March 28, 2020
Largemouths like an occasional hot meal, too.
To tell the truth, I have never seen a bass eat a rat or a mouse.
I saw one try to catch a redwinged blackbird walking on the lily pads once on the St. Johns, and I caught a couple that burped up fairly sizeable water snakes over the years from the grove lakes around Clermont, but no rats, no mice.
Be that as it may, I have little doubt that if Fievel decided to take a swim across Lake Kissimmee along about dusk, he would have poor odds of making the other side. I'd guess bass feel about furry critters like sharks feel about humans—they don't go hunting them, but hey, if one wants to make themselves available, a taste test is in order.
I saw a bass in the Gourd Neck Spring of Lake Apopka grab a baby turtle once. The fish was maybe a 3-pounder, the turtle about 3 inches across. The bass gulped once, twice, three times—and shot the turtle back out. It was a bit too broad to go down the hatch, apparently, or maybe he just didn't like that shell. The turtle swam off none the worse for the wear.
This came to mind because, every year at ICAST, the international fishing tackle trade show, there are a few more mice, rats, birds—and turtles—among the many baitfish, crawfish and frog lures engineered to fool bass—or bass anglers. Actually, mice lures have been around forever—my Uncle Bob back in Ohio was fishing one in the 1950's, though I don't think he ever caught anything on it.
I once got a photo from a reader who had caught a bass of maybe 8 pounds or so, I think from Toho, which had some yellow feet sticking out of its throat. He got hold of the feet and pulled, and out of the fish came a full grown gallinule.
Wiki tells me that these typically weigh under a half-pound, though they look like they'd weigh more due to the feathers. It was a big mouthful, in any case. The fish survived and was released, according to the reader—but the gallinule did not.
Anyway, those of us who are somewhat duffers in fishing are always looking for that secret lure, and thus my tackle box is a sort of Noah's Ark of creatures that a bass just might eat sometime. (I note that really good bass anglers never use this stuff—jigs, crankbaits, worms and the like make up 90 percent of their tackle.)
I've not actually tried the giant SPRO BBZ-1 Rat that won a Best of Show in category at ICAST, mostly because that lure costs $30. I'm not throwing 30 bucks out there where the alligators live—bass may or may not eat a 10-inch long rodent, but I know for sure that every gator over two feet long would go crazy to get hold of that thing.
On the other hand, I wouldn't be above sneaking one down to the Little Manatee River after the first cold front or two and working it around some docks I know where BIG snook like to hang out. A 20-pounder slamming that thing would definitely require a change of laundry on my part.
Live Target makes a smaller mouse lure, with models between 2.25 and 3.5 inches long, and these look a little more right-sized for the bass I usually catch. They are actually pretty much a take-off on the weedless frog, with dual hooks riding upright, and worked through lily pads and reeds they would fool the fish whether they thought it was a frog, a mouse or just a weird-looking bluegill. Ditto for the Strike-King King Rat and the Bass Pro Shops XPS Mouse, as well as the one from Snagproof.
My favorite name for a critter bait is the Flippin the Bird lure, a double-hook, double entendre frog-type bait with silicone strand wings and tail, available in redwing blackbird pattern among others. Blackbirds like to walk around on lily pads—I can see it working, possibly. There is no gallinule lure available at this writing, so far as I can tell. FS