Day on the lake: Bernie Schultz

“There is nothing new under the sun!” King Solomon first said it around 950 B.C., and veteran pro Bernie Schultz, a passionate collector of antique lures, knows that where bass baits are concerned, Solomon’s statement still rings true today. “Today’s lure manufacturers constantly strive to come up with something new and different, but in reality, almost every bait we fish bears striking similarities to lures built decades ago,” Schultz explained. “For example, frog fishing became a so-called ‘hot new trend’ within the past decade, but bass anglers were throwing the hollow-bodied Hastings Weedless Frog way back in 1895. Swimbaits have taken over the Elite Series lately, but their basic design is reminiscent of the 1904 K&K Minnow. Shallow crankbaits are a huge lure category today, but they’re all descended from the Creek Chub Wiggler, dating back to 1916. And those noisy ‘plopper’ surface baits? They’re just like the vintage Mudd Puppy topwater plug your great-granddad used to throw.” So what “hot new” lures will Schultz use to tempt bass during his day on Lake Q? Stay tuned to find out!

6:42 a.m. It’s 48 degrees and breaking daylight when we arrive at Lake Q’s deserted boat launch. The forecast calls for sunny skies and a high in the low 70s. Schultz arranges an assortment of Shimano rods and reels on his rig’s front deck. “Judging from the time of year and weather conditions, bass should be starting to move to the banks,” Schultz predicts. “I’ll start out shallow with moving baits like a swim jig, bladed jig and crankbait. This region has had massive rainfall recently, but the lake level looks stable and the water’s not muddy. It’s cloudy now, but hopefully it’ll clear off quickly so the sun has a chance to warm the water a few degrees and get the bass in a spawning mood.”

7 a.m. We launch the Caymas. Schultz checks the water temp: 58 degrees. He cranks the Merc and makes a short run to Lake Q’s dam.
7:06 a.m. Schultz digs through a storage locker and extracts a small box containing an assortment of hard baits. “These are Shimano lures that will be introduced to the U.S. market at this summer’s ICAST fishing tackle trade show. They’ve been available in Japan for some time, but American bass haven’t seen them yet.” He selects a Macbeth squarebill in a red craw pattern. “This is a hollow plastic crankbait that’s as buoyant as a balsa plug. It’s got an intense wobble, and you can cast it a city block.” He makes his first casts of the day to riprap lining the dam. “The water’s clearer here than at the ramp. I might have to try a jerkbait.”
7:15 a.m. Schultz cranks an overflow structure adjacent to the dam. “I’m seeing a ton of bait around that overflow on my electronics.”
7:20 a.m. Schultz switches to a ghost shad Shimano Rip Flash jerkbait. “This jerkbait doesn’t suspend; it rises slowly after you jerk it. This is actually the first time I’ve fished this lure; it looks amazing!”
7:29 a.m. Schultz moves to a shallow pocket (minicove) near the dam and tries a white 3/8-ounce ChatterBait bladed jig with a Zoom Fluke trailer around laydowns.
7:35 a.m. He switches to a white 3/8-ounce V&M swim jig with a Yamamoto Zako swimbait trailer, making short casts to brushy cover and shaking his rod during the retrieve “to activate the skirt and trailer.”
7:42 a.m. Schultz exits the pocket and makes a high-speed run to the upper end of the lake. He stops at a big flat with abundant shallow wood cover, replaces the trailer on his swim jig with a generic boot-tail shad and begins combing the big structure while moving along at a moderate clip.
7:47 a.m. Still covering water with the swim jig. “It’s a little murkier up here, which I like because shallow bass don’t spook as easily in off-colored water.”
7:55 a.m. Schultz spots a bass cruising near the bank; he pitches the swim jig at the fish and it skedaddles. “That was a male, probably looking for a place to fan out a nest.”

8 a.m. Schultz is running the shoreline, pitching the swim jig to shallow wood. “A swim jig is a good choice for covering shallow water fairly quickly; you can steer it around cover with your rod and, depending on what color you throw, it mimics either a shad, a bluegill or a crawfish.”

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