SMALLER PROFILE, BIGGER FISH
BIG BAITS, BIG FISH, RIGHT?
Well, yes, but elephants frequently eat peanuts, even more so when a new flavour or shape is on the dinner menu.
Fishing the shallows for big snapper frequently sees me fishing XXL Gulp!, always looking for the biggest snapper on the shallow terrain they feed and reside. However, the arrival of some new Berkley Gulp! designs and being a tackle tester for Berkley, forced me to put away the big baits and re-calibrate my angling.
What a breath of fresh air that was, and as a result of dropping down a gear in bait size, our catch rate went up in situations where we may not have caught fish.
Fish feeding behavior is no different from humans. Sometimes we want roast pork with all the trimmings and a nice cold beer, and sometimes, we want to snack on a bag of chips while we watch the footy. Fish are the same; sometimes, they feed aggressively when a drop in the barometer is detected, or if they have just consumed a couple of mackerel, they may not want to eat anything and are content to sit in a gutter and relax for a while with a full belly.
How does this translate to catching more fish?
Suppose you’re slamming out a 9″ Gulp! on a 30lb trace to a well-fed fish. Naturally, it doesn’t want to eat any more than you would like to eat a whole serving of roast beef after a generous helping of grandma’s Sunday roast. But if a bowl of scorched almonds gets put on the table, then you’ll no doubt help yourself to one or two.
This is where small baits like the 3″ & 4″ Nemesis have been a game-changer for me. If a fish is not feeding, it will still lash out at my offerings. Either because it looks tasty or because it simply wants to swat a fly out of its face. And, of course, the Gulp! scent helps to trigger a bite.
We have found the 3 & 4″ Gulp! Nemesis Prawn Paddle Tails a pre-requisite and have now been responsible for several fish in the 4-6kg range, that perhaps would have gone un-caught. Our prefferred tackle we use for these smaller baits is a light PENN Regiment 7’4” spin rod which casts a ¼ ounce jighead the sufficient distance required. Being a small Gulp!, we want a light jighead to give us the required hang time and the best return action possible. Both the paddle tail and curl tails work perfectly on the drop, and the new body shape with sculpted back provides vibrations and movement that fish haven’t experienced before.
As an angler, I firmly believe that fish become lure shy, less so with Gulp! because of it’s bite triggering taste. But none the less you keep casting the same lure at the same fish, and they eventually learn not to go there. So varying your colours, shapes, and styles is crucial to becoming a better angler and ultimately catching more fish than your mate next to you.
You need to be situationally aware of when to switch and go light with all this in mind. So for us, if the bite goes off – for whatever reason – we drop down to the light gear with the 20-pound leader and 3-4″ Nemesis Prawns. Don’t necessarily expect a red hot bite straight away on big fish, but you will likely catch fish when you were otherwise never going to. If you’re serious about lure fishing, you need three sets rigged and ready to go. Light, medium, and heavy – so you can swap out without the hassle of retying.
Berkley 5″ Gulps! are phenomenally popular in NZ – so having new body shapes and actions will likely have an immediate impact on your fish catching. For example, paddle & curl tails fish on the drop better than the Gulp jerk shads – simply because of the increased action they impart. For that reason alone, I won’t hesitate to swap out from the tried and trusted 5″ Gulp Jerk Shad.
By Alistair Arkell – Berkley Pro Team
Alistair is a well known all round angler in NZ, who often appears inside of fishing magazines across the country with trophy fish and tips on how to catch them. Alistair is a pretty mean fishing photographer too! Check out his work on Instagram: @hauraki_gulf_fisherman