Capt. Mike Freeman
SLICKer than Snot....
It's easy to get so comfortable in your fishing style that you neglect working on new techniques. As charter guide, most of my trips are all about numbers...that is, high numbers of fish hitting the ice. Occasionally though, I fish for myself or with a client who wants to try for bigger fish and is not quite as focused on getting a limit. I quickly switch gears to a couple of other techniques, including the one I am going to discuss in this article, large soft plastic "twitch" baits.
I've fished twitch baits most of my life. It started for me as a teenager with a black and silver suspending Rapala that I would throw inside Long Beach Harbor in the winter time for big trout. The nature of the suspending bait allowed me to slow my retrieve down and keep the bait in the strike zone longer to target the more lethargic winter fish. There are several baits by many well known companies that fall in this category of hard plastic suspending baits, and they do work. For me though, soft plastics changed everything, including how and when I use twitch baits.
While working as a guide at Chandeleur Island in the late 90's, I really started fishing soft plastic twitch baits seriously. I loved using Corky Mullets or Paul Brown Devil baits while wade fishing the surf side of the island for bigger fish. The fish seem to hold the soft plastic longer that the hard baits before realizing something is not right and trying to "spit" the lure. This allowed me more time to detect the strike and get a solid hook set. The problem with these lures though was the treble hooks hanging below them. Not only can they be a nightmare to deal with while waist deep trying to unhook a struggling trout, they made it difficult to fish another one of my favorite locations...grass flats. Hanging treble hooks and grass flats just don't mix that well. This, sadly, kept these deadly soft plastics in my bag and off my line more than I would like. Recently, all that changed. I had a client who made baits and wanted to see what kind of results we would have fishing them in our local waters. This is how I met Mr. Joey Landreneau, creator of the Slick Lure. Chandeleur was to be our test location but weather kept us confined to Cat Island and the Biloxi Marsh which, for me, was a better test of my everyday locations. Spoiler alert...these baits work...well.
The Slick has the familiar profile of a Paul Brown Devil bait, but that's where the similarities end. Joey had the idea to make the bait into a weedless soft plastic, so after purchasing the mold he went to work. The addition of a hook slot allows the bait to be rigged weedless but still provide consistent hookups by minimizing the resistance the hook encounters in the plastic body. This is the single most important feature that has caused me to have at least one rod rigged with a Slick at all times...I could now throw a suspending soft twitch bait over grass! The key to making this bait go is hook selection. Joey recommended using Owner "Beast" 4/0 swim bait hooks, both weighted and unweighted depending on the depth desired. This hook allows you to consistently rig the bait straight and true using its centering pin. The hook design also keeps the bait horizontal while sinking. After catching several very nice trout in less than ideal conditions at Cat Island over grass, I wanted to test the bait doing something else...I mean, I already knew what it would be great at, but would the bait work fishing over oyster reefs inside the marsh? We wanted to see. After a short run across and into the marsh, it was time to find out. Again we had trout crushing the Slick. If you are more of a tightline guy, this might be for you as it is the same principle almost but keeps your line off the reef. Though the marsh trout were smaller, they seemed to have no problems attacking the larger bait.
Technique wise, these baits are not hard to master. The most common retrieve is a twitch, twitch, pause style. Be sure to remain alert during the pause and minimize slack, as large trout will pounce on the bait during that slow sinking pause. Joey also reports some anglers have had luck with a slow, steady retrieve combined with random, small twitches. While I doubt the Slick becomes my go to bait fishing oyster reefs, there are many areas where it is already. Anywhere you are targeting bigger trout including the grass flats of Cat Island, points of Freemason and Curlew, and almost all of Chandeleur Island would be ideal areas to throw the Slick and don't forget about it while wading the surf at any of our barrier islands. The Slick is available locally at Sea 2 Swamp(Gautier), and Wicked Tackle(Gulfport). Also, be sure to watch this short video on proper rigging, doing it right can make the difference between fishing and catching! Capt Mike 228-343-7038 Slick Lure, Chandeleur Island, Biloxi Marsh, Charter Fishing, Fishing Guide, Cat Island, Mississippi Charter Fishing, Speckled Trout, MS Gulf Coast Fishing, Pass Christian, Gulfport, New Orleans, Biloxi, #troutfishing #biloximarsh #ChandaluerIsland #slicklure #fishingcharters #fishingguide #Mississippifishingguide #lifetimememories