...TC Spinnerbaits are one of my favorite bass lures when fishing area waters such as Liberty, Prettyboy and Piney Run reservoirs.
The biggest largemouth I ever pulled out of Loch Raven Reservoir hit a spinner, and I believe that if I had to choose one lure to use all the time, under all conditions, the nod would go to spinners. They attract a better quality bass and provide for the highest hooking percentage.
Spinnerbaits have been productive for me in almost every conceivable water and weather condition. There are some places where another lure might do a better job, but I have found that you catch fish with a spinner in situations ranging from inches of water on a bank to 30-foot drop-offs. In short, there is no place the lure won't work.
I especially like to use spinners during early spring or another time when water is high and colored. I've caught bass on this bait when the water temperature was down in the mid-40s and as warm as a hot August sun can boil it. The only other lure that is as versatile is the plastic worm, which unlike the spinnerbait can be difficult to feel hits with under many situations.
I have had especially good luck with a chartreuse and white 1/2 -ounce Nichols Pulsator spinnerbait with a silver No. 4 willow blade on the back. Both blades have a metal-flake finish. The combination of the thickness of its wire, the metal-flake finish on the blades and the design of its head will attract bass in a wide variety of situations.
Obviously, though, no single spinnerbait will turn the trick in every situation. In most cases, the size of the spinner is dictated by the size of the prevalent baitfish in the area you are fishing. I generally attempt to match the size of the shad or other baitfish that the bass are feeding on.
For most of my spinnerbait fishing, I use 17-pound test regardless of the clarity of the water. If I'm fishing 10 feet down or deeper, I might go to a 12-pound test to get down deeper, or around real heavy cover, exceed 20-pound test.
A lot of anglers use a plastic trailer all the time on a spinnerbait, but I don't except in muddy water, when I'll use a curled-tail plastic for vibration. I don't think a trailer is as important since the advent and general use of silicone skirts. These skirts are real natural in the water -- they shimmer like a real baitfish and, in my experiences, tend to out-fish other skirts on a consistent basis.
A few years back, bass pro Kevin VanDam gave me one of the best tips I ever got: "Always use a trailer hook with a spinnerbait. The number of bass you will catch on that second hook will be well worth the aggravation of hanging up in cover."
A final word: The most productive retrieve can only be determined by experimenting every time out. Let the fish tell you what they want. A lot of times, a straight retrieve is good, but in other situations, you need to shake the bait or jiggle it a little -- especially when fishing around cover. When you hit something, let it fall, or maybe hit it and shake the lure a couple of times.
Local events scheduled
The Northern Maryland Bassmasters are sponsoring a fisherman's flea market today from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Pleasant Hill Fire Company, four miles north of Manchester on Route 30.
* Backyard bird and wildlife watchers will want to register for two programs at the Piney Run Nature Center, Eldersburg. Tomorrow, at 7 p.m. Mary Oros will demonstrate how to build and decorate a miniature bird house and feeder from a gourd. On Tuesday, "Gardening To Attract Wildlife" will begin at 7:30 p.m. Call (410) 795-6043 to register.
* Fly-fishing fans won't want to miss the third Fly Fishing Show next weekend at the University of Maryland's Reckord Armory in College Park. The show opens at 9 a.m. each day. Admission is $10 for adults. Along with hundreds of displays, classes will be given by some of the biggest names in angling -- Ed Jaworowski, Bob Clouser, Wayne Cattanach, Joe Bruce and Brady Bounds, to name but a few.
* The closest scheduled public hearing on the Department of Natural Resources' proposed 1995-96 hunting seasons and regulations will be at Timber Grove Elementary School in Owings Mills at 7 p.m. March 21.