Fall Topwater Bass Fishing “The Zara Spook”

It seems only appropriate that one of the best lures to use during the Halloween month of October is the Zara Spook.  So let’s start with the “spooky” story.  

Once upon a time, in the late 1890’s, over a hundred and thirty years ago, lived a fellow named John Heddon from Dogwagiac, Michigan.  John started carving fishing lures from wooden broomstick handles.  In 1902, he was confident enough to market his first wooden, “surface” bait, named the “Dogwagiac Expert”.  He expanded from there, opening James Heddon & Son Lures becoming one of the first manufacturers of artificial lures. 

Later, in 1917 a man named Walter Biggs opened a tackle store in Pensacola Florida.  His store attracted a motley crew of patrons.  One character was Angelo Capaduca.  Angelo was an avid angler.  He was well known around the tackle store for his hand whittled wooden lures called “minnows”. He often gave them away to fellow fishermen at Bigg’s store.  One of the “minnows” ended up in the tackle box of a Greek gentleman that frequented the store.  After experiencing an outstanding fishing day using the lure, he likened it to the girls in the nearby red light district.  “It do the hoochie coochie like the girls on Zaragosa Street.” Quickly, the lure earned the name “The Zaragosa Minnow”. 

Fast forward yet again, to the Great Depression. It was during this time that James Heddon & Son had a salesman that heard about the Zaragosa Minnow.  He visited Bigg’s store and returned to Heddon with lure in hand.  Heddon paid the original inventor for his design and quickly went to work perfecting it.  Around 1950, John had moved onto building plastic lures that mimicked the wooden ones. They were called “spooks” because they were transparent, like a ghost. As a result, from the Zaragosa Minnow, was born the Zaragosa Spook, known today, as the Zara Spook. 

More than a century later this bait is a staple in the arsenal of most fishermen.  During the cooler October days, this bait is scary good.  If you don’t own a Zara Spook, you should be afraid to leave your house.  (See what I did there). 

The “spook” can be rigged on a 6 ½ to  7′ rod.  Ideally one with a shorter handle for lure management. 50lb braided  line pairs well with a Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier high speed reel.  A favorite Spook retrieval technique among anglers is called “walk the dog”.  After the lure is cast, lower your rod tip and simply twitch your rod tip while reeling in line.  (This is where the shorter handle plays it’s part).  Experiment with different “cadences” until you get a bite.  You can also increase the action of the bait by adding an “O” ring. When Bass blow up at the bait, give the fish a few seconds to get a good grip on the bait before you set the hook.  Often if you set the hook too fast, you’ll pull the bait away before the fish has a good bite.  

In the South, fall fishing can be fast and furious.  Bass can be found moving from the deep to the shallows to find warmth and back again.  It’s up to you to intercept them on their journey.  You can find them hanging along deep points close to shallow water.  Even better if you find a stumpfield.  Bass will be hiding, waiting themselves, to intercept whatever swims above their head.  

The explosion of top water fishing is one of the most thrilling experiences an angler can have. Now don’t be a scaredy cat.  Go get your own Zara Spook and go catch a fish!

See you on the water,
Michelle Armstrong

One Response

  1. Mike Cork October 20, 2020

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