Make yourself attractive to fish with Gulp
Clear, low and cold water during fall changes fish behavior. Slowly working artificial lures, soft plastic and chemically infused jigs at different depths requires a variety of techniques. Jackson angler Kevin Brazell frequently changes lure lengths and weights to tempt reluctant late season trout. COURTESY PHOTOView our entire photo gallery >>
By Paul Bruun, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
November 14, 2012
Forgetting the camera is a good start to any outing. To minimize competition, plan fall fishing during the height of the hunting season. Mirror successful doctors and hit the water on a Wednesday or Thursday when others must work. Polish the above axioms by avoiding a hookup on the first cast. Finally, put success within easy grasp by including a big quantity of Gulp.
No, not the 64 oz., 7-Eleven Big Gulp soda drink.
Seek hermetically sealed $5.99 packs of Berkley Gulp. Select containers of 3- and 4-inch minnows, leeches, shad and other wormy-looking objects that reside in tackle stores or hang from Stone Drug and Kmart pegs.
A majority of those seen along Jackson area rivers these days are trying their hand at fly fishing. Local lakes see a variety of techniques that include lure casting, trolling, jigging and some bait-drowning on Jackson Lake. The percentage of exclusively lure and bait fishermen on area streams has diminished as ages, interests and regulations devolved to favor more recreational and less catch-and-keep behavior.
A bit of class consciousness surfaces between dedicated fly users and the rest of the fishing world. Subtly, fly folks consider that by making the pursuit of most fish species a little more difficult through their purely baitless equipment and perceived elevated skill, they deserve added recognition. This is well and good when considering differences between tricking Henry’s Fork Ph.D. rainbows, surface-sipping tiny emergers and yanking out Lake Erie yellow perch on bobbers and wiggly red worms.
The bait-versus-artificial game narrows considerably as fish size increases and late season conditions of cold and low water all spell t-o-u-g-h.
Admittedly, fooling fish is always fun. And learning new methods in the process is even better. That’s how I felt some seven or eight years ago when a Boca Grande fishing guide introduced us to Gulp while pursuing trout, snook and redfish in Bull Bay on Florida’s Gulf Coast. My childhood fishing pal, Cary Kresge, and I were doing OK tossing spinning rods wearing plastic DOA shrimp replicas and scented grubs. After we added Molting Shrimp Berkley Gulp baits to 1/8- ounce jigheads, our hookups exploded.
Berkley, a family company begun by former U.S. Rep. Berkley Bedell in Spirit Lake, Iowa, made flies early on but primarily concentrated on manufacturing fishing line, leaders and terminal tackle. Berkley developed fishing rods, acquired other companies (Fenwick, Woodstream) and ultimately released flavor-enhanced soft plastic lures and, later, jar products — both known as PowerBait.
PowerBait pushed Berkley supersonic, growing it into a juggernaut holding company known as Pure Fishing. Then came Gulp, which continues to transform anglers into disciples of its artificial chemical compounds that are yummo to most fish.
I recognize “stubborn” when I meet it, and Australian backcountry fishermen as well as their temperamental barramundi, thread-fin salmon and mangrove jack are equally difficult to convince. For personal amusement Downunder, I hauled a bag crammed with the latest soft plastic lures, thin-diameter super braid line, dozens of jigheads and plenty of shrimp versions of Gulp.
“Naw, mate, Yank stuff don’t work on fish layin’ back in our mangrove rivers,” they said. “Ya gotta throw deep diving plugs. That’s a fact!”
The truth was the “facts” had changed. During the next Aussie visit my pals bragged about their new spinning rods (aka: eggbeaters) with sensitive super braid lines and how Yank “Gulp really makes a difference!”
It’s not luck, it’s Gulp
Friends between Jackson and Idaho Falls are also working Gulp, mostly for trout in both reservoirs and on the South Fork of the Snake. Early season and ice-off casting both to shore from boats and off-shore from the bank on Palisades Reservoir produces well with small 3-inch Gulp minnows worked on 1/16-, 1/8- and 1/4-ounce jig heads.
Henry’s Lake, a renowned southeastern Idaho fish factory, attracts just about every type of angling technique in play. Trollers favor Countdown Rapalas, Jake’s Spin-A-Lures and the occasional walleye-style earthworm harness. The most popular big trout method is casting and retrieving lead head marabou jigs with light spinning tackle. Remaining kick boat and small boat fly rodders pull dark leeches, nymphs, scuds and chironomid patterns on a range of floating and sinking lines. Most anglers work around springs, drop-offs and weed beds for Yellowstone cutthroat, brook and rainbow/cutthroat hybrids that can all reach stunning proportions.
Jig casters who have added some form of Gulp to their outfits report success and how neighboring anglers may become upset over their “luck.”
Gulp is not inexpensive. Once added to a hook, it dries out unless kept wet. Careful storage in its own moist, resealable container is imperative. A thoughtful plastic container company offers tight-fitting storage boxes that prevent chemically charged Atraxx, Gulp, Exude, Trigger X, PowerBait and other juiced-up artificial products from ruining other gear either at home, in the boat or the garage. Check sealed packs often. They can and will dry out, as I discovered all of mine had prior to a recent outing.
Some fishing contests and fishing areas do not allow the use of Gulp and other chemically enhanced products, even though they fit the definition of artificial bait. Despite being an excellent fish attractant in both salt and fresh water, using Gulp requires practice working the lightest jig heads and sinkers possible to maintain maximum sensitivity to strikes.
Depth, location important
During a recent trout hunt with Jackson window-master/ski patrolman/jig maestro Kevin Brazell, it was evident that locations and depths constantly influenced lure lengths and jig weights. Although familiar to many fly anglers, such detailed attention is not as readily recognized by those using spinning and conventional tackle. Kevin and his regular fishing pals are keen jig men, able to identify a rainbow, brown or smallmouth that licks a lure in 25 feet of water.
Using the correct bait makes everything easier. Carefully matching sensitive rods, lines and leaders with lure weights and proper depths pays real dividends, especially in cold, clear November water.
Wyoming’s very best deal
In last week’s “What is Wyoming wildlife worth to all of us?” column, I didn’t explain the opportunity to purchase a lifetime resident fishing/bird hunting license, now $300. Add a lifetime conservation stamp ($180) and anyone who can prove 10 years of state residency gets a dandy deal.
I’m proud of my lifetime fishing, bird and conservation stamp package that was obtained a long time back. The plastic card shows some cracks and wear, but the worst thing was that nobody checked it for at least four years. Then it was studied by a Grand Teton ranger who didn’t recognize what it was!
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is proposing an increase of $64.50 to the fish-bird license and a $38.75 boost to the conservation stamp.
Therefore, it is wise to apply for this bargain before another year rolls around and definitely prior to the 2013 Wyoming Legislature passing license increase proposals.
A lifetime license is your personal investment in Wyoming’s rich wildlife heritage. If your memory is anything like mine, the concept is even better. Thinking to buy new annual licenses and conservation stamps before your first fishing and bird tripss is not as easy as it once was.
Eliminate such worries with a lifetime license.
Paul Bruun writes weekly on his adventures and misadventures in the great outdoors.