The last couple of Project E videos have been focused on summertime cranking. The first covered the use of electronics and the second on some fine-tuning regarding presentations. Summertime cranking is one of my favorites ways to catch bass for a couple of reasons.
First of all, I really enjoy targeting fish that don’t get a lot of fishing pressure, and anytime you can find offshore bass, they’re probably seeing fewer lures than those near the shore.
Second, when you find summertime bass offshore, they’re usually grouped up, so you’re not fishing for single fish – like you might find along the bank – you’re looking to load the boat and maybe even catch one every cast for a good long while. That’s a lot of fun!
There are some pretty basic tips that everyone seems to know when it comes to deep cranking, but I want to touch on them very quickly before moving on to some other stuff that usually gets missed.
Those are things that most good bass anglers already know. The stuff I’m about to cover is stuff that many anglers know but few actually put into practice. There’s no shame in that, but it’s costing you fish and productivity on the water. In my fishing, that means money. With your fishing, it may be costing you a lot of fun.
Your electronics are your shortcut to success: Time spent staring at your sonar screen is not wasted. It will prevent you from wasting time casting to spots that are unproductive.
No matter what electronics you use, you probably have equipment that’s good enough to get you on offshore fish. Spend time learning how to use it and then spend lots more time slowly idling around potentially productive areas watching it like a hawk, looking for structure and cover, looking for bait, and – most importantly – looking for bass.
Once you understand your equipment and how to use it, you should never turn off your outboard to make a cast until you know you’re in an area that holds bass. If that means idling around for an hour or three without making a cast, that’s OK. When you finally do stop to pick up a rod, you’ll be throwing to a spot that’s got tremendous potential, not blind casting and hoping for a bite.
Get the bait down there: This is all about No. 5 above, but I want to take it a step further. If your bait is not bumping bottom or bouncing off cover, it’s not going to get bit very often. Choosing a bait that will reach the bottom is critical, but you can also add depth by holding your rod tip under the surface of the water.
Paul Elias won the 1982 Bassmaster Classic by getting down on the deck of his boat and holding his rod tip under water. It’s called “kneeling and reeling,” and it works. A study done in 2000 showed that for every foot you put your rod tip under the surface, you get an extra foot of depth out of your crankbait. With today’s long rods, you could get five to seven extra feet of depth that way…and a lot more bites.
Target the subtle stuff: If a spot looks good on a map or from a hundred yards away, there’s a really good chance that it gets a lot of pressure. Everyone recognizes it as a place with potential. That’s why I target the spots that don’t look so obvious and spend the extra time idling around so I can find areas and fish that other anglers miss.
A classic main lake point is going to get a lot of fishing pressure, and it might hold a lot of fish, but there’s rarely a day that goes by without several boats stopping on it and casting to it. Anglers probably drive over it with their electronics so often that the fish are skittish.
If I can find a place that doesn’t look good until I check it out with my electronics, I’ve probably found a place that doesn’t get any pressure. The fish will be less spooky and more aggressive. I can catch them quicker, using heavier line and power methods, like deep cranking.
Deep cranking for summertime bass isn’t an easy technique to master, but it can wildly productive and incredibly fun. Check out my Project E videos on summer cranking and put these tips to use if you want to improve your hot-weather fishing.