Fishing forums have been abuzz about the mostly-used-for-ice-fishing bait Gary Parsons and Keith Kavajecz used to deliver a one-two punch finish at the Bays de Noc walleye tournament off Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (U.P.) in early September. This out-of-the-box technique is oft misunderstood, and Gary Parsons sets the record straight for walleye anglers who care to know the real deal.
“People [were] summarizing our technique as casting a Jigging Rap, but it wasn’t,” said Parsons. He and the NextBite fishing team, including son Chase Parsons and brother-in-law Keith Kavajecz, bought $1,800 worth of bait from the gals who run the U.P. bait and tackle store located next to the Gladstone boat launch. The baits were Moonshine Shiver Minnows known traditionally as ice fishing baits. Parsons was looking for something different to try. “We hit on the first cast and it was nonstop after that. I went back and bought everything from the gals I could get my hands on.” The difference to a Jigging Rap is in the action, according to Parsons.
“We’ve all looked at baits that are about the same size and look similar, but it is always about the action, action, action,” Parsons pontificated. “The right action catches fish and not all baits have it.” The Moonshine Shiver Minnow’s action is very different from the Jigging Rap.
“This bait darts up and away, then rolls over as it comes back down,” said Parsons as his hand showed the motion of rolling over. “That was really the key. We tried quite a few variations and we threw some Jigging Raps, too, I’ll admit it. But they weren’t even close to this Moonshine bait in producing hits. Not at all the same.”
Setting the record straight is important for Parsons and Kavajecz. “We’ve spent our whole life helping people learn how to catch fish,” said Kavajecz. “Our reputations are built on that,” added Parsons. Are others as forthright?
“Let’s just say some people are guides on bodies of water and they might not want their best technique on catching fish to get out, and that’s all I’ll say about it,” said Parsons. In some of those cases, Parsons knows it wasn’t the Moonshine Shiver Minnow either, it was a different bait, but it wasn’t Rapala’s Jigging Rap and when others assume it was, they just let the assumption carry on. “We filmed for television and I know what some of the guys were using.”
Faced with choices at retail, it can be a challenge. The Moonshine Shiver Minnows, for example, are regional baits and not sold with the same level of distribution as Rapala baits. “And the Rapalas look a little classier, their packaging and paint are good quality, so people buy them,” said Parsons. “The action is not the same. It just isn’t at all the same.”
“I finally had fun fishing Bay de Noc,” said Kavajecz. “I get so tired of trolling spinners over the humps. This made it a lot more fun. Hard work, but a lot more fun.” No doubt a good time was had by the Kavajecz family when they cashed in on a $63,815 pay day, too.
Parsons agreed. “It has been more than 30 years for me fishing up at Gladstone and Escanaba, and to find a new way to catch big fish, and a lot of them, has been exhilarating.”
Not surprisingly, Parsons and Kavajecz have joined the Moonshine Pro Staff. “Open-water fishermen were using these baits in New York for the last two seasons, but it was hard to get the word out,” said Tom Gudwer, with his wife, Beth, they own and run Moonshine Baits out of Perkins, Michigan. “New York is New York, it was a regional thing in the Finger Lakes area. It didn’t migrate to the west.” Michigan, Wisconsin, and Dakotas anglers used Moonshine baits through the ice. “So when Gary and Keith win something, people start paying attention,” said Gudwer. Sales have picked up with more retail stores carrying the baits.
Clear water is the ticket for this technique, often found in the Great Lakes, as is graphing fish on structure and casting right to them. No-stretch line is essential, as you cast a long ways and often get the hit immediately as it descends. Kavajecz used eight-pound bright-chartreuse Berkley NanoFil. “You don’t want any stretch there at all,” advised Parsons. “And we had to work hard to keep it off the bottom because of the moss.”
Only available through retail stores, you can locate a state-by-state listing of the retail stores at the Moonshine Lures website. With all this great interest, the list will probably be expanding rapidly.
K.J. Houtman is the author of the award-winning Fish On Kids Books series, chapter books for eight- to 12-year-olds with adventures based around fishing, camping, and hunting. Her work is available at Amazon and local bookstores. Find out more at fishonkidsbooks.com.
Image courtesy Keith Kavajecz