REEDSVILLE, W.Va. — Matt Born could be described as a “tinker.” He likes to take things apart and see what makes them tick. He also thinks this enables him to make some things better. Most of the objects of his tinkering are fishing lures.
“I thought it would be pretty cool if I could make a lure and catch my own fish. That would make it a little more special,” Born said in a recent interview on West Virginia Outdoors.
Originally he would adjust and changed lures he bought off the shelf, but it has evolved into buying raw components and assembling them and adding his own twists and turns. He’ll even occasionally make his own components.
“I got into fly tying and thought if I mixed some of this with some of that, it went totally chaos after that,” he laughed.
Chaos aside, he apparently has found the right combination. During a fall evening back in October, Born had been tinkering with an in-line spinner. He decided to take it to Upper Decker’s lake, a small impoundment near his Preston County home, to see how it would run and if it would need any adjustments. After a cast or two, it became clear it needed no adjustments.
“I goofed around with it and tweaked it a time or two. After five or six casts everything looked good I figured I’d give it a longer cast and see if I could catch a fish,” he explained. “I worked it between a couple of lillypads in the water and it came up and inhaled it.”
What inhaled it was the longest chain pickerel ever caught in West Virginia. The toothy beast weighed four pounds, but it stretched the tape measure to 27.87 inches and bested the old record of 27.75 caught by Steve Dema at Tuckahoe Lake in 2001.
“When it started peeling drag off that Mitchell at a high rate of speed, I knew it was pretty big. We’ve come close before on breaking the record for chain pickerel. My older brother has almost beat it twice, so I knew it was a trophy sized fish, but until I got it on the bank I had no idea it was that big,” he said.
Born can now make the claim his homemade spinner caught a state record. Whether he’s willing to share the combination with anyone is still up in the air.
“For that lure, I bought the parts and hand assembled it myself. It’s just a basic in-line spinner with a little bit bigger blade.” he said. “I try to make them different from everybody else. I do different things like a different set up on the weight and different flash points. This one was an unfinished one too and I intended to add a finish later on that night.”
Born is confident the adjustments and slight tweaks he makes to the lures make all of the difference when it comes to catching a record fish, or just getting more bites on any fishing outing.
“Everybody’s got a lure from every store and fish have seen those a gazillion times, but if you make something different from everybody else, you just might catch fish on it,” said Born.