Cold Water Rat-L-Trap Fishing
In this article, I will be talking to you about a bait that has
been around since the early '70s. I can remember on Lake Conroe
one afternoon when a gentleman came in with a case of
Rat-L-Trap's and set them down on the counter. He told the
proprietor of the Marina to distribute these baits to his guides
and his local fishermen. Since that day the Rat-L-Trap has made a
drastic change. I can remember that someone left a Rat-L-Trap on
the dash of their truck and from the heat of the sun the bait
swelled. With the chamber being a little larger the bait gave off
more vibration. There were people boiling them in hot water
trying to get the bait to expand! Soon there were many baits that
copied the ever popular Rat-L-Trap. The best way to describe this
type of bait is to call it a lipless crankbait.
by Lake Fork Guide Jim Reaneau
During the months of January, February and
March, you can take the Rat-L-Trap and cover a lot of
water from the bank out to fifteen foot of water. You can
actually throw a Rat-L-Trap year-round in Texas, but I have never
seen a bait that will get bass to strike at it so eagerly in 46
degree water. I have thrown a multitude of baits in cold water
but none has ever drawn the strikes that the Rat-L-Trap does. I
have slow rolled spinner baits and crank baits, flipped jigs in
this cold water and none surpass the Rat-L-Trap. On Lake Fork,
the red crawfish pattern bait is the most popular during this
time of year.
You need a high speed 6.1 ratio reel and
a medium heavy rod with 15 to 20 pound line to work the
Rat-L-Trap effectively. If you use one of the slower retrieve
reels, it will wear out your arm.
There is an art to fishing this bait.
When fishing grass I like to tick the top of the grass and rip
the bait up and let it fall back down. Be prepared as the bait is
falling back to the mat as that is when most strikes will occur.
Sometimes the bite will feel like a slight pressure or as if you
have picked up some grass. You will have to be on your toes to
detect these strikes. As the water warms the strike will become
Another technique is to fish the bait through timber and
periodically run it into the standing timber and stall the
retrieve and start again. Also, run the bait through limbs and
over logs. As the bait passes over the structure let it fall and
start again. The strike will normally occur on the fall or just
as the bait starts again.
Size and color is another area you
will have to experiment with. Some days a 3/4 ounce is best and
on other days a 1/4 ounce is better. The trap has two hooks on it
and I normally change these hooks as soon as I take the bait out
of the package. I like to use a little stronger hook. Sometimes I
change the belly hook to a larger size which helps to hook more
fish. The Trap is well known for being thrown free while fighting
fish. Normally I use this larger hook around grass more than
timber. When fishing in the timber or very shallow water this
bait has a tendency to hang up a lot. Once you realize you have
hung the bait and it is not a fish, don't whip or bow your rod by
pulling on it. This will load your rod just like you were drawing
an arrow on a bow and should the bait come loose it will come
back at you at twice the speed of sound and with those two treble
hooks, look out! The worse part is it may miss you and hit your
buddy or the worse case scenario, the guide. MERCY! To be
serious, when you retrieve your Trap and it does hang up, don't
jerk on the line but drop slack and shake the rod tip loosely. If
this does not dislodge the bait try the old banjo trick.
Disengage your reel, get enough line to wrap it around your hand
and leave slack. Grab the slack with the other hand and pull it
taught and release it as if you were plucking a banjo. Sometimes
the slack line will shoot towards the bait and shake it loose. It
is a lot easier to show someone this trick than put it in print.
If you are using braided line, I don't recommend wrapping it
around anything that I want to keep intact on my body. Get
yourself a stick and wrap it around that.
Be careful. If there is one thing
about fishing a Rat-L-Trap that I want to impress upon you it is
to be careful. As I said earlier, a fish can shake this bait free
in a matter of seconds and it can come screaming back at you like
a bullet. It is funny how the fish can get away but if the bait
hangs on something it is there for life. I always said if I were
going to fly on an airplane I would take along a couple of
Rat-L-Traps because if the plane was going to crash I could jump
out and the Traps would hang on something before I hit the
I hope this will help you to catch some winter fish.
Lake Fork Guide Jim Reaneau
has the experience to help you have a marvelous fishing trip
having been a full time guide for eight years. Uncle Larry Bolton
taught Jim how to fish as a young boy and got him interested in
bass fishing. Jim has been fishing for bass primarily since the
age of 13. He even hunted on the land before Lake Fork was built.
He is no stranger to fishing in tournaments
either. Jim started fishing tournaments in 1973 on Lake
Livingston -- winning a couple and placing in several. While in
the Houston area, Jim was a member of the Humble bass club.
Jim & his wife, Sherry, have been married for
28 years. Sherry is from this area. Eight years ago a move from
Houston brought them to the Lake Fork area permanently. As a
couple, being associated with the area for the past 28 years, it
was coming home.
Give Jim a call: Toll Free 1-888-918-5088 or
Visit Jim's web site at http://members.tripod.com/~bassone/
Email Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org