Louisiana’s own Rat-L-Trap really shines when fall largemouths start to gang up and follow shad. One pro shares his tricks for luring bass into a trap.
It’s still pretty hot, but largemouth bass in Louisiana waters know that cooler weather is on the way. That means baitfish will start balling up, and the bass will be looking for plenty of food to stock up for the winter.
But bass beware: it’s an ideal time to get caught in a “speed trap.” And anglers be aware, too. There’s a Louisiana-made lure that is just the ticket for early fall bass — the Rat-L-Trap, a product of Bill Lewis Lures in Alexandria.
“The Rat-L-Trap is a bass bait that truly works all year long and in any kind of lake anywhere,” said bass pro Cliff Crochet of Pierre Part. “But in the late summer and early fall, it is really in its element when the shad start bunching up and the fish start aggressively following them. You can fish it around structure; you can fish it around grass beds and you can fish it over and under schools of shad. It’s not a bait they can easily say no to.”
In other words, Crochet, a former Assumption Parish sheriff’s deputy, it’s time for anglers to put the Rat-L-Trap “10-8” — police code for “in service.” And there’s no better way for a Trap to go “10-8” than at full speed.
“Look, we all learned to fish the Rat-L-Trap by letting it rip,” Crochet said. “The most-common way is to tie on a Trap and then throw and reel, throw and reel, usually as fast as we could. That still catches fish. I think it’s a reaction strike that they just can’t help. Between the action and the rattle, they just have to have it.”
In September, baitfish start to gang up in the backs of canals, on flats or even along the edges of the channels. Wherever that happens on your favorite body of water, that’s where the bass will go as well. Because they are actively feeding and in different kinds of cover, that makes the Trap a go-to lure. You sure shouldn’t let it fly under your radar when it comes to lure selection.
“Anglers can upsize their Rat-L-Trap to a ¾- or 1-ounce size, downsize their line a bit to, like, 12-pound test and really throw this lure a mile,” Crochet said. “That allows you to cover a lot of territory, and you can fish above the shad or below the shad. Most of the time, if you can get the bait below the shad, that’s where you’ll find the bigger ones.”
He also likes what he calls the “yo-yo” technique.
“There’s really no perfect equation for how to fish the lure,” Crochet said. “I like to yo-yo or stop-and-go with the lure by throwing it out, letting it get down to where the fish are, then pull it hard, stop it and reel up the slack, then repeat. A lot of times, the fish will hit it on the fall, and you have to be aware that when you feel like you are hung up, you may have a big, old bass that gulped that bait down.”
Sometimes, you have to let the fish tell you how they want it by trying different speeds, sizes and colors. But always pay attention to what you are doing, because when you catch one, that’s what you need to do to catch another one.
“The better fishermen are always doing something a little bit different, and they recognize what it is they are doing different. That separates the best from the rest,” said Crochet, whose favorite gear for Trap fishing is 12- to 20-pound Seaguar InvizX spooled on a KastKing Bassinator Elite baitcast reel with a 7-foot-3, medium-heavy KastKing Spirale rod, one he helped design.
In the fall, Crochet likes to stick to shad colors. Bill Lewis Lures really came “out of the box” this year with some amazing new colors. Among his new favorites are black crappie, white crappie, wintergreen shad, bright belly shad, sunrise shad, chrome red bones, chrome gold bones and gold mine shad. Traditional colors like the bleeding shad, silverado, chrome and smoky joe work well, too.
Two other baits Crochet said anglers need to tie on are trying floating Rat-L-Traps and also the tiny, ¼-ounce Trap. He recommends using the floater to give the fish a slower, different look. It runs only a few inches under the surface and can be cast into a school of bass, stopped, then eased along. He likes to use the smaller, ¼-ounce Trap around boat docks and trees, fishing it past the structure just like he would a spinnerbait.
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