Let’s face it. The long hot summer is in full swing and we aren’t going to catch many bass in the shallows. Sure they may cruise the flats a little early and late but the bulk of the fish are finding their meals in deeper water whether it be in a reservoir or pond. You can still catch them but you’ve got to change tactics and crank baits are one of the best bets for this time of year.
There are literally hundreds of crank baits on the market but they kind of boil down to a few categories and each one has something to offer. There are baits with a wide wobble and others with a tight wobble. Some are floaters and others are baits that suspend. There are plugs that imitate shad and other bait fish, those that imitate the sunfish family and others that are designed to look like crawfish. Inside these categories there are all kinds of colors and size ranges and you just need to experiment to see what works for you in the waters you fish.
According to the guys who do this for a living there are a few general rules of thumb to consider when choosing which one to use. Wide wobble baits are best when water temperatures are above sixty degrees and are also the best when fishing around wood structure. When selecting a color consider the type of forage the bass have available to them (shad, sunfish, crayfish) and make your choice based on that factor.
Another item for consideration is how deep the water is you are fishing and how deep your crank bait will run. Most lures come in packaging with that information but know that the advertised running depth is usually the maximum. How deep your crank bait will actually dive depends on a how far you cast the lure and the line size on your reel. To achieve the maximum you have to make long casts and use light line. To give you an idea the conversion table is to add or subtract about a foot and a half for each line size up or down. For example on ten pound test a lure may dive to twelve feet but if you move up to twelve pound test it will only dive ten and half feet.
One of the most important factors of successful crank bait fishing is to find places where the lure will bump off of logs, stumps, rocks and kick up silt from the bottom. Nearly all the fish caught with crank baits are caught because the lure is moving erratically and changing directions. If you can’t get it to bounce over or around anything the next best idea is to change speeds or jerking the bait during the retrieve. Because you have to fish over and around cover your line will often get nicked or frayed. Don’t neglect to retie when you notice a bad spot because it could cause you to lose a fish that you’ve worked hard to catch.
At this point you might be thinking about losing those expensive plugs when you are constantly pulling it through the types of cover I’ve described. That is a legitimate concern given the fact the many of the top shelf deep divers can run upwards of ten or fifteen dollars. One of the best investments you can make is to buy a crank bait retriever. There are several different types on the market and you will save a lot of money if you put a few of these in your tackle box.
Believe me an all day cranking excursion can be extremely tiring. For that reason let’s take a look at the type of reels and rods to use. Whether you are a fan of bait casting or spinning outfits it’s important to have something you can make extremely long casts with using minimum effort. A reel with a 5.1 to 1 retrieve ratio is ideal. You also need to make sure you have a reel that has a large line capacity for easier casting. A seven foot rod with a medium to medium heavy rating is better than a six and a half rod for long casts but use the longer one only if you can handle it all day pumping that bait back and forth. Ultimately you have to use what you can tolerate. The trick I use is to have a bait casting reel and a spinning outfit rigged out so that I can change from time to time. The difference in how the two operate helps keep my hands and wrists from wearing down so quickly.
Places to look for when bass are on this mid-summer pattern are tapered points (especially rocky points) on the main lake, humps that are in close proximity to cover and deeper water, roadbeds, and creek channels are all good choices. If there is forage in the area you’ve located a prime spot and once found the key is to fish it thoroughly and from different angles.
Fishing crank baits in the summer is a proven method for success. The weather is going to be hot and it makes for a day of hard work but the results are worth every bit of the trouble. Take plenty to drink and keep on cranking them in.
Alvin Richardson is a contributing writer, retired educator, and public speaker. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org