Why Big Baits Are The Big Craze In The North East: By Phil Belcher Jr.

Why Big Baits Are The Big Craze In The North East: By Phil Belcher Jr.

By now it's no secret that Big Baits are all the craze up in the North East, reaching places as far north as Massachusetts, upstate New York, and Maine! Entire social media groups are being dedicated to using Big Baits only in the North East, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down!

Why Big Baits are the Big Craze in the North East:

Phillip Belcher Jr  - www.facebook.com/PhilBelcherOutdoors

By now it's no secret that Big Baits are all the craze up in the North East, reaching places as far north as Massachusetts, upstate New York, and Maine! Entire social media groups are being dedicated to using Big Baits only in the North East, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down! Both recreational anglers and tournament anglers alike are joining the trend, like recreational angler Dan Stewart of Hopkinton Massachusetts. Dan Stewart is a lifelong angler who started throwing swimbaits in 2012 for Big Bass, and his addiction to swimbait fishing grew rapidly. I had the opportunity to speak with Dan and I asked him how often he throws swimbait now and his response was over 75% of the time now! Dan is widely known and respected in Massachusetts and you can always count on him to find a big fish!

Pic 1.) Dan Stewart of Hopkinton Ma

Pic 1.) Dan Stewart of Hopkinton Ma

The swimbait craze originated in the US on the west coast back in the late 70's and early 80's with guys like Alan Cole and Bill Siemantel and several others. These guys were making big baits and casting out lures created for Striped Bass to catch giant Largemouth Bass in California! It did not take long for people to see the potential in Swimbaits, and before long lots of people were joining them in fishing and creating Swimbaits. In the early 90's several west coast anglers began making their own baits, like Mike Shaw of the company MS Slammer. We also seen baits like the Huddleston and the Castaic Baits surface on the market and the craze just went up from there. This trend continued to sweep the west coast, and spread like wild fire to the Mid-West and the South. For many years anglers in the North East didn't believe that Largemouth Bass would eat big baits as they did not reach near the size of a California Bass. The state record Largemouth Bass in California is an astounding 21 pounds and 12 ounces caught in 1991 by angler Michael Arujo. In comparison the State record bass for Maine is a respectable 11 pounds, 10 ounces caught in 1968 by angler Robert Kamp. Trout stocked ponds are a key in finding some of these big bass that are willing to eat big baits no matter where you are, see the picture below of Massachusetts angler Jesse Manning with a 7 pound 8 ounce Largemouth caught right after Ice out in early March!

 

Pic 2.) Jesse Manning of Holden Ma.

Pic 2.) Jesse Manning of Holden Ma.

There is a lot of speculation on why bass in the North East don't grow to near the size of their West Coast relatives. One of the widely accepted reasons is the significantly shorter feeding season that bass have in the North East due to the fall and winter season, in which most bodies of water experience ice and/or much colder water temps. During these months the fish become less active and lethargic. Due to the cold water in our winter months the fish slow down, oxygen levels drop, and with these environmental changes their feeding habits change as well. Unlike the West Coast and other areas with warmer climates we are to wait for the ice to melt and disperse before our water temps rise and the fish begin to feed during our pre-spawn period. During the winter many anglers take to ice fishing to scratch the fishing itch and also to target species that are active during the winter months. Unlike the West Coast and other areas with warmer climates we are to wait for the ice to melt and disperse before our water temps rise and the fish begin to feed during our pre-spawn period. During the winter many anglers take to ice fishing to scratch the fishing itch and also to target species that are active during the winter months.

 

 

Pic 3.) Brook Trout caught Ice Fishing by Phil Belcher Jr 2015

Pic 3.) Brook Trout caught Ice Fishing by Phil Belcher Jr 2015

As the popularity of swimbaits continues to rise in the North East we see local businesses striving with the trend! Tackle shops like MGC Fishing Supplies in Hanover, MA began carrying more swimbaits then conventional baits. MGC carries everything such as the well-known Spro BBZ-1 swimbaits, Huddleston’s, Bull-Shads, MS Slammers, Savage Gear, and more including local company Daddy Mac Lures. The owners of Daddy Mac Lures are from Abington Ma and added their first swimbait in 2013 with the Viper Series which gained great popularity with guys like James Young throwing them constantly. James Young and I have been great friends over the last few years, he is better known as “Squidman” around here. James is an elevator mechanic by day, a father by afternoon, and one hell of a fisherman by night!

Pic 4.) James Young from Bridgewater Ma with a late night Largemouth on a Daddy Mac Gill XL

Pic 4.) James Young from Bridgewater Ma with a late night Largemouth on a Daddy Mac Gill XL

I was giving the opportunity to speak with Mike Shaw of the MS Slammer Company from Utah. As you read earlier, Mike Shaw began making swimbaits in the early 90’s and continues to make these lures today at his home. 

Pic 5.) MS Slammer 9” bait by Mike Shaw from Cedar City, Utah

Pic 5.) MS Slammer 9” bait by Mike Shaw from Cedar City, Utah

I had the opportunity to speak with Mike Shaw of the MS Slammer company, a renowned and proven Swimbait manufacturer, and ask him some questions:

Q.) I have been told your baits were made specifically for striped bass, however during the Swimbait craze your baits quickly became recognized and became a staple of the Swimbait game in the early 90's. It is true that you baits were made for striped bass?
A.) "Yes it’s true, I originally designed it for freshwater stripers in Calif but it soon became a major player in the Bass market and Lake Trout"

Q.) Have you noticed that your baits are being sold in higher volume in the north east in recent years?
A.) "Absolutely! Almost all I personally sell goes there."

Q.) Do you have any speculations on why that is?
A.) "It catches fish and people really like it. I feel so blessed to have such a great following."

Q.) Do you have retailers in the North East that have your baits available for sale?
A.) "To see my baits in person you can visit MGC Bait & Tackle in Hanover Mass, or Powderhorn Bait & Tackle in Hyannis Mass. If you would like to purchase them online, they are available from TackleWarehouse.com and SwimbaitCity.com!"

 

If you are wondering if Big baits work still… find out for yourself and give it a try! Feel free to contact me directly with any questions! Phil@AnglersInformer.com or www.Facebook.com/AnglersInformer

 

Pic 6.) Phil Belcher Jr with a Largemouth caught on a Fred Arborgast AC Plug 9.5”

Pic 6.) Phil Belcher Jr with a Largemouth caught on a Fred Arborgast AC Plug 9.5”

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