“There’s gold in them thar bays,” spoken as a play on words of Yosemite Sam’s famous cartoon quote. In the case of winter and early spring saltwater fishing, it means tie on gold-hued lures and hit the motherlode of inshore species.
Gold baits have a long and storied history with inshore anglers. In fact, gold is the defacto color for many guides and seasoned anglers from winter into spring; specifically, metallic gold, as in saltwater strong spoons and spinnerbaits. Keep these styles of lures at the ready and you’ll be properly invested for the cool-water months.
Spoons are the eldest and simplest to fish, and have never lost their luster with fish. So, dispatch with any preconceived notions that chunking a spoon means being a neophyte or ignorant to the wealth of progressive baits on the market. Spoons are sagely and foolproof.
Bagley spoons are the gold standard for inshore anglers. Outwardly, most spoons are clones of one another, especially in the packaging. However, their actions can vary dramatically. Some are simply duds on the retrieve, eliciting minimal action and flash. Bagley spoons, conversely, are rich in both categories.
Bagley’s Brite Casting Spoon is a saltwater charmer. Available in ¼, ½ and ¾-ounces, these American-made, authentically forged spoons feature a tapered edge that results in an aerodynamic design, promoting epic casts and a variable flutter in water. Both the gold and silver versions are plated for maximum display and durability. The Brite Casting Spoon is finished with a premium black nickel treble hook and red attractor tag.
Consider Bagley’s Brite Casting Spoon your first play casting the surf, or from jetties and piers. Experiment with size and weight governed by casting distance requirements and the species at hand. Ocean-goers such as speckled trout, redfish, ladyfish and Spanish mackerel maraud within pedestrian casting distance, especially in the presence of visible bait.
Weedless spoons are top performers amongst inshore vegetation. Bagley’s Weedless Spoonoutdoes all lookalikes in action, flash and durability. Like the Brite Casting Spoon, the American-made Weedless Spoon is genuinely forged and contoured for maximum casting distance and wobble in the water.
Fish Bagley’s Weedless Spoon naked, or garnish with a properly sized and shaped soft plastic trailer. One of the finest is Z-Man’s ElaZtech 2- or 3-1/2” GrubZ. Simply thread it onto the hook shank and you’ve instantly intensified action, and in the opinion of many, the spoon’s fish-catching prowess. The Chartreuse Sparkle pattern creates a consistent overall appearance.
Z-Man’s ElaZtech Turbo CrawZ is equally endorsed. Intended to mimic a crawfish, the crustacean-copying Turbo CrawZ does a good job replicating a crab. Redbone and Blue Craw patterns are effective across the saltwater bait spectrum, and are also available on the Z-Man PaddlerZ, a favorite inshore paddletail.
Improve your odds retrieving a Bagley Weedless Spoon by snapping the rod, causing the lure to abruptly surge, delivering added flash. Let the spoon settle for a second or two on a slack line. The spoon will cradle rock downward, fluttering, simulating an injured and highly tempting baitfish. Attach a snap to the end of your line to maximize action and minimize line twist.
A hairpin styled spinnerbait with gold blade yields the optimum one-two punch. Spinners are most effective retrieved on a straight path over shallow weeds. Lighter 1/8- and 3/16-ounce spinners can be run high in the water column, between the weed tops and surface. Spinners also afford the ability to supplement color by rigging a soft plastic body of your choosing. Paddletail bodies in natural baitfish colors are proven, as are white and red. Use a gold patterned body if you prefer a symbiotic look. Z-Man’s saltwater grade BullZeye Spinnerbait is great choice, especially when paired with a 4-inch Z-Man DieZel MinnowZ paddletail body. The BullZeye Spinner employs a 17-7 stainless LiveWire™ frame for maximum vibration. Custom size 4 and 4.5 gold-plated Colorado blades ride the coffee-colored wire for minimal wire reflection and optimal reverberation. A stainless-steel ball bearing swivel maximizes rotation and durability. The wire arm connects to the EyeStrike® Swimbait Eye™ jighead with a quick-clip attachment for convenient jighead changes. The pro-grade EyeStrike jighead features oversized 3D eyeballs for strike attraction, armed with a 3/0 heavy duty VMC® hook and extra sharp keeper barbs molded into the jighead. They’re available in 1/8-, 3/16-, and 1/4-ounce sizes.
Both offerings are best fished on braided line. Its narrow diameters cast far and cut the water, while providing utmost sensitivity. Daiwa’s J-Braid x8 GRAND in 15-pound is my personal favorite. Tie in a 24-inch section of Daiwa J-Fluoro Leader to add invisibility and a smidgen of stretch for solid but not rigid hooksets. The fluorocarbon leader also reduces tangling on the cast. If you’re new to tying braided line to a leader, there are countless instructional videos on YouTube. Regardless of the knot you employ, it never hurts to seal and protect the connection with a drop of high-quality fishing glue like Zap-A-Gap.