Big topwater bait a consistent fish collector
Is anything sacred any more?
Yes and no.
A prime example is the revered Heddon Spook, which for more than half a century has done its walk-the-dog act to trigger so many strikes coast to coast and around the world. As Heddon Lures would say, it was like capturing lightning in a bottle when retrieved in the hands of a skilled angler.
But even an artificial lure history buff like Kim Norton knows when it comes to catching fish a little tuck here, a major tweak there on an old, historic reliable and, yes, sacred topwater bait like that could well become the next go-to artificial lure for decades.
The Fort Smith, Ark., artificial lure designer has taken the Heddon Spook and made a Heddon Chug’n Spook.
Oh, thankfully, Spooks still are on the shelves but, so many grateful anglers say, so are Chug’n Spooks. It features a concave face that doesn’t affect the walk-the-dog retrieve while it chugs, spits and splashes water at the same time, catching bass, redfish, speckled trout and whatever else wants to bite it.
“It’s my baby,” Norton admitted, proudly, while talking about the new artificial lure that was just a gleam in his eye eight months ago this month. “When it comes to the Chug’n Spook, the daddy was a Lucky 13 and the mama was a Spook.”
It is imposing looking, front to back.
The 5 7/8-inch, 1-ounce topwater has risen quickly in the world of sport fishing, both freshwater and saltwater.
Norton knows first-hand what it can do when targeting speckled trout and redfish, while Chris Elder of Mt. Ida, Ark., has countless stories to tell about its effectiveness on bass — big, big bass — in nearby Lake Ouachita.
On a saltwater fishing trip in late April, Norton, who was in the Sportsman’s Paradise for an extended stay this spring, and others tapped the speckled trout population in Grand Lagoon at Reggio and caught 4- and 5-pound speckled trout consistently on Chug’n Spooks, he said.
“It is one sweet-walking topwater bait,” Norton said about a week after that outing.
Norton tested it about as judiciously as it could be tested last fall during a period in mid-September along the coast in Southeast Louisiana. He and another veteran saltwater fisherman went out on a fact-finding fishing trip with identical fishing rods, fishing reels and fishing line.
One of them threw a red/white head Chug’n Spook, while the other offered the fish a proven Super Spook.
Every 30 minutes the anglers switched fishing rods.
At the end of the three-day period, the results were tallied: The Chug’n Spook triggered five times more bites and landings of speckled trout and redfish than the Super Spook, Norton said.
Then he took the Chug’n Spook back to Arkansas, where Elder and veteran artificial lure manufacturer Bruce Stanton “absolutely crushed the big bass on that trip to Lake Ouachita.”
“I was very impressed with it. It looks like something big fish will eat, and they do,” Elder said. “It’s a good bait, with chugging action like a Lucky 13 and big old-type chuggers. It’s pretty. It’s a bigger bait, and it makes a different action than you’re used to seeing — and the (special One Knocker) rattle might make a difference.”
The turnaround from the moment the germ of an idea was molded and tweaked into an efficient artificial lure — with patient trial and error on getting the “scoop” at the nose just right — as a prototype in mid-September, to the moment it went into production for the public was lightning fast compared to the rate of other new artificial lures manufactured by Heddon Lure Co. in Fort Smith, Ark.
“It’s probably the fastest we’ve ever come to market with anything,” Norton said. “By the end of September, we moved it to the front of the manufacturing line so we could get it on the market as soon as possible. By the end of December, first of January, it was on the market.”
Its reception? Fantastic, he said.
Just ask Elder, a 48-year-old outdoorsman who owns an auto dealership and has worked as a fishing guide for two decades on Lake Ouachita. He got his first good look at it when he was given that prototype last September.
“Oh, yeah, I’ve caught some good fish on it, real good fish,” Elder said the first week of May. “It’s a real good tournament bait. I think it’s a great bait they came out with, especially for tournament fishermen, especially after you get a limit.
“The next cast, the next time you walk that thing, it can be a 5- or 10-pounder.”
He was in great spirits at the time because Stanton and Heddon Lures had just supplied him with three more shad-colored Chug’n Spooks.
“I’ve got three of them, and I’m tickled to have them,” he said. “I’ve got me some now. I’m fixing to use them.”
The Chug’n Spooks are armed and dangerous, he said, noting the sharp No. 2 XCalibur Tx3 hooks and the quality O-rings. They are available in 26 color patterns.
“Once you hook up with them (hawgs), they ain’t coming off the hook,” Elder said.
Norton said he want to make it “very castable,” and he did, according to Elder, who loves to fling it far off to points in deep water with structure in Lake Ouachita.
He can envision similar long casts that produce at Lake Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend, as well as in saltwater environs.
“You can throw it so far. If you see a fish breaking 60 yards away, you can catch him. And you can throw it as far as you want to throw it,” Elder said.
For more information on the Chug’n Spook and other Heddon Lure Co. artificial lures, like the new and souped up saltwater Super Spook, call 479-782-8971 or go to www.lurenet.com.
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