The Deadliest Lure on the Bay
Soft plastics have proved irresistible, with Bass Assassin the tastiest
This early morning I was prospecting for stripers beside a long bulkhead reinforced with large rock piled along the base. The water there was five or six feet deep, then dropped off gradually all the way to the 30-foot depths of the channel 100 yards away.
I had never fished the area before, so to maximize my chances I selected one of the best artificial lures ever devised, a quarter-ounce Bass Assassin soft plastic jig. Tying the lure on to my three-foot fluorocarbon leader with a small loop knot to allow maximum action, I cast it out next to the bulkhead and immediately started to swim the bait back toward me.
Excellent rockfishing continues with the hottest action off the mouth of the Eastern Bay just to the inside of the Hill. Good fish, some up to 15 pounds, are schooling there and active the better part of the day. Love Point, Podickery and Poplar Island have also had some good activity and even the Bay Bridge has been producing fish, though they are on the small side. The southerly bite across to the east at the False Channel continues to please rockfish anglers headed in that direction. Trolling is becoming increasingly popular with larger baits drawing larger stripers and chumming drawing lots of rays. Live-lining continues to work well throughout the Bay, though spot for bait are leaving for the ocean.
As it cleared where I imagined the rocks ended, I let the lure drop, then twitched it to resume the retrieve. At that moment, a nice striper slammed the bait, hooking itself, then heading out toward the channel. As I held onto my straining rod and watched line peeling off the spool, I once again admired the deadly effectiveness of the lure.
Created in 1988 by Robin Shiver of Mayo, Florida, the Bass Assassin was originally a largemouth bass lure with a shad-shaped, scent-impregnated, soft silicone-based body. The bait proved so productive that it soon crossed over to saltwater use and has since dominated the inshore fishing lure market.
The Assassin moves through the water in a darting quiver that gamefish can’t resist. When a fish hits the lure, its texture is so soft and lifelike that they don’t let go, significantly increasing the chances for a good hookup.
Today there are many soft-bodied artificials similar to the Bass Assassin, each claiming unique features. But all are Bass Assassin clones. Even the original, however, is a descendent of a precedent-shattering artificial lure invented more than 60 years ago.
The great-granddaddy of all of the soft plastic lures was created in 1949 by Nick Creme, a dedicated largemouth bass angler from Tyler, Texas, who molded the first rubber worm.
That soft worm was a significant departure from other artificial baits. Those lures, now called hard baits, were fish-foolers such as spinners, wooden plugs, metal jigs (some dressed with hair) and spoons.
Those hard baits were then, and still remain, effective lures. But the quivering action and lifelike texture of the rubber worm was exponentially more effective in enticing strikes from bass, particularly large ones. Soon, no largemouth bass angler was without a box of rubber worms, in a half-dozen sizes and a dozen different colors.
A bait-revolution followed Creme’s innovation, with many new creations emulating aquatic and semi-aquatic creatures such as crayfish, frogs, salamanders, insects and finally, and most importantly for salt-water anglers, baitfish.
Well over a score of Bass Assassins and Assassin-type soft-bodied shad-shaped lures in countless colors and sizes are listed at Bass Pro Shops, the largest fishing lure retailer in America. If you’re a Chesapeake Bay angler and don’t have a few of these in your tackle box, it’s time to stock up.