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If it’s small and spins, it’ll catch fish

If you like freshwater fishing, you can’t go wrong with spinners.

They are generally small enough to fit into the mouth of everything from bluegill to speckled perch to bass to catfish. Some of the spinner blades are rounded, some long and slender, and the various shapes and sizes make them turn more easily, less easily or with vibration.

An in-line spinner made by Capt. Doc Lee saved me the other day on the Upper Manatee River. I’d paddled out to the Lake Manatee dam from Ray’s Canoe Hideaway, and as the sun began to set, I put two poles out the back of the canoe, trolling an in-line spinner and a small contraption Capt. Doc Lee calls his bead-eye spinner.

I had fished chicken livers and shrimp for 15 minutes without a bite, intent on catching any fish that would bite.

Then, as I weaved toward structure along the shoreline trolling two spinners, a channel catfish, about 3 pounds, bit the spinner. The catfish later that night would be found filleted, fried, and served with mashed potatoes and a noodle medley in alfredo sauce.

Bottom line is, it seems many anglers try to get away with bigger lures than they need.

Take what happened to Capt. Doc Lee yesterday as an example:

“One boat I saw, a bass boat with two guys and two girls went by, and they were going up the river and hadn’t caught anything,” Lee said. “I was looking, and their baits were those huge worms and plugs on spinning outfits. I said, ‘Look, do you have any beetle spins?’ They said, ‘Yeah.’ I told them if they have some in there, use them for bluegill. They popped on beetle spins and went up the river and came down an hour later, and they’d just torn the bluegill up on beetle spins.”

Good ole beetle spins.

Anything that’s small and spins, has been known to catch fish from Florida to the mountain lakes and streams I used to fish in Colorado.

Kind of like spoons. Lee, in fact, had been catching speckled and white catfish by jigging one-inch gold spoons on the bottom of Lake Evers. He’ll put a spoon about 9 feet below an indicator cork, depending on water depth, and twitch the spoons, then let it float to the bottom. The fish tend to hit it on the drop, which is typically the case when fishing jigs.

Of course, colors are key. At nighttime, go with luminous colors. In dark water, the good anglers know to go with darker colors such as black or purple, or fluorescent colors. In clean, celar water, light yellow and green tend to work well. The whole point is to use a color that shows best in the water.

If an angler were to take some spinners and fish them against overhanging structure in the Upper Manatee River, Lake Manatee, Braden River, or Lake Evers, he should come back with a fish fry to brag about.

Until that time, long live the spinner.