By LOUIE STOUT
THE GOSHEN NEWS
If you want to market new lures, you better prove that they catch fish if you expect them to sell.
Well, Curtiss Werner of Osceola is doing just that.
The co-founder of Money Mouth Baits used his lures exclusively to win the Indiana Bass Federation’s Top 8 Tournament on Lake Wawasee last weekend.
The Top 8 is a fish-off that leads to The Bass Federation National Championship for bass club members.
The Wawasee event attracted the Top 8 anglers from 11 northern Indiana clubs who were fishing for rights to advance to the state championship.
Werner, representing the St. Joe Valley Bassmasters, caught 22.90 pounds that included big bass (4.66 pounds) the first day of the two-day event.
Chris Howe (Mishawaka) of the Potato Creek club was second overall with 19.66 pounds.
He had the second day big bass, a 5.46 pounder and won $500.
In the team division, Potato Creek won ($600) with 79.69 pounds while the Grant County Bass Anglers were second, Syracuse Bassmasters third, St. Joe Valley Bassmasters fourth and Fish Lake Bassmasters were fifth.
Werner won $650, but more importantly, he gave credibility to his lure lineup.
He caught most of his fish on a ¼-ounce yet-to-be-named prototype buzzbait and the others on a “Fishbones” stickworm he fished weightless in the channels. He said the lightweight buzzbait makes a subtle ruckus and moves slowly, which appealed to the pre-spawn bass. The Fishbones was tossed around areas where some bass were bedding.
“I had a guy buy the buzzbaits right off the ends of my rods when the tournament was over,” said Werner.
“He didn’t want to wait for me to ship him some.” Money Mouth Baits’ idea was hatched when Werner was laid off from AM General last December. He partnered with friend Blane Pickabet of Mishawaka and their Money Mouth offerings are starting to gain popularity.
The lineup primarily consists of soft plastics, such as the 3- and 4-inch Money Bug creature bait that has become a favorite of St. Joseph River anglers.
The 5-inch Fishbone stickworm is gaining popularity, too, especially since its retail price beats that of nationally known lookalikes and more are packaged per bag. They also have tube and swimbaits.
“We’re trying to give the angler his money’s worth and still provide baits that catch fish,” said Werner.
Werner said he’s working on some new shapes and designs that he hopes will be available later this year. You can find Money Mouth Baits locally at Parker’s Central Park Bait in Mishawaka or ClearH20 Tackle in Edwardsburg, or visit www.moneymouthbaits.com.
Another free day
For Hoosiers who have never cast a fishing line or haven’t cast one lately, you’ll get a great opportunity next Saturday as Indiana hosts another free fishing day.
Indiana’s adult residents do not need a fishing license or a trout/salmon stamp to fish Indiana public waters that day.
All other regulations apply and non-residents are required to have a license.
Sportsmen win battle
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed into law Senate Bills 288 and 289 that gives the Natural Resources Commission authority to designate fish and game species and establishes the right to hunt and fish as a Michigan statute. The bill also provides free licenses to active duty members of the military.
The bills were necessary to thwart attacks on sportsmen’s rights by non-resident anti-hunting groups who spend thousands of dollars in Michigan trying to block legislative sportsmen matters.
Steven Szymczak and Jordan Felten (Osceola) won the Michiana Walleye Association Wayland Marine Walleye Challenge last weekend on the St. Joseph River at Maggies Landing.
The winners ($375) had 8.87 pounds they caught by trolling Berkley Flicker Shads along sharp breaks.
Rick and Jeremy Nichols (South Bend) were second ($188) with 7.04 pounds caught on 3/8-ounce firetiger-colored jigs and pink/chartreuse floaters rigged with crawlers. They were slow trolling upstream in 8 to 12 feet of water.
Ed Szymczak (Osceola) and Dallas Dunn (Indianapolis) were third ($113) with 6.76 pounds caught on Salmo F4 crankbaits (perch and firetiger) while working shallow water close to deep water. The ClearH2O Tackle Big Fish prize ($285) went to Randy Hamilton (Granger) and Dean Cates (Jimtown) with a 3.50-pound walleye.
Teddy Bradley and Tom Bell (Mishawaka) caught a limit weighing 13.73 pounds to win the Slammin’ Sundays Tournament on Dewart Lake recently.
They caught their fish on red Rat’l Traps and Erie darters rigged on 1/8-ounce D’s grub heads. Second place went to Andy Buss (North Liberty) and Steve Prange (Mishawaka) with 12.72 pounds that included big bass at 3.69. All of their fish came on jigs.
The next event is May 19 on Lake Manitou. Visit www.riverwednesdays.com for more info.
Ron Fabiszak (South Bend) and Kevin Fletcher (Elkhart) won the River Wednesday Circuit season opener with two bass over 15 inches and three under 12 for 7.58 pounds. The winners caught their fish on Senkos and Centipedes.
Curtiss Werner (Mishawaka) and Mark Fennell (LaGrange, Ind.) were second with 7.17 pounds and also had big bass (2.8 pounds), caught on Money Mouth Baits rigged on D’s jigheads.