North America is blessed with thousands and thousands of freshwater lakes, rivers and creeks that hold a vast majority of the world’s freshwater sport fish. Fishermen have their own list of their top favourite fish that they tend to fish for, and they also have their favourite lures and bait for different species of fish. All of the different species of trout, salmon, bass, perch, pike and pickerel, along with other species of fish entice fishermen to spend billions of dollars a year on the sport annually. However, the difference between fishing with lures and fishing with bait is a lot more than just simple personal favouritism.
The weather has a major effect on what type of offerings you fish with, lures or bait, with differences between before, during and after a major storm, water temperature and clarity, time of year and how close before or after the spawning season happens. The constant fisherman uses bait to fish when a storm is approaching, and lures during and after the storm. When waters are very deep and cold, lures and jigs are used, as bait will die and lose it’s attractiveness to the suspicious and picky fish. The lures, on the other hand, provide sonar signals to attract the sport fish as well as colour and brightness to attract their curiosity and engage their territorial instincts.
How you reel in your line and how you cast it, how you troll your line and how you set your line up depend upon whether or not you are using lures or bait. The difference between fishing with lures and fishing with bait is that with bait, you are restricted to what you have, and if that is not working, you go home with nothing. When fishing with lures, you have a nearly endless supply of shapes, sizes, colors and attached attractants like spoons, feathers and beads. Fake super baits, with fish attractants embedded within the lure all add up to a nearly endless variety of bait presentations when fishing with lures.
When using lures, you should reel the line in at a irregular speed, all the while slightly jerking the rod tip up every few feet. This makes the bait seem like it is trying to make it to the surface for air, and when it fails, the sport fish spot an easy meal and strike at it.
Using split-minnow lures of chartreuse or silver, red and white or white with spots, the lures have bills of different size and shape to make them “swim” at different levels of the water, from shallow to deep divers. When fishing with bait, you add weights to the line, and have to reel slower to allow the bait to stay near the bottom, or remove weights and reel quicker to have the bait stay closer to the surface. In faster waters, using bait attached to the hook of a shiny lure can attract major strikes.
When fishing with bait in moving waters (rivers, creeks, etc.), you can try to have the bait suspended from the surface to right off the bottom by adding weights at different lengths from the bait. The closer the weights to the bait, the closer the bait will stay near the bottom. Using lures, the longer, wider and more concave the bill at the front of the lure, the deeper it will suspend. Use varying reel speeds to find the speed that keeps the bait at your desired depth while slowly retrieving in your line.
One major difference between fishing with lures and fishing with bait is that with lures, there are usually one, two, three or even more treble hooks attached, each one well able to snag a fish that swims by to investigate the intruder (your bait or lure). With bait, you should be using single hook, barbless setups. Again, with bait you can attach a series of hooks a short distance apart to hold your bait in a lively position, to appear to be swimming in the current to the curious fish.
Maybe the biggest difference between fishing with lures and fishing with bait is the cost. Lures run from a couple of dollars to over $30 each, whereas a dozen night crawler worms run about $3.50 at your local bait and tackle shop, or from entrepreneurial farmers and locals nearby hot fishing spots. Minnows may be a little more costly than worms, but still well below the cost of their imitators. Every insect, fly, minnow, mouse and other animals are imitated by lures, whereby catching all of those to fish with could take a lot of time and ingenuity. And patience.
Fish informed, and fish safe. But most of all, fish on!