In most man-made lakes and river systems, a portion of the lake will have some off-colored water, current and shallow cover.
While the percentage of bass that use shallow water may not equal the numbers of offshore bass, for those anglers willing explore it, the results can often be rewarding in both quantities and quality of fish.
Bass in warm water are feeders and are particularly susceptible to reaction baits. Therefore, fast moving and fast falling lures many times will trigger strikes when other speeds won’t.
One of the top shallow summertime lures and techniques is burning a squarebill crankbait like the Megabass S-Crank around shallow cover. Generally, squarebill crankbaits are known as cold-water lures yet they can also be extremely effective if conditions are right.
The S-Crank is designed to escape randomly throughout the retrieve (it looks almost like a deflection, but in open water!) and wanders slightly side to side with an “S” pattern—especially with a fast retrieve. These are two big triggers for bass. The wide setting of the S-Crank’s bill is also designed to deflect objects and minimizes snagging.
If you have ever watched a bass in a tank, most of the time they will ignore a lure with a straight, steady retrieve. But deflect that same lure off of a limb, add a stop/start to your retrieve or vary speeds, and you will often attract new attention.
Given this, here are some keys that will generate hallow, summertime cranking success:
- Locate areas of the lake that have less than 2 feet of visibility. These areas will naturally have a larger population of shallow bass to target.
- Focus on targets available in the area. These could be stumps, laydowns, docks, rocks or pilings.
- Once you approach a target, casting accuracy and boat positioning are critical. Study the cover and how it lays in the water. Pay attention to the current and wind direction. It’s important to stay positioned so you can make multiple casts to a target.
- Getting the right deflection angle is what will trigger a strike. It may happen on the 1st or the 30th The S-Crank is a great lure to make repeated casts in warm water, since its retrieve line is erratic and it will present differently on each cast.
- Keep the speed of the bait up and vary the retrieve. Speed and erratic action are big triggers to a bass once the water temperature is over 80 degrees. This is where the S-Crank’s open water “deflection” feature becomes a big advantage.
- Match the S-Crank with the proper setup. Given that most of the summer cover is shallow and the S-Crank has a depth of 4-5 feet, most of the time you can get away with 12-17lb. test Fluorocarbon line. To absorb the shock of close-quarters, accurate casting, a longer, medium-soft rod like the Megabass Orochi XX F4.5-70XX Flatside Special or F5-72XXG Swingfire coupled with a 7:1 gear ratio retrieve reel is ideal.
For the most part, the best water to search out for squarebill fishing will be the upper river arms and backs of major creeks. This is where you will find shallow cover and stained water in most man-made lakes in the summer.
If you are one of those anglers looking to avoid spending countless hours staring at your electronics over deep water, tie on the Megabass S-Crank and head for the stained water. The results will be well worth it!