Years ago, there was the Shannon Twin Spin that boasted that there never was and never will be a bait that would beat the Shannon. Later, there were lures like the Lazy Ike, Hula Popper, plastic worm, as well as the Rapala and others. Back in the early 1960s, while fishing Bull Shoals, some marinas were charging $5 an hour to "rent" a Rapala after you paid a $25 deposit.
The latest bass catching lure is the Alabama Rig, which has taken the market by storm. Andy Ross invented the Alabama Rig after experimenting with different materials in an effort to create the ultimate fish-catching rig.
The final version, the Alabama Rig, is a new concept for bass fishing. Rigged to look like a small school of bait fish by using plastic swimbaits, the new rig caught the eye of many bass tournament anglers, including Les Jarman, who won a recent tournament at Pomme de Terre Lake by using the rig to lead the field with more than 27 pounds of bass in the one-day event.
In Missouri, you are allowed three hooks and two dummies on the rig.
Jarman said, "On the dummy baits, you put them on a jig head, take wire cutters and cut the curve of the hook off. I like my dummy baits on the top and the hooks on the bottom. On about 90 percent of the time, fish get a hold of the center hook. That is called a scrounger head, which I put on the center, that way it wobbles more and looks like an injured minnow. "
Jarman started using the Alabama Rig last year and finally learned how to best use it. "It is a big fish bait," he said.
The Stockton Lake fishing guide proved his point by landing his limit of five big bass in the recent tournament with his smallest bass weighing more than 4 pounds and his largest just more than 7 pounds.
Jarman uses a 7-foot flipping stick, a seven to one ratio reel loaded with 65-pound test braided line with five quarter jig heads. Sometimes, while using the rig you might catch two or three fish on the same cast.
"If you get a hit and pause a second, you might get another fish to hit. Sometimes, they just hit the dummy bait, but often they come back and hit the real one," he said.
According to Jarman, the best time to use the rig is in the winter months when the water temperature is around 40 degrees. The bass seem to be suspended in 25 to 30 feet of water and by casting into around 15 feet of water, start retrieving the rig and the fish will usually hit about halfway to the boat.
For the past 12 years, Tim Smith and Fred Stark, Kansas City, have made trips to Table Rock Lake just prior to the annual Kansas City Sportshow. They have always caught bass. After discovering the Alabama Rig, they couldn't wait to try it on Table Rock and they were glad they did.
Smith said, "For the past dozen years, we have fished Table Rock in January and have caught some big bass, but this year, we caught the most and largest fish of all our trips. We knew the lake had a healthy population of bass.
"This January, we caught several bass that weighed more than 6 pounds. It's an excellent time to fish the lake for several reasons including that there aren't nearly as many anglers on the water.
"We fished from Cape Fair to Long Creek and caught fish in every area. It was great and made believers out of us using the Alabama Rig."
Both anglers agree that when they retire in a few years, they will be looking around the Table Rock area for a place to call home and spend more time fishing instead of driving to the lake. They said they were ready to move to a good winter fishing lake like Table Rock.