Have you ever looked at a long, slender soft plastic worm and wondered why a bass would eat something that looks like a giant earthworm?
No question, people catch more largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass on worms than any other lure. This basic lure design has been more successful and more widely used than any other lure ever made, and there are literally thousands of shapes, colors, and sizes made by lure makers today.
There are many philosophies about what triggers a bass’s strike instinct, but none drives home more confidence than to actually find a critter in bass waters that looks like….well, a worm. Spring lizards would certainly fall into this category, but you rarely hear people talk about the more common legless wonder that is found in almost all lakes in Georgia: the lamprey.
The lamprey is an eel with a sucker-like mouth that preys on larger fish. It attaches itself to the body of larger fish and literally sucks their meal from the unlucky host. Lamprey’s often attach themselves to the gills of larger fish, causing nasty sores and all too often killing the host. They can swim very fast--much faster than their wormy cousins the leech. And their excellent eyesight enables them to see a target, then spring from the muck to latch onto host fish before the fish can get away.
Once stuck to the victim, a lamprey is very hard to remove. In fact, if you ever get one stuck to you, you may need a pair of pliers to get it off! This often happens when someone catches a (very) unlucky bass with one of these attached, and then pulls it off, only to have the lamprey then attach itself to the angler. If you want to dispose of one, choose a method other than letting it dry out on the deck of your boat. Although they shrivel up and look pretty dead, a little bit of water will rehydrate them and they’ll be back up to speed in no time. You’ll have to take more drastic measures against these guys.
Its OK, Bass Hate Them Too
Knowing how nasty these little things are might explain why spotted bass will absolutely crush a worm with extreme aggression, and why sometimes they simply shy away from them. You might treat a roach the same way: sometimes destroying the kitchen trying to kill it, and other times running away and screaming like a sissy (not me, I do the first one).
Lampreys Come in Green Pumpkin
If you put a lamprey next to a “Green Pumpkin” colored worm, you might think worm-makers already know about the lamprey. Look at the header picture where we've put a lamprey next to a 6" soft plastic worm. The colors are strikingly similar; even down to the black “pumpkin seed” flakes. Note also in the image above that lamprey’s have a little tan or brown in the belly; another successful lure color pattern.
Make It Swim
A Scrounger Head jig head will give your soft plastic a similar side-to-side action that looks like both a spring lizard and a lamprey. When using these or other similar jig heads, swim the worm in slow, short runs of 2-3 feet, then let it sit for a moment, then swim again ---you’re likely to convince an angry spot that he’s going to kill that thing.
This poor carp was flushed out by a river otter I was photographing. He came straight at the boat trying to get away from the otter and I was ale to snap a picure of him. ---Wow. He must be hating life....(click to enlarge)