I’ve learned some great tips and tactics writing this column. I’ve also learned you can’t be thin-skinned when you put your work out there for other folks to read.
You see, everyone has his own opinion about things and everyone is a critic. Heck, my own mother-in-law got in on the game while reading one of my columns, pointed out that I’m not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition.
I told her, “Well, it’s never mattered before.”
John Lydgate nailed it.
“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time,” Lydgate said.
This has absolutely nothing to do with fishing, but it has everything to do with what led me to this month’s topic on an inexpensive tool for your tackle box.
A couple of months ago, I wrote about spending a few extra dollars on braided line. Boy howdy, did that spur some interesting conversations — especially from the 10-pound-test bulk-spool monofilament folks.
Look, I’m no rocket surgeon or brain scientist, but I’m smart enough to know fish can be caught on the least-expensive tackle. I do believe, however, your chances of success increase if you have the right tools for the job.
Sometimes high-dollar braid is the best tool; sometimes an inexpensive nine-pack of D.O.A. Shrimp is the best tool.
I’ve never given much thought to the D.O.A Shrimp. I just assumed it was some bulk-produced plastic shipped here from China for googans to use — it’s not.
D.O.A is a company that makes a plethora of soft plastics right here in the good ole U.S.A.
The D.O.A. Shrimp is not fancy at all, but people buy the fire out of them — and they do catch fish.
A nine-pack that includes weights and hooks only costs a few dollars.
As I’ve said before, I’m a creature of habit. One of those habits is to eat lunch at Wayne Lee’s in Pascagoula a couple of times per week.
And on my way to the deli counter, I pass through the tackle section to see what’s new on the shelves.
Earlier this the year, I noticed a section about 3 feet wide, 2 feet deep and 2 feet tall filled with chartreuse/red glitter D.O.A. Shrimp nine-packs.
I passed by and shrugged it off as stocking up for the spring season.
Two days later I was back for my favorite day of the week — liver-and-onions Thursday — and made the same pass through the tackle section.
There were maybe six packs of those D.O.A. Shrimp left.
I grabbed three packs on the way to the deli, just to make sure I had some — for what, I had no idea other than I had to have them right then.
Prior to that fateful Thursday, the only way I’d seen or heard of people using a D.O.A was under a popping cork. I was quite certain that wasn’t what was going on here, so I started asking around.
Come to find out it was the local commercial fishermen buying most of these D.O.A.s. This little 3-inch nondescript plastic shrimp is what these guys use as their primary bait to make a living catching and selling trout.
They’re not using the latest and greatest high-dollar shrimp imitators: They’re using a darn rigid chunk of plastic that I had lumped in there with the multi-swivel Gulf rigs you see hanging in Walmart.
The 3-inch D.O.A. Shrimp comes with a ¼-ounce weight that inserts into a cavity in the bait. The hook is inserted into a pre-rigged tunnel through the bait.
The bait is dense, so coupled with the weight insert you can cast one fairly easily.
But here’s the kicker: This bait looks pretty darn boring in the water, so why on earth would a trout hit it?
To find out, I did some more asking around, experimenting and pondering how a shrimp looks in the water.
The folks who are catching fish on a D.O.A. Shrimp are fishing them in such a manner as to make it look as natural as possible by adjusting the weight being used based on the conditions.
When the water temperature is cold — in the mid-50s or colder — use the ¼-ounce insert along with a ¼-ounce jighead fished slowly on the bottom in deeper bayous or the river.
When the water temperature starts to warm, use the ¼-ounce insert or a light jighead and fish it slowly through the water column on ledges adjacent to deep water with a straight retrieve.
The first time I tried fishing a D.O.A. Shrimp right out of the pack with a slow retrieve, I visualized all the times I had seen shrimp swimming around. Whether swimming along with the current in the bay or swimming in my snazzy Bait Saver tank, a shrimp moves by swimming slowly with its tiny legs.
Sure, there are times when shrimp go skipping across the surface, darting through the water with its tail or scooting along the bottom, but most of the time shrimp are leisurely swimming with the tide using nothing but their legs.
That, my friend, is why the D.O.A. Shrimp is so effective: It looks like a shrimp cruising with the tide during a slow and steady retrieve, so tame that desire to do a lot of twitching and popping.
Slow and steady, man.
As fate would have it, I saw the owner/creator of D.O.A. on a fishing show recently. Mr. Mark Nichols was giving a tour of the D.O.A. factory, and his no-nonsense demeanor and cool old-guy fisherman attitude made me want to try his baits even more.
A quick search on YouTube will lead you to numerous videos featuring Mr. Nichols. I listed one below that gives a brief breakdown on his shrimp and how to fish them.
The entire video is great, but I want to share a few lines that caught my ear.
“I’ve had so many people come up to me with a lot of the knockoffs of the shrimp these days, and some of them look so alive I want to throw them in the water and boil them,” Nichols said. “That’s all well and good, but one of my favorite fish-catching colors is glow over gold. I’ve never seen a glow over gold (live shrimp); it doesn’t look natural if you put it in a shrimp tank compared to other baits, but it catches fish.
“My concern is to catch fish — not to be the prettiest one but to be the one that works, and this is a good extremely consistent color.”
This might fire up some of the pretty-shrimp people and, in their defense, those catch fish, too, so keep your shirt on.
Two primary things got me fired up about D.O.A. Shrimp: First, the owner and creator is just one cool dude who can flat out fish and, second, there are guys who buy these baits to feed their families.
So if you pass by a rack of D.O.A. product, grab a few because the next time you walk by the rack might be empty.
And if you like liver and onions, come to Wayne Lee’s in Pascagoula on Thursday around 11 a.m:, I’ll be the fat guy in jeans and a Mojo manternity shirt carrying on with the deli staff.