One good hard bait deserves another, and that is what Chas Champagne of Slidell has done with the introduction this month of the Matrix Minnow.
The lure already has proved to be a terror to speckled trout, among other saltwater species.
The maker of the highly popular soft-plastic Matrix Shad, Vortex Shad and Matrix Mini is adding the 3½-inch-long suspending lure to the Dockside Bait & Tackle line.
The Matrix Minnow was scheduled to be available Jan. 1, Champagne said in early November.
It is the company’s second hard bait since he started marketing the Matrix Mullet last summer.
“That’s been out since June,” Champagne said of the Matrix Mullet. “We’ve got a lot of good feedback on that lure.”
The 34-year-old Champagne came up with the idea for a subsurface model about two months later and began designing a suspending artificial lure. By October, he was busting speckled trout’s chops regularly.
“We have flat-out wore out the trout in October. It’s a banner speckled trout season,” he said.
“I can’t wait for them to come out,” angler Nick Randazzo said in mid-November after a morning fishing trip with his father, Tony Randazzo.
Champagne’s fishin’ buddy and good friend for nearly 20 years has been hanging on for dear life to a few prototypes that have caught a lot of specks, as well as flounder and redfish — including a 38-inch-long bull caught in October.
“I’ve got a couple prototypes and, like I told the guys who tie one on their rod when they’re with me, they have to take it off before they leave,” Randazzo said. “Man, it’s an awesome bait. It’s fun, man.”
It is most effective in slack water in dead-end canals and along shorelines, Randazzo said.
“They’ve been tearing it up — sometimes every cast,” he said. “We’ve been limiting out and coming back in.”
Randazzo believes the new suspending artificial lure mirrors what trout are feeding on. Most of the time, that’s glass minnows.
“There’s glass minnows out there by the thousands now. They’re feeding on glass minnows heavy, so the little bait he’s got is phenomenal,” he said.
That’s exactly what Champagne envisioned when he designed the Matrix Minnow. He purposefully made it small so it would catch speckled trout (as well as bass) ranging from school-sized to 4 pounds.
A larger model specifically for heavier speckled trout could be in the offing.
The Matrix Minnow also fills a niche. While the company’s soft plastics are popular from Corpus Christie, Texas, to Orlando, Fla., many of the anglers who use them also are adept at working suspending artificial lures underwater in a walk-the-dog pattern.
“We really throw a lot of suspending baits like this October to February, if it doesn’t get too cold,” Champagne said.
He has found the Matrix Minnow most effective in dead-end canals, particularly those with clear water, and grassy shorelines. He always has one tied on whenever the water temperature ranges from 58 degrees to 72 degrees.
“It’s super effective fall and winter,” Champagne said. “After the topwater bite, you can keep them going with the suspending bait — not all the time, but a lot of the time.”
Basically, use a walk-the-dog pattern underwater and try to pause it at least three times during the retrieve, he explained.
The Matrix Minnow will be available in five color combinations. It is armed with two black nickel treble hooks.
Champagne recommends using a 6- to 6 ½-foot-long medium-light rod on 8- to 14-pound monofilament, fluorocarbon or braided line, noting he’s partial to fluorocarbon line in very clear water.
He plans to have the lure March 16-17 at the Louisiana Sportsman Show & Festival at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales.
Matrix Minnows also can be purchased from local dealers and at MatrixShad.com. For more information on Dockside Bait & Tackle products call 985-707-2105.