Ann Thomasson Wilson knows a good artificial lure when she sees one.
Or, more accurately, the former professional angler knows a good artificial lure when she doesn’t see one — as when they’re flying off the shelves at Ann’s Tackle Shop in Jasper, Texas, seven miles from Lake Sam Rayburn.
The 77-year-old Wilson has been enthralled by the little bitty soft plastic that she has stocked since her long-time friend first put them on the market in May.
“He has designed and made some fine lures over the years. He hit a home run with this one,” Wilson said.
The two-time Woman’s World Bass Champion was talking about Lonnie Stanley’s new Ribbit Runt — a pint-sized version of the Stanley Ribbit.
The 1.71-inch-long soft-plastic frog look-a-like was designed for panfish — crappie in particular — but has been taking other gamefish like bass consistently at Lake Sam Rayburn, Toledo Bend and Lake Danby, as well as ponds, sloughs creeks and rivers in Texas and Louisiana.
And there’s a small river in Southwest Mississippi where the Kentucky bass were socked by an angler fishing with ultra-light rig and using watermelon/red/chartreuse, black/red/chartreuse/gold and electric chicken Ribbit Runts.
“They’ve been going really well. We’ve already reordered a couple or three times,” Wilson said, noting she keeps 50 boxes of each of the 10 colors in stock as backup.
The angler said crappie fishermen quickly cottoned to the tiny bogus frog they slide onto 1/32- to 1/8-ounce leadheads or mini-spinnerbaits.
“These look like a little frog,” Wilson said. “It has really, really good action. You can put it on a cane pole with a jighead and doodlesock it around bushes and limbs, or you can put it on a spinning rig and fish it around grass.”
Wilson said the hottest color has been watermelon/red with chartreuse feet.
The man behind the Ribbit Runt is Stanley, who appreciates the uproar such a small artificial lure has created. He has handed them out to anglers he meets in places like the Academy Sports in Lufkin, Texas, where he told one pleased angler he recently caught crappie up to 2 ½ pounds on the Ribbit Runt fished 16 feet deep over sunken brush tops at Lake Sam Rayburn.
“It’s exactly like the original Ribbit — the same head, the same legs,” Stanley said. “All I did was take it down (shrink it).
“The biggest crappie in the brush pile bite that frog. It ain’t known to catch the most, just the biggest ones, at Lake Sam Rayburn.
Stanley said it catches numbers and size in Louisiana, where he lives.
“I really am proud of it in the first year out with it. We didn’t get it out until late spring,” he said. “It’s a fun little ol’ bait. It’s the best thing that ever happened to a paw-paw or daddy trying to teach a kid how to fish.”
By that, he meant children love to cast and reel, as opposed to casting and letting a natural or artificial sit still in the water.
“It’s a great bait for kids and old people,” Stanley said with a chuckle. “It’s the craziest little bait in the world; it’s a catch-anything bait.
“Really, you never know what’s going to bite that thing.”
It’s appeal to fish, he believes, comes from its similarity to a spring frog, which are about 1 ½ inches long, he said.
“Them little frogs are everywhere,” he said.
His grandson, 4-year-old Will Matteson, has caught 2- to 4-inch-long bluegill, small crappie out of a pond and “every now and then a 5- or 6-pound bass out of the pond,” Stanley said.
Granddaughter Sarah Renee Minshew has had similar catches, he said.
“Maw-maw loves to fish with Will at the pond every day,” Stanley said about his wife Patsy, who’s also a close friend of Wilson’s.
For more information on Ribbit Runts and other Fish Stanley products, go to www.fishstanley.com or call 936-876-5713.