The relics of the forefathers of bass fishing to modern-day finesse

The relics of the forefathers of bass fishing to modern-day finesse

For decades In-Fisherman has recommended versatility as a piscatorial attribute.  And on September 14, Brent Frazee ofParkville,Missouri, exhibited an extraordinary tribute to the art of versatility.  In the eyes of some bass anglers, however,  Frazee's versatility will look a touch odd and way out of date.

The out-of-date piece of Frazee's day began slightly after the first ghost light of dawn, when Warren Platt of Kansas City and Bill Sonnett of Jackson, Michigan, climbed into Frazee's boat at Riss Lake, Missouri, carrying two 1933 Heddon Pal seamless tubular steel rods fitted with either a Pflueger Supreme reel or Shakespeare Marhoff reel and a True Temper seamless tubular steel rod fitted with a Pflueger Nobby reel. The reels were spooled with 12-pound-test braided nylon line and a four-foot 12-pound-test monofilament leader. Each outfit sported a vintage topwater lure, such as an Arbogast Jitterbug, Creek Chub Baby Injured Minnow, Creek Chub Plunker, and Heddon Chugger.

Except for the line and leader, all of their tackle was more than a half of a century old.

Since the late 1990s, Frazee, who is the outdoors editor for the Kansas City Star, has fished with Platt, 72, and Sonnett, 67, a number of times and written several newspaper stories about them.

For instance, one of Frazee's recent stories on Sonnett appeared in the August 11 edition of the Kansas City Star, which featured Sonnett fishing Stony Lake, Michigan, wielding antique baitcasting equipment in his old-fashioned boat, which was powered by a 7.5 horsepower outboard motor and a pair of oars. On this outing, Sonnett tangled with an impressive array of bass, and the story about his catch can be seen at

Platt and Sonnett are nationally known collectors of antique fishing tackle. Both have become exceedingly proficient at wielding these old wares and catching bass with them. They also compete in tournaments, such as the Missouri Old Time Tackle Tournament, at which anglers must employ tackle, including the line,  that was manufactured before 1940. The Missouri tourney combines distance and accuracy casting competitions, as well as a bass fishing contest.

When Platt and Sonnett joined Frazee on their September 14 crack-of-dawn outing, they inveigled 27 largemouth bass, including one that almost weighed six pounds that Platt allured to his ancient Baby Injured Minnow.

Later that day, about three hours before the hot, late summer sun was setting on the western horizon and cutting apricot- and raspberry-colored ribbons out of a massive bank of stratus clouds, Frazee made a 180-degree turn in his approach for catching largemouth bass atRissLake. On this twilight outing, he became a finesse angler, working with a six-foot, light-powered St. Croix Premier spinning rods. His spinning reels were spooled with four-pound-test monofilament. To his line, he tied a 1/16-ounce black jig. Each jig sported Z-Man's 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ in either an PB&J or a Junebug hue, a Z-Man's  four-inch Finesse ShadZ in a green pumpkin shade, a Kalin grub in a bluegill pattern, and  a Gene Larew Lures' smoke-and-silver-flake Swimming Minnow.

On his evening outing, he and Bruce Cochran of Kansas City tangled with 23 largemouth bass, but these bass were considerably smaller than the ones that Platt and Sonnett caught with their antique tackle on their morning outing.

Across the past decade, Frazee has become a devotee to finesse angling for bass, and at the same time, he finds that wielding antiques lures for bass is an intriguing way for the serious recreational bass anglers to develop an appreciation of the history of this great sport.

In Frazee, Platt and Sonnett's eyes, an understanding of how the forefathers of bass fishing, such as Jason Lucas, dealt with the mysterious ways of their quarry will help contemporary anglers become more knowledgeable and perhaps more proficient at pursuing their quarry.

Consequently, Frazee acknowledges that his antique outings with Platt and Sonnett have mysteriously made him a better practitioner of finesse tactics for catching largemouth bass

What's more, Frazee notes that antique and finesse tactics prove that serious recreational anglers don't need to spend tens of thousands of dollars on state-of-the-art equipment to catch their beloved quarry.

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