begin migrating to and from their spawning areas. "We then will start tippin' the inside and outside edges of the grass and brush as we move to the backs of the creeks to fish the flats and ledges that the bass will be staging on. Red/orange, chartreuse, and other crawfish patterns are best for that time of year, Debra explained as she informs that those colors will pretty much be the most popular "catching-colors" from March through the spring months of April and May.

"We often make changes on the Rat-L-Traps during the early Spring spawning periods, Debra pointed out, "Because several of our longtime customers will come in to Ann's Tackle Shop and ask for a specific color, or pattern that they feel will improve their catching. "Sooo, Mom and I will often modify the baits for them. "Our customers know my mom, and her extensive experiences in the field of bass fishing, and highly respect her judgment when it comes to bass fishing colors and techniques. (Editors Note- Ann Thomasson Wilson, Debra's mom and tackle shop owner, has over 30 years of bass fishing experiences to her credit which includes "multiple" Lady Bass and Bass-N'Gal National titles as well as two World Bass Championship wins- the only lady angler to ever hold back to back World Championship titles at the same time- a stroll through Ann's Tackle Shop is like taking a stroll through bass fishing history. Ann has also been recorded in the National registry of "Who's Who in America).

After making a move to the Needmore Point area, John moves to fish a main-lake grass-bed that has several large isolated grass-clumps scattered out, and around a deepwater flat. All three of us began working the clumps with the grass-tippin' method as we purposely snag into the hydrilla before "ripping" the traps free. John's effort is our first payoff as he nails a "heavy" four only seconds before Debra sets her hooks into its identical twin. After working the beds for another 15 minutes, John decides to head for a creek area, which may be holding some early migratory bass that may be cruising along its brushy northern banks.

"Rat-L-Traps are excellent lures for "culling water", Debra informs as she explained that they're natural fish locators for moving fast through the lake while covering a lot of water and structure. "Yea, that's fer-sure, John chimed in, "For when we're fishing tournaments and in a hurry to fill out live-well with an early limit, the Rat-L-Trap is hard to beat for doing just that. "Like Debra said, you can cover a lot of the lake areas in a very short time for finding those "honey-holes" which will put some good bass weight on the weigh-in scale for you.

"Rat-L-Traps are also our #1 selling bait for when the EverStart and BASSMaster's are here for their National tournaments, Debra pointed out, "As most of them will come by our tackle shop to learn what colors and styles they need for catching a winning stringer. "And I expect that with this years BASS schedule of the Top-150 being on Toledo Bend the 3rd week of February, with the Central Invitational the following week on Rayburn, followed up with the EverStart that our Rat-L-Trap stocks will become a very popular counter item.

"In the Spring, John explains, "If the water gets up into the bushes, the Rat-L-Trap is JUST as deadly when worked through the brush. "Not many anglers do this, John informed, "Why, I don't know, but the bass will hit a Trap that's "tipped" through the brush just as fast as if it was being "tipped" through the grass-clumps. "I guess it's the way the Trap is constructed that makes it so appealing to the bass as it kinda' wobbles like a nervous baitfish, and with its built in bb's rattling away as it bounces off the brush-limbs, or is "yanked" free from a tangle of aquatic vegetation, "Whelp, I guess the bass just can't pass up such an appealing a meal. Rising lake waters will also determine whether to stay with the 1/2 oz, Debra added, "Because rising waters will usually mean that you may have to change to the 3/4 oz sizes in order to fish the deeper structure.

"Although the Rat-L-Trap bite can be become a year-round producer for good bass catches, Debra advised, "The main Trap-bite usually begins to ebb in late April or early May. "Yeah, that's true, John supports, "Because that's when the fish go deeper and most everyone will start dragging worms and lizards along the deeper drop-off ledges, or start punching the grass-lines with jigs and tubes. "That may be so, Debra catered, "But the hot weather months also provide a solid Striper bite for those who begin using the larger Trap's such as the 1-oz mag-num chrome/blue, chrome/black, or bleeding Tenn/shad colors, "As well as for our summer-time schooling bass bite. "Actually, John stressed, "In April when the Hybrid Striper bite is starting down at the Dam, we'll take our guide parties by there at first light to get in on some of the "awesome" Hyper-Striper action that will flat wear the paint off of them traps as we hook-up with several 10 to 12 lb class hybrids.

"The Rat-L-Trap has also quickly become a favorite lure among our saltwater anglers as well, Debra informs as we move into the back of a creek area that John wanted to check out. "We've been selling a lot of our Rat-L-Trap stock to a growing number of saltwater fishermen who've been catching speckled trout and redfish from the Texas Gulf Coast bays and tributaries, Debra advised." You can safely say that the Rat-L-Trap has become a year-round bait now, Debra explained as she pointed out that they now have a bait for all fishing seasons. "Yeah, sure-nuff on that, Presley advised, informing that the Bill Lewis Lure Company now produces just about all sizes and styles from the Tiny Trap for bream and crappie, to the 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and Magnum sizes that attract the interests of bigger game fish species such as bass and striper. "They also have come up with topwater baits, Debra stated, "Such as the Slap-stik and Super Slap-Stik which find their groove for the topwater action anglers as well as for the saltwater surf anglers.

"Geeeze", "will ya' looka-there" John interrupts while pointing to a shadow near the bank. "A bit early for spawning dontcha-think, Debra asks as we drift past the little grassy pocket of brush. "Whelp, like they say, John states, "This has been one strange year, and with all the extreme weather patterns we've been experiencing the bass just may be moving in for an early spawn this year. "Go ahead and take her, John offers to Debra as he mans the troll-motor to position the boat. After John maneuvered his Ranger into position, Debra makes a cast that parallels the shoreline, and then slowly works the Trap into the brush to bounces it off a limb. "The shadow suddenly lunged, spraying water, hooks, and Rat-L-Trap as it somersaulted into the air. "Tis a good one John admires to Debra, "Just keep the line tight and work him towards the boat. With a grin as big as Texas, Debra smoothly maneuvered the big bass onto John's thumb for lip-landing. "Hey, Debra suddenly yells in excited awe, "I CAN DO THIS!!"

Our grass-tippin' fishing adventure is suddenly cut short when my cel-phone suddenly alerts me to the fact that Debra's son, 11 year old Chantz Pryor, had just culled his first deer while hunting with his Grandma, Ann Thomasson Wilson. "NOW" there are some things in life, which can't be missed for any reason, and a "First Deer" in East Texas is more important than any fishing story. "SOOooo, in order to get "The Rest of This Story" you must pay a visit to Ann's Tackle Shop in Jasper Texas.

For more information on fishing Lake Sam Rayburn contact John Presley at (409)-698-9713 -or- contact Ann's Tackle Shop at (409)-384-7685.

with a grin as Big as Texas Debra hangs on

Debra displays one of her "trapped" bass
< photos by Ed Snyder >

Debra trying her best to land John's 1st bass

Debra and John with two of their "grass-tippers"

John lip-landing Debs brush-bass

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