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Rapala as a Confidence Bait

Every angler should have a confidence bait or maybe two. Doing so improves his odds, and I explain why in Better Bass Fishing.

Mine is a lipless crankbait, preferably a Spot or Rat-L-Trap. I’ve caught bass up to 12-4 with it.

For my neighbor across the lake, it’s a small, floating Rapala. Unless he is using live bait, it’s the only thing that he throws in our little clear-water fishery. He catches plenty of bass on it, too. One evening last summer, he handed the rod to me, and I immediately caught a 5-pound channel catfish with the bait.

Also, I’ve tried other swimming minnows while he is catching fish with the Rapala. No luck. For whatever reason, fish in this lake want the “wounded minnow” developed by Finnish fisherman Lauri Rapala back in 1936.

And based on the bait’s success worldwide, I’m guessing that it is the preferred forage of lots of other fish around the world as well.

Lauri's original Rapala.

Here’s a little background on the bait from the Rapala company:

The brand was unofficially founded in 1936 when Finnish fisherman Lauri Rapala made one simple, yet genius observation: Big fish eat little fish, particularly the wounded ones. As he fished the waters of Finland’s Lake Paijanne, he noticed how predator fish would dart into a school of minnows and attack the one that swam with a slightly off-centered wobble again and again.

This elegant insight led Lauri to pick up a carving knife to whittle, shave and sand the original Rapala fishing lure. With makeshift household materials such as cork, tinfoil and melted photographic negatives, he crafted and painstakingly tested a lure that perfectly mimicked the action of a wounded minnow and would ultimately become the forefather of the legendary Original Floating™ Rapala.

From these humble origins, the greatest fishing story ever told began. As anglers around the globe began to catch more and bigger fish with the lure, the legend of Rapala grew. It became clear that the Rapala’s groundbreaking ‘wounded minnow’ action was the key to triggering strike after strike from fish of all species in nearly any application.

In 1959, Normark Corporation was established and set out to increase distribution of Rapala lures to U.S. fishing enthusiasts, helping to offer the brand’s innovative designs to more people than ever before.

Since the inception of Lauri Rapala’s original lure, Rapala has become a market leader known to anglers worldwide as the standard in functionality and high quality.

Today, more anglers put their faith in Rapala lures and accessories than any other brand. In fact, Rapala now consists of such world-known brands as VMC, Blue Fox, Williamson, Luhr-Jensen, Storm, Terminator, Sufix, Trigger X and ICE FORCE.

Confidence in the company’s ever-growing selection of products has spread to more than 140 countries worldwide and is validated with approximately 20 million lures sold annually and the prestigious claim that more world-record fish have been caught on Rapala lures than any other brand of fishing lures.


'You Don't Know What's on the Other End'

“It has always been my private conviction that any man who pits his intelligence against a fish and loses has it coming.”   John Steinbeck

“Bragging may not bring happiness, but no man having caught a large fish goes home through an alley.”   Author unknown

“I love fishing.  You put that line in the water and you don't know what's on the other end.  Your imagination is under there.”   Robert Altman

Why We Fish--- Reel Wisdom From Real Fishermen

“Give a man a fish and he has food for a day; teach him how to fish and you can get rid of him for the entire weekend. “   Zenna Schaffer

“The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable,  a perpetual series of occasions for hope. ”   John Buchan

“Of all the liars among mankind, the fisherman is the most trustworthy.     William Sherwood Fox


Night Ban Imposed to Protect Sagging Walleye Fishery at Mille Lacs

Removal of the minimum length requirements for bass is but one of the new regulations recently implemented at Minnesota’s Mille Lacs Lake in hopes of bolstering the sagging walleye fishery.

But it is the extension of the nighttime fishing ban until Dec. 1, instead of lifting it in mid-June, that has stirred the most controversy. That’s because summer anglers like to pursue walleyes after dark.

