Glenn: Well, got it.
Keri: Hey look at that. That's a nice fish.
Glenn: That's a really good fish.
Keri: Yeah, it is. Of course right when I cast.
Glenn: Really hanging on there.
Keri: Gotta get the net.
Glenn: I need a net, now.
Keri: Nice fish.
Glenn: That'll do. Here we go.
Keri: Awesome fish.
Glenn: Hey folks, Glenn May here with BassResource.com, and today, let's talk about crankbait fishing in the fall. Now, if there ever was a season for crankbaits, it's the fall. And that's because the bass are up actively chasing balls of baitfish. They're going after shad, they're going after the perch, they're going after bluegill. They're going after all that fish, chasing it all around the lake, actively feeding on baitfish this time of year, and there's no other bait that mimics the baitfish any better than a crankbait. So, let's talk about the different ways you can fish it to maximize this time of year.
So, let's start off with the equipment that I'm using. You gotta have really good, well-matched equipment, because these crankbaits, if you notice, you know, these are small treble hooks, that are on it. There's not a big bite to them. And they're thin wire. So, a couple things can go wrong, if you're using the wrong equipment. Primarily, you can either rip the hooks right out of the fish's mouth, or you can actually bend the hooks. I've had hooks... I've lost fish. I had a six-pound smallie I caught in the fall once, and he jumped and threw the hook, and I went, "Ah, great, that was wonderful." And I brought it back, well I had two treble hooks that were sticking straight out. It just bent them out and came off that way, because I tried to horse him in. I clamped down on the drag and I was trying to horse that fish in, and I had the wrong rod, it was too stout, and everything went wrong. So, you've gotta have matched equipment for these treble hooks. Okay? So light wire hooks, small bite, means you can't have stout equipment, you're gonna lose a trophy fish if you do that.
So, what I've got here is a medium power moderate action rod, okay. It's got a lot of give and flex to it, okay. That's what you want, because first of all, it allows you to fire that crankbait way out there, long distances, but it also has that spring and that give. When you're fighting the fish back to the boat, this rod's gonna give a little bit and take some of the pressure off those hooks. I'm also using a fluorocarbon line. I like using fluorocarbon, the Seagaur Tatsu line. This is 12 pound Tatsu line. Tatsu casts really well. It's silky smooth, nice line. Fluorocarbon has that give to it, it's got a little bit of stretch to it, so if the fish surges, that fluorocarbon's gonna help work in concert with the rod to give a little bit when that fish takes off. Plus it's got supersensitivity. And you would think, you know, you don't have to have all that sensitivity because when a fish hits your crankbait you're gonna know it, right? Not so much. A lot of times, what happens is that the crankbait's moving along the water, a fish will come up behind it and he'll grab it, and if he doesn't like what he feels, it doesn't feel natural to him, he'll blow it out. And you won't tell the difference, unless you're using some real sensitive line. You can feel the vibration of that crankbait. It'll go "tick tick tick tick tick tick," and it'll go to a "dut dut dut dut dut." Or you'll just kinda lose the feel with it. It won't feel light, but it'll just suddenly feel weird. That's the best way I can explain it, it doesn't feel right.
And that's oftentimes when the fish does that. Pulls up behind it, he's matching the speed, he closes his mouth around it, it changes the action of that lure, and you're not gonna feel that if you're using, say for example just mono or something like that. It's hard to feel those bites. I don't use braid because braid has two things, it's buoyant, not that it floats per se, but it's buoyant, So you're gonna have a bow in the water, you're not gonna have a great connection with the bait, it's not gonna let that crankbait get down to the depth that it should, plus it doesn't have any give at all, no stretch whatsoever, and that's absolutely contradictory to what you need when you're using these treble hooks. So