“There are 40,000 lures in our Bass Pro Shop and if I had to choose just one it would be the Rapala Husky Jerk Bait 14,” said Jerry Sauter, holder of four Maryland State record fish and a career consultant to anglers at the Arundel Mills Bass Pro Shop.  “Just throw it out and crank it in,” advises Sauter.  “The lure runs about three feet below the surface and replicates a gizzard shad, the best bass bait in the world.”

Rapala makes a wide variety of effective baits.

The best kept secret in Maryland fishing is the Baltimore Harbor according to Sauter who explained exactly where to fish for huge striped bass, known locally as rockfish.  “There are seven hot water discharges in the harbor and the easiest to find is by the Harbor hospital, right in front of Raven’s stadium, Sauter says.  “Maryland burns the trash for the state right there and if you see smoke coming from the stack, then hot water is flowing into the harbor.  I caught a 68-pound striper there just off Hanover Street.”

The Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers were invited for special product demonstration and Sauter held nothing back.  “Sixty-eight percent of what a bass eats is a crayfish,” Sauter said.  “I’m a certified bait dealer and have 2,000 in my basement, yet you don’t need a real crayfish to catch bass.”   Sauter suggested buying plastic crayfish and using the drop-shot tactic for bass.  Use a #10 hook and a small split shot, open the bail and let the line flow.  When you feel a fish pick it up, set the hook.  “I’ve caught bunches of smallmouth bass over seven pounds using this technique.”

Jerry Sauter holds four Maryland State Record fish.

Like most professionals in the fishing industry, Sauter recommends “taking a child fishing.”  If finding worms is a problem, he recommends the small Gulp wrigglers.  “You don’t need a whole worm, even though they are small.  Just put a piece of worm on a small hook and you’ll catch fish,” he advises.  “It’s easy and fun for kids.”

Finally, Sauter wanted our group to know how popular catfishing has become.  “It’s the fastest growing section of our fishing categories and we used to have a 120-pound cat in our store tank.  Unfortunately, that big fish is no more, but was replaced with a 68-pound flathead, large enough to generate excitement.

This lure is most effective in “monkey butt” color.

Sauter spoke to a recent 127 fish caught in a local reservoir, a new state record, and an even larger 147-pound catfish a month later.  “We sell a special chicken-liver hook which helps to hold this favored fish bait, yet I suggest that you prepare your baits in advance for the best results.”  Here’s the plan:

  1. Bait chicken livers on this special hook the day before you fish.
  2. Put them in the freezer overnight.
  3. Remove and store in a beer cooler or other insulator
  4. Fish the bait on a slip sinker with enough weight to keep it tight to the bottom.

Special thanks to Store Manager David Farmer for Jerry’s time and expertise.  You can speak to Jerry Sauter in person at the Arundel Mills store or check the web at www.basspro.com