Last weekend, I had the opportunity to photograph the 2nd Annual Nebraska High School Fishing Championship. The competition, at Summit Lake, drew 16 teams from across the state to compete. And during the 5 hour tournament as I pushed the trigger button on my camera more than 1,200 times, I noticed one major similarity. The majority of the teams fished primarily soft plastics – flipping and casting toward various contours, timber, and vegetation.
So I began to ask myself, like all anglers do when they’re watching someone else fish, why were they doing what they were doing? I know each team had a strategy, and I’m sure many pre-fished the lake (at least one team stayed on one point for nearly all 5 hours of the competition). But it still left me wondering why all the soft plastics?
Then I talked with the winners, Zach Madsen and Matt Neiburg from Blair, and couldn’t help but smile. “We caught our nice fish on crankbaits,” they told me.
When I fish with most anglers, crankbaits often take a backseat to many lures, including soft plastics. And I always wonder why. Is it because people get the lure’s hooks hung up too often? Because they’re seen as a simple lure, nearly akin to a bobber and crawler because of the cast-and-reel aspect of the lure? I’m not sure. What I am sure about is that crankbaits cover a lot of water, can be fished effectively in heavy-structured areas if you know what your lure feels like, and will be effective bass catchers as long as these fish grace our waters.
So it was good to see the youngsters going old school with a lure that has worked for so many years.