By now, wherever you are in the country, it is officially HOT. Just because it’s borderline miserable outside doesn’t mean that we’re not going to fish! Just because the water temperature is in the 80s and even 90s doesn’t mean that the fish aren’t going to bite! While over the years anglers and companies have continued to develop new ways to locate and catch fish, there are still two baits that remain staples among summertime fishing.
With the advent of modern electronics, it has become the norm to locate fish offshore on ledges, brush, and other structures that once were nearly impossible to find. But, even then, anglers would fish more obvious main lake and secondary points, creek channel swings, and even use what flashers and units they had to locate offshore hot spots where they would then triangulate the location and take notes to remember. Through the course of these 30 – 40 years, the crankbait has been at the epicenter of locating and catching these "summertime bass".
The beauty of a crankbait is its ability to cover water fast and efficiently. The size of its lip determines its diving range, which is helpful in determining which one to use under certain circumstances. Usually, most strikes are triggered when the crankbait is plowed across the bottom, ricocheting off the structure and any cover that might be present. With this in mind, I like to choose a crankbait with a running depth slightly deeper than the water I am fishing. For example, if it’s a ledge that tops out in 12’ of water, I’ll typically throw something like a Strike King 5XD that will run around 15’. If I’m targeting that 15-20’ depth range, I’m going to opt for a plug that runs 20’ or deeper.
Like with any bait, there are a plethora of colors to choose from. I like to keep things simple. For super clear water, I want a natural baitfish color; for clear to stained water, I want to blend that natural with just a hint of chartreuse, like a Chartreuse Sexy Shad; and for stained to muddy conditions a chartreuse blue black or chartreuse blue back usually gets the nod. These aren’t hard and fast rules, and sometimes the brighter baits work well in clear water, but this is a good starting point for anyone.
For my rod and reel set up, I like a lower gear ratio reel (Bruin ELS 5.3:1) paired with a rod with a lot of bend (Halo Crankin Series 7’4” or 7’10”). The low gear ratio allows you to work the crankbait at a good speed with creating a lot of torque that tends to wear you out over the course of a long day. Having a softer action on the rod allows two things; 1) it loads up well on the cast allowing you to launch the bait further, keeping it in the strike zone longer 2) it has some give for whenever the fish is trying to throw the treble hooks. I opt for 10-12 lb fluorocarbon line on all of my deep cranking setups.
A big, plastic worm has been a part of bass fishing for as long as bass fishing has been around. From Florida to California, a big worm catches fish and it really begins to shine during the hottest months of the year. Many big fish have become more lethargic and want to spend their energy on a bigger, more nutrient-rich meal that it doesn’t take much energy to chase down. A big, ribbontail worm can clean up a lot of the areas where the more active fish have already been picked off or can catch some fish in areas where the fish aren’t biting anything else at all.
On reservoirs where the offshore bite tends to be key, I will rig a Green Pumpkin or Plum Apple worm on a 5/0 Extra Wide Gap hook with an unpegged 3/8 oz to 3/4 oz tungsten weight. If it’s a body of water where grass is more of a factor, I will swap that EWG hook for a 5/0 straight shank flippin’ hook and I will also peg the tungsten weight. In either case, the key to getting the most out of the worm is to fish it slow. Sure, you can catch some fish hopping it off the bottom or swimming it, but the biggest fish in an area seem to prefer it on the bottom and nudged along as slowly as you can move it, or slower.
My equipment when fishing a big worm starts with a heavy action rod. If offshore, you’re going to have to drive that hook into the fish with a lot of line between the two of you, so a long, heavy action rod is ideal for making that happen. If you’re around grass, that just adds even more to the equation. I prefer a 7’6” to 8’ rod. As far as the reel goes, you’re typically moving the bait with your rod tip and having to catch up with the fish after the hookset, so a Bruin 7.3:1 or even an 8.1:1 helps tremendously with landing the fish.
Yes, it’s hot, but that doesn’t mean that the fishing can’t be hot as well! You can turn a miserable day into one you’ll never forget QUICKLY with these tips! Try them out and be sure to send us your catch to be featured on the Sportsman’s Outfitters and Bruin Outdoors Facebook page!
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