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Bill Prater
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Howling against the wind
4/21/2022 9:45:00 AM
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How to conserve your bait during a Pandemic

Blog by: Bill Prater 1/19/2022
 Here is a positive thing that may never have occurred without the mental stimulation of a Pandemic:  Through trial and error, good weather and bad, I have taught myself how to really conserve and scrimp on my bait. Now in the third year of our collective Covid-19 experience, I, like many of you, distract myself with useful discoveries about fishing that might not have occurred in normal times. In particular, let's discuss my successful search for ways to maximize the effective life of the classic but recently scarce 2 1/2-inch Berkley Gulp Minnow. 
If that sounds too specific for your liking, I concede the same techniques will likely work with the 3-, 4- and possibly even 5-inch Gulp Minnow. And yeah, they can be adapted by clever readers for use with other types of minnow baits from other worthy and popular bait manufacturers. But I, personally, have been a devotee of the handsome 2 1/2 inch Gulp since learning about it more than a decade ago from Chad LaChance, legendary Fort Collins guru on all things relating to Rocky Mountain angling. 
Anyway, back to the Pandemic: In early 2020, as Covid-19 was first spreading worldwide, I was mortified when all sizes and colors of Gulp Minnow - along with damn near every other type of fishing gear and bait - abruptly disappeared from the shelves of sporting goods stores. Distribution miseries aside, it seemed every retiree and everyone playing hooky from work or school began either taking up the sport of fishing or overflowing our fishing waters with paddleboards. (Though that's a rant for another day.) 
Even now, you can still be skunked in your search for many types of quality angling gear and bait, even online or directly from the manufacturer. (Everyone who was in school in the late 1960s can recall the catch phrase, "Turn on, tune in, drop out." Today's youth will look back on the equally ubiquitous, "Sorry. Out of Stock.") Prices, meanwhile, continue to rise like the cost of a chicken. 
Which brings us to my contribution to an educated angling public:  How to maximize the value of your Gulp Minnow. The same technique may be applied to other soft plastic minnows, but I am as monogamous about my baits as I am about a 54-year marriage.  Anyway, to most fish worth catching, Gulp products are both tasty and smell good; their main drawback besides price is, the oil-based plastic is kinda soft. It tears too easily. Catch one or two fish with teeth or sharp gums, and you may find yourself reaching for another costly or even worse, scarce little bait. 
Here is that recommended alternative: Start with a 1/16th oz. or smaller jig, with a short shank and wire keeper (To minimize the tearing, use thin wire hooks, crimp your barbs and avoid jigs with a poured lead collar, common on most crappie jigs. You can also remove that darned bulky collar with a pair of fingernail clippers) Run the hook through the head and out through the top of the bait. Fish until the bait begins to tear away from the head.

Then, instead of reaching for a new bait, turn your minnow over, so the white side is exposed, and hook it the same way. After doing this many, many times, in all kinds of weather and water, I can testify the fish don't seem to notice the difference. 

When that side wears out, cautiously pop the head in your mouth and lop off about an 1/8th inch. Obviously  it is not going to be as streamlined as before. But again, most fish don't seem to mind. The practice does impart an unmistakable, proprietary Gulp flavor and taste to your lips. But that's what mouthwash is for. And anyway, after 54 years or so of marriage, your spouse is unlikely to notice a new type of lingering aroma. 

  • And finally, when THAT part of the minnow also inevitably tears, you can often bite off another 1/8-inch or so, and repeat the process as many times as common sense allows. In practical terms, that means until the minnow is down to an inch or so in length, when it's likely to be torn somewhere else anyway, and needing to be retired. 
  • One other thing: if you also fish with 1-inch minnows, which I highly recommend, keep the little jar and use it to dunk Gulp products of any size after every 20 minutes or so of fishing. Even Berkley recommends this to recharge your minnow and keep it attractive to fish longer. (I've tried soaking other brands of plastic in Gulp, by the way; they don't seem to absorb the liquid nearly as well. If I'm using another type of soft plastic, I dab it with a crawdad or earthworm scent like Pro-Cure or MegaStrike.  
  • By doing this, you can annoy your spouse but thrill your fishing buddies, while stretching a single bag of minnows through several days of productive fishing.  
  • You're welcome.  Have any other bait-saving or other ideas? Share with the rest of us.

Blog content © Bill Prater
Blog Comments
GingerLife, 1/19/2022 5:41:46 PM
Haha that was a great read and sound advice! Thanks Bill
Kithme, 1/20/2022 1:36:48 PM
Thank you. BTW, I love your articles. Please clarify something in this article." I am as monogamous about my baits as I am about a 54-year marriage" Are you exclusive to Berkeleys, Glup Minnows, 2.5" green/white plastics? joking. Thanks for a good quick break.
Bill Prater (fishthumpre), 1/20/2022 5:22:17 PM
Re the monogamy: aw, being a flawed human being, I do stray from the path of righteousness now and then. I've had a casual fling for awhile now with Ned rigs and Z-man plastics...I've also gotten obsessive about how small I can go with my gear. : )
Barnacles, 1/20/2022 6:08:51 PM
Great stuff. I've been biting off my plastics since I saw Bill Dance do it on TV. Friend of mine bit off a piece of a Mister Twister like that. Somehow, he inhaled it into his respiratory system. After two days of hacking, it came flying out of his nose like a rocket.
spinn3r, 1/25/2022 1:20:34 PM
In conclusion, use a knife and stop the spread of bait droplets.
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