Jeff Gustafson answers: what is the best lure ever?

Magazines often have feature stories wondering “what is the best lure of all time” and then run down the list including the Daredevil, Rapala Floating Minnow, Mepps Spinner and the jig. These are all legendary lures that have been responsible for many memorable catches for a lot of anglers. All deserve a spot in the tackle box.
As someone who fishes as much as I do, not only for bass but for a variety of species there is no one lure that fits every situation.
All species of fish make different seasonal movements and have changing forage preferences throughout the year so the well rounded angler keeps an open mind and has tackle to fish from shallow to deep.
If I was only allowed one type of lure for the rest of my time, it would be a jig. They come in a variety of sizes to cover all depths of water and can be tipped with all kinds of soft plastics and live bait to catch all species of fish. I could cover more options with a jig than any other type of lure.
Over the past couple of weeks there has been one particular bait that has been really good for me, the top lure in my boat right now. All of the sport fish across Sunset Country eat minnows so anything minnow imitating that you tie on the end of your line is never a bad idea. I have been using a Z-Man MinnowZ, a three inch swimbait that has the profile of a minnow with a swimming tail on the end. This bait, rigged on a ¼ ounce jig head has been responsible for hundreds of fish catches in my boat over the past few weeks.
In the spring, there is a lot more life in shallow water than there is during any other part of the year. My pattern of finding and catching fish over these past few weeks has been to focus on casting my swimbait around smaller coves and shallow flats. A small beach in a cove is the tell-tale sign of a good spot right now for me. These shallow, sandy areas are a magnet for young perch and shiners, which all of these bigger fish are feeding on.
The presence of smaller baitfish in these locations is evident by the stomach contents of some of the walleyes that we have kept, we see bass puke up these minnows while we are fighting them and you’ll see the shiners flicker and glimmer on the surface when they are being chased by larger fish.
When you are looking for these shallow spring hot spots, always watch for coves where the wind is blowing in and if there is a section of dirty water and a “mud line”, those are the best spots.
Cast your bait into the muddy area and reel it back, most of your bites will occur around where the water colour changes. Walleyes, pike and bass will all hide out, lurking in the dirtier water, waiting to ambush minnows that don’t know they’re there.
While I most often use the quarter ounce jig to fish the four to ten foot depths that I’m targeting, sometimes an 1/8 ounce jig is better for extreme shallow water, while a 3/8 ounce jig might be better for water deeper than ten feet. If you haven’t tried to catch walleyes in shallow water, pick up a few jigs, some soft plastic minnow imitators and I think you’ll be surprised at the results. As I have mentioned, you will also run into plenty of bass and pike in these same locations which adds some fun and action to the outing. This bite occurs on many waters across Sunset Country and will remain strong for several weeks before these fish start to move towards summer locations.