“It’s like a dagger to the economy up here,” said Bill Eno of Twin Pines Resort.

Guide Jason Hamemick added, “They’re going to have to figure something else out because this is blowing up right now.”

Others think that the “bad publicity” generated by the change in regulations is worse than the reality.

The reality, meanwhile, is that walleye numbers are at a 40-year low, according to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“The current walleye regulation and extended night fishing ban will protect upcoming year classes of young walleye, adult spawning stock, and help ensure the harvest stays within the safe harvest level,” said Don Pereira, fisheries chief.

By contrast, northern pike numbers are at record highs, and the smallmouth bass population has been increasing since the 1990s.  But populations of tullibee and perch, both important forage species, are relatively low.

“The new regulations reflect our commitment to improving the walleye fishery as quickly as possible with as little harm to the local economy as possible,” Pereira added.

“More liberal northern pike and smallmouth bass regulations speak to the fact these species can withstand additional pressures because their populations are at or near record highs.”

For bass, the creel limit remains at six, with no minimum size. Only one can be longer than 18 inches.

Previously, smallmouths had to be between 17 and 20 inches, with one longer than 20 permitted. Additionally, Mille Lacs will be exempt from the statewide catch-and-release smallmouth rule that goes into effect in mid-September.

The northern pike limit has been increased from 3 to 10, with one of more than 30 inches allowed.

For walleyes, daily and possession limits remain unchanged at two fish of 18 to 20 inches, with one of more than 28 inches allowed.


Lake Norman Gets Heavyweight Habitat

Photo by Jeff Willhelm

Some heavyweight fish habitat was added to Lake Norman earlier this year--- about 285 tons of it.

That’s the estimated weight of the boulders dumped into the 32,000-acre impoundment on the Catawba River to create artificial reefs on the sandy bottom. The North Carolina Wildlife Federation (NCWF) engineered the work, with funding from Duke Energy’s Habitat Enhancement Program.

NCWF’s Tim Gestwicki predicted that fish began making use of the structure within 24 hours. “The fish congregate there like crazy,” he said.

He added that the rocks provide more reliable habitat than brushpiles that deteriorate and sometimes move with currents. “The best situation is to dump rocks and create reefs,” said the organization’s executive director.

“It’s a very good aquatic habitat enhancement, and, once algal growth beings to form on the rocks, it attracts juvenile fish to the reef, which in turn attract the larger predatory fish.”

Using a barge and track hoe, workers from Lancaster Custom Dock & Lift Systems placed the rocks off the Kaiser Island peninsula near Little Creek and off the Brawley School Road peninsula. They were stacked 4 to 12 feet high in depths of at least 30 feet so that they would not pose navigation hazards.

About 270 tons of rocks were dumped three years ago to create reefs just north and south of the North Carolina 150 Bridge.


EPA Levies Record Fine for Water Pollution

Alpha Natural Resources will pay $27.5 million in fines as part of a settlement that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says is “the largest penalty in history” under the water-pollution portion of the federal Clean Water Act. The civil penalty is for nearly 6,300 violations of pollution limits at company sites.

Under the agreement, Alpha also will improve its water treatment practices for 79 active mines and 25 coal processing plants in West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia. According to EPA, that means $200 million will be used “to install and operate wastewater treatment systems and to implement comprehensive, system-wide upgrades to reduce discharges of pollution from coal mines.”

The Justice Department’s Robert Dreher added, “The unprecedented size of the civil penalty in this settlement sends a strong message to others in his industry that such egregious violations of the nation’s Clean Water Act will not be tolerated.”

Alpha spokesman Gene Kitts, meanwhile, said the consent decree “provides a framework for our efforts to become fully compliant with our environmental permits.”

He also pointed out that the company’s compliance rate for 2013 was 99.8 percent.

“That’s a strong record of compliance, particularly considering it’s based on more than 665,000 chances to miss a daily or monthly average limit,” he added. “But our goal is to do even better.”