Strawberry-flavored plastic worms. Apple-flavored plastic worms. Root beer-flavored plastic worms. These are just a few of the guises in which the modern fisherman's best friend, the artificial lure, is available. Indeed, ersatz annelids have been used by fishermen since the late '40s, but they really came into their own in the late '60s when Tom Mann of Eufaula, Ala. figured out that the strong petroleum scent in the first generation of plastic worms was keeping fish away. So Mann, working in his kitchen, devised a way to overpower that refinery aroma with fruit flavorings. He's now a millionaire, and scented plastic worms are among the most popular freshwater artificial lures available today.
But that could change, and soon. John Hastings, another stove-top experimenter, has come up with something called Chumm'n Minnow. No, it's not a banana-cream goldfish or a Black Forest cherry shiner. It's a soft-plastic, fish-shaped lure made out of Flavorol, a moldable material containing fish "extract"; which leads to an assumption that Hastings was giving his Cuisinart a workout at the same time his Tappan was going full blazes.
Hastings, who began working with the new substance in 1979, reckoned that if there's one thing bass like better than a nice juicy worm—even one wearing raspberry Brut—it's a fishy minnow. And even if Chumm'n Minnow doesn't look altogether natural, what with a silver spinner blade whirring over its head, or swim like a real minnow—unless a minnow has a [1/32]- to-ounce lead ball in its tiny maw—the new lure, which retails at $1.50, at least smells like a real meal. The lure is supposed to retain its distinctive scent indefinitely.
Flash, movement, smell. Chumm'n Minnow has all the virtues of live bait without all the mess. The lure—which comes in three colors: Natural Perch, Golden Shiner and Silver Shiner—eliminates the problem of skewering a little minnow on a hook. Rigging live bait is a procedure that has about the same success rate as Dave Kingman's hitting. It often results in a lot of loose fish parts sliming up the floor of the boat. In a few hours, the sun leaves an indelible stinking residue—nature's own Flavorol, as it were—on the decks. Attractive as such essence might be to game fish, it's a bit too gamy for the wife and kiddies to appreciate. And they'll be happy to let you know that fact at top volume anytime they're within inhaling distance of you and your boat.
You can just pop Chumm'n Minnow out of its little blister pack, tie it on the line and brace yourself for a strike. Even if the bass in your neighborhood end up finding Flavorol fish about as alluring as a high school locker room during football season, the Chumm'n Minnow still deserves recognition as a real advance in convenience foods.