The allure of lures

I can’t remember how old I was when I first caught a fish on an artificial bait. I don’t even remember the kind lure of the species of fish. I am pretty sure I was older than grandson Tucker (age 11), who caught his first fish on something other than live bait in early July on a visit to Birch Lake.

On a previous visit back in May Tucker wanted to try casting for pike, so I fixed him up with a skirted spinnerbait. I thought he’d be good for a couple dozen casts, 15 minutes at best, and then would beg to go back to a worm on a bobber. I was wrong. We did a few long drifts on the pontoon boat, each casting a spinnerbait, and he kept at it for more than an hour without a single complaint, even though neither of us hooked anything except the occasional coontail plant.

During the July visit he wanted to fish a lure again, so this time I fixed him up with a white plastic swim bait on a jighead. In the evening as we floated at anchor near a weed bed, while his mom and did and his brother Perrin (age 9) fished with bobbers, Tucker kept casting. A couple of times he asked how he would know when he got a bite. And I told him, “Believe me, you’ll know.”

And then, all of a sudden, Tucker was yelling. “I have something! I have something!” The rod bent as he excitedly turned the crank on his closed-face reel. I grabbed the landing net and went to his side. Soon a walleye of about 13 inches appeared at boatside; I scooped it up with the net, more for effect than of necessity. I unhooked the fish; it flopped out of my hand and back into the lake before we could get a picture. But later in the evening he erupted in shouts again. This time, before I could deploy the net, Tucker had lifted his prize out of the water. “A northern pike! I caught a northern pike!” This time I held on to the fish, about a foot long, and displayed it in front of Tucker while his dad snapped a photo.

Now Tucker loves lures. When we visited his family a couple of weeks ago he asked me all about the lures I had bought him for his 11th birthday: a No. 5 gold-blade Mepps Aglia bucktail, a weedless plastic frog, a Whopper Plopper surface bait, and a Terminator spinnerbait with a chartreuse skirt.

“Could my Aglia catch a muskie?”

“How do I fish with the frog?”

“What will bite on the Whopper Plopper?”

He has taken a big step up in angling sophistication, far ahead of where I was at his age. Best and most important of all, he can’t wait to get back to Birch Lake and give all those lures a try.