By Ron Anlauf
By midsummer the bass action can really heat up and productive patterns start to emerge that can be easily taken advantage of. Quite often one of the hottest patterns going is working the deep growing weeds with the right crank bait. Wherever you find healthy grass weeds you’ll probably find bass. The greenery can hold plenty of preferred forage all season long, and is the main reason bass can be found hanging out in and around all of that vegetation. The challenge is to putting together a presentation that is appealing enough to get their attention, and is where the right crankbait in the right place can really produce.
Bass have a natural attraction to crankbaits which imitate available forage like minnows, shad, bluegills, and crayfish. A crank bait worked across the top of a weed bed is more likely to mimic baitfish while a crank banging into the bottom might be more apt to represent a crayfish. The idea is to duplicate what they’re already consuming and try to make them think they’re doing the right thing by inhaling your bait. Whatever the case; crank baits do work and do so extremely well, especially during the heat of summer.
When water temperatures heat up bass become more and more active as their metabolism is cranked up on high. Their prey is moving faster as well, which is also affected by a warmer environment. If it’s a fast moving world they’re living in then it only makes sense to at least try and give them something that appeals
to their present condition.
Even with that there are certain times when cranks are more likely to produce, and aren’t always the final answer. Tough times (like after the passing of a front) might call for something else and could include working a jig worm, or maybe a drop shot rig, and doing it ever so slowly. Steady weather conditions and warming trends are another story, and is when you can load the boat with the right crank bait.
Finding the right crankbait is a process of trial and error and it may take some extra casts in more than one area to figure out. According to professional guide and top tournament fisherman John Janousek of Nisswa, Minnesota (320-630-3145): “One of the keys to successful crankin’ is using baits that you already have confidence in, that you know will get popped if buzzed through the right neighborhood. Building confidence takes a little time, but you can shorten it up if you start out with proven producers like the Rapala DT series, Rattlin’ Rapala, or the time tested Fat Rap. Even new baits like the DT Metal SureSet series can be counted on to do the job because they are tested extensively before ever hitting the bait store shelves.”
What you chose will depend primarily on the grass and weeds your working and just how deep it grows, and how close to the surface it rises. Weeds that extend all the way to the surface may force you to stick with the shallow and deep edges. If there’s a couple of open feet or more of water over the top of a bed you have a chance to run the shallowest running baits like a Rattlin’ Rapala, or a Fat Rap with a shallow running
lip. The Rattlin’ Rapala will run shallow as long as you start a fast retrieve as soon as the bait hit’s the water. The Fat Rap on the other hand is a floater and can be worked much slower, but quite often it’s a burning retrieve that trips their trigger. The trick is using a bait that runs just deep enough to occasionally catch the top of the weeds without constantly digging in and becoming fowled. The DT6 can be cranked over the tops of deeper growing weeds and because if it’s unique design the bait will actually roll over when the lip hangs up, keeping the hooks up and out of the weeds.
Both baits can be worked on the inside edge of a weed bed as well, and will depend on how shallow it is and whether or not it’s clean enough to get a bait through. Parallel casts keep your lure in the “zone” longer and is an efficient method for locating fish. With an electric trolling motor you can buzz along at a good clip and cover a lot of ground helping you to either find fish or eliminate water.
Weeds that top out a little deeper can be worked with baits that are designed to dive to a specific depth like the DT Series which has variations that can run at four, six, ten, and sixteen feet. The deeper running baits are good bets for working the deep edge, especially the base. Parallel casts are again preferred but you may have stay off the edge and cast into the flat and work it back out, especially if the fish are schooled up
and holding high in the weed bed. Summer bass will typically school up and if you find one chances are there’s more in the area and it may pay off to work a bait through the same area over and over again.
One of the keys to successful cranking is sticking with it and not giving up, and it can pay to be persistent. Many times it’s not the first cast, or the second, or even the third that gets bit, but maybe the tenth or even the twentieth, all through the exact same area. Maybe it takes that long to get their attention, or to get into position, or maybe they just get mad, whatever the case multiple casts to the same spot can result in more fish hooked.
Whether you’re working shallow or deep, keep your rod tip down on the retrieve and set the hook on anything that feels different. When a bass hit’s a crank bait there’s no better time than the present to set the hook. Delaying the set will only give a fish more time to realize that it made a big mistake and reject your bait. A super sensitive rod like St. Croix’s Legend Series Small Cranker can really help and will give you the feel to detect the hit, or a bait that has quite vibrating. In either case; set the hook and hang on! See you on the water.