BIRMINGHAM, Ala.— A simple fishing lure some may consider outdated and uncool amid today's high-dollar crankbaits and spinnerbaits has been Chris Novack's go-to bait for years.
This weekend in the Bassmaster Classic on Lay Lake, the 43-year old corrections officer from Willington, Conn., will find out if it holds the magic for him one more time.
Novack for several years, along with his tournament partner at home, has used a grub as his not-so-secret weapon. There's nothing fancy about a grub. It doesn't have lifelike scales or shiny blades or the trappings of a $15 lure.
But it catches fish. Hopped on the bottom, cast along bluffs, drifted in current or retrieved with a steady swimming motion, Novack's little grub helped put him in the Classic.
"I feel very comfortable with what I'm throwing," he said, describing his confidence in the grub. "I will use (it) anywhere on any lake in the country and do well. My buddy and I take three or four bags of these baits and use them against anyone ... it's a good limit bait. I'll use that to get my limit and then use something else for bigger fish."
With all the high-dollar gear available, why the grub?
"It's a great fish-imitator, it's the same size as the shad I've found in the lake (this week) and it's the same color ... so I'll give them what they've got," he explained. "I've used it in every tournament I've been in and caught fish."
Novack got his start in the Sub Base Bassmasters about 15 years ago, his first BASS Federation Nation club, and since then has been in several others including the Mansfield Hollow Bassmasters and Connecticut Outdoors Bassmasters. He qualified for the Classic as the Eastern Division leader in the Federation championship last month on Neely Henry Lake.
"The Federation Nation is where everyone should get their start to learn their home waters and to get going," he said.
Last year, Novack said he tried a few new things to help refine and improve his fishing. He is, he said, by nature determined, level-headed and driven to achieve.
But he needed something more and after talking with friends and studying other anglers, figured it was a sense of calmness on the water that could further help him be successful.
"Every year is a learning experience and I've met and talked with a few people, and watched how people react to different situations," Novack said. "If something doesn't go their way they throw their rods down. That doesn't help you. I've been working on staying calm and letting things go their way, just letting things happen. If it happens, it happens, and I remain calm to keep a good outlook on fishing instead of worrying about something that gets you upset."
Novack fishes primarily on the Connecticut River, along with Lake Champlain and several of the Great Lakes including Ontario and Erie.
"Those two are fabulous," he said. "But really, anywhere there is a fish is where I love to fish.