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This week, we’re sharing a lure spotlight with a remarkable freshwater lure, a target really, designed to catch largemouth and more. Lots of us are fishing for bass now as they roll off their beds but also, hungry after their own spawning antics, Northern pike are an amazing predator to target. LIVE TARGET Pumpkinseeds wakebaits may just be the right tool in your tackle box to change a slump into an epic full sun or late night bass, pike, pickerel or walleye adventure.

LIVE TARGET Pumpkinseed

LIVE TARGET 3” Pumpkinseeds glitter with the gold of sunshine but as I’m a firm believer that fancy lure patterns are not always what attracts fish, I believe shape and movement are paramount. We want to avoid presenting a target only to get a neutral-active release when a bass takes it in but then exhales it. In clear water, we need to present realistic colors, shapes and movements to force a strike. LIVE TARGET Pumpkinseeds have pitch perfect wiggles with two sets of treble hooks and when they are a foot deep in stained waters, their real life shape is spot on. That said, their paints are so real and lifelike that you have to run your hands down the sides to see what is paint and what is molded texture.

As water and air temperatures rise, twilight offers some wonderfully cool respites, with just a touch of mist smudging small ponds. This is often when bluegills and pumpkinseeds circle near the surface, feeding, watching for attacks. In those special places where bass are lurking and waiting and watching for signs of a slow, wounded supper, the Pumpkinseed shines. When the bite is tough to figure out, it’s time to go all old school and feed them what they want: an easy meal.

Warm waters should mean epic days

They should always be tied directly without the weight of any hardware. A clinch or non-slip loop knot will hold them tightly while the latter will allow it a little more swagger. I match them with six pound Tuf Line green braid. Tuf Line has a smooth feel from its creation under pressure but when you give it a good rub down between your fingers, you can really feel the strong fibers which make it so reliable. Tuf Line is also my pick because it spends less time wrapped around rod tips. We all remember that perfect moment meant for a perfect cast all spoiled by tired braid enveloping your rod tip, forcing you to regroup and lose an opportunity. I don’t get that with Tuf Line.

As with many natural situations, I like to give the Pumpkinseed a rest every so often. If a largemouth thinks for a moment that a plump dinner they have been stalking might be wounded or exhausted, you are forcing ambush time. That’s where these LIVE TARGET lures really perform. If you are targeting pike, a steel leader will serve you poorly, much like any other piece of terminal tackle, so it’s on you to keep a finger on the line’s pulse for any hint of attack. Pull back hard for sure.

With a light retrieve, it glides just below the surface, perfectly positioned for late afternoons and twilight fishing when panfish feed in schools, leaving a tell-tale wake. Swirling and circling, live fish can be over-focused on eating and lose track of predatory bass. I have watched those small schools move around ponds, along weed edges and spots of Lili pads. This is when a properly cast Pumpkinseed, with that tight wiggle, is a game changer.

Wiggle and waggle will change your game

Even small bass attack big LIVE TARGET Pumpkinseeds

Retrieved a bit more quickly, the Pumpkinseed rides a bit more deeply. Now it’s golds and greens will shine, reflecting sunlight through the security of water to entice a bite. When the race is on, a faster retrieve pushes Pumpkinseeds a foot below the surface, rattling their beads, calling to that lateral line, giving notice, attracting stubborn bass second thinking their attack. Largemouth can kick into high gear, albeit in short bursts, up to 20 miles per hour. Northern pike are close second underwater speedsters, launching themselves from deep cover at speeds up to ten miles per hour, but then there’s that whole mouth full of teeth deal, which is aces high over a bass’ rough mouth surface. Large pike can support  seven hundred teeth up to an inch high with a jaw simply designed to grab and shred fish and birds. All this means your Pumpkinseed flashes and dances just right to draw bass and pike out of any protective lair at high speed.

When largemouth bass, chain pickerel, toothy pike or walleye are hunting, LIVE TARGET Pumpkinseeds, fished just below some mist or in the glare of a high sun warming weeds, just might make your day. Retrieved slowly or quickly, twitched a bit, with a wake or not, they are versatile and proven. Plus, with all that’s happening in our world these days, we could all use an epic adventure.

Bob Buscher with a 5.1# late spring Chain pickerel

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