The world of artificial lure fishing changed radically in 2003 with Berkley’s introduction of Gulp. These scented and flavored soft resin layered baits were specifically designed for a variety of fresh and saltwater fish.

I arrived a few years late to Berkley’s 2003 fishing party that introduced Gulp. It took Florida west coast backcountry guide Brandon Naeve to convince me how lethal this complex-scented artificial lure substance was.

Brandon was overseeing Cary Kresge, my best friend/longest-time fishing partner and me as we tossed artificial lures and soft plastic DOA shrimp in Boca Grande’s Bull Bay to spotted sea trout and redfish. Catching was going well when Captain Naeve had Cary fit a smelly glob that slightly resembled a fat shrimp on his 1/8th-ounce jig head.

“You aren’t going to believe what’s about to happen,” the fun-loving Canadian darts pro-turned-guide said. “Go ahead, make another cast.”

Instantly Cary locked on to a hefty sea trout that snatched the fraudulent shrimp upon landing. Catching went to nonstop.

“My nephew started on this Gulp stuff, and I’m now a real fan,” Brandon said.

That was 2005.

Runoff-swollen northwest Wyoming rivers and thawing local lakes present a fishing dilemma. This season the initial absence of aquatic invasive species personnel for checkpoints may temporarily handcuff (and rightly so) some anticipated May/June river/lake boating access in Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks.

Perhaps Gulp may lend a hand to cooped-up, quarantine-in-place Jackson fishermen, whose narrow options include attacking off-color rivers from the banks, risking floating dangerous and murky runoff water conditions and probing ice-free lakes from the shore. Idaho’s weekend decision to resume selling nonresident game and fish licenses means some boaters soon will be trailering behind the Spud Curtain.

I’ve dabbled with Berkley’s interesting “artificial bait” products ever since genius chemist John Prochnow released the first whiff of tastily scented, fish-grabbing PVC plastic PowerBait in 1988. I stocked up after noticing how largemouth bass favorably slurped various camouflage, purple, blue and black PowerBait worms and squid-like tubes.

PowerBait plastics released a musty odor when not well secured in their packages but didn’t harm tackle boxes and storage containers. Prochnow’s Gulp creation was not PVC based but consisted of more fragile and purely water soluble resins with three scented layers of species-specific attractants. These lures needed to remain moist to not dry out. Resealing the leakage-prone original liquid-infused plastic pouches was hard. Packing Gulp while traveling to places such as Australia, Mexico and Florida demanded careful separate storage to avoid a noxious mess.

Happily, the intensely scented/flavored 3- and 4-inch Gulp grubs and 5-inch jerk shads were yummy to species such as redfish, sea trout, snook and tarpon and hungry foreigners like yellowtail, mangrove jack, coral trout and barramundi. Unlike early PowerBait, I barely use Gulp in freshwater.

A few years ago I overheard several accomplished fishermen tittering about catching trout with both minnows, worms and Gulp during substantial early season runoff flows. Next came heavyweight lake trout pictures on social media, and I realized that these prizes weren’t landed and released by traditional trolling methods. I surmised Gulp was involved.

Gulp veterans I’ve met have studied how to coax challenging fish into making mistakes. I admit the Bruun of today is both too parsimonious and lax to amass a collection of pricey, leak-prone packages and fine-tune the exacting terminal gear to duplicate the rigging detail I’ve observed. Yet during an early summer morning several years ago, Jean and I were seeking smallmouth bass in a long arm of Jordanelle Reservoir between Heber and Park City. A navy of white rap-resonating wakeboard Utahan craft were providing wave wash that encouraged vigorous subsurface feeding by what I suspected were rainbow trout.

After swapping the lightly weighted plastic worm rig on her spinning rod for a 2 1/2-inch freshwater Gulp Smelt Minnow from an accidental pack I had, and a 1/16-ounce Gamakatsu ball jig, Jean cast near a swirl.

“That didn’t take long,” dear Jean laughed, delighting herself and the nearby skiers by catching the rainbows that interrupted our bass fishing.

Since my primeval Gulp beginnings I’ve relied on Ron Jacobson, Stone Drug’s sporting goods honch, for current specialty lake lures. Ron’s JBaits — soft plastic tubes, jigs, jig heads, crankbaits and other custom pours — are excellent for big fish prospecting. Ron is also Gulp-certified and informed.

Berkley continues to reformulate Gulp and its liquid-filled jars of GulpAlive, so my heirloom packs are now probably worthless. But were I itching to fish less-than-clear runoff conditions, Gulp might be worth a try.

Planting trees for a cause

Last week I had a rewarding chat with the gentleman I’ll always refer to as “my minister,” the Rev. Dan Abrams. When I arrived in Jackson he was steering First Baptist Church on Kelly Avenue and ministered to over 25 religious callings within his robust congregation. Dan began the Jackson Hole News “Outdoors” column, which I inherited when his preaching, counseling and soul-delivering workload grew too great.

An off-and-on retirement led Dan and Claire all over Montana, Pennsylvania and Virginia while ministering churches that were searching for full-time ministers. They settled and retired (finally) in Bozeman, Montana. But maintaining a secure retirement in Big Sky Country’s booming Gallatin County became precarious. So they made yet another move. Wisely, they helped their younger son, Johnathan, create the official Dan & Claire addition on his Glenwood, Iowa, home.

Johnathan, a retired Air Force NCO, is a civilian defense contractor at Omaha’s Offutt Air Force Base. He shares Dan’s love of the outdoors and photography. While Claire enjoys prolifically filling canvases with her fine paintings, Johnathan and Dan explore state and federal wildlife reserves to photograph birds.

“We’re in the midst of a wonderful seasonal migration,” said Dan, who’s been busy snapping pictures of visitors to his feeders.

Then he explained that taking pictures of the same old bird baths and feeders became too repetitive. So he collected and planted several dead trees in the yard for bird perches and a more natural photo opportunity.

I must hand it to Dan. Planting dead trees really saves bills for trimming, fertilizing and spraying while still giving birds a rest.

Microwave sponges

My pal “Circling the Square” columnist Connie Owen reminded me that in addition to sanitizing kitchen and sink sponges in your dishwasher, as my recent Outdoors article suggested, you can also sanitize them in your microwave. Moisten the sponge and zap it for a minute on each side, she advises. This is a great idea for medical face masks, too. Thanks, Connie.

Paul Bruun writes every other week on his adventures and misadventures in the great outdoors. Contact him at columnists@jhnewsandguide.com.

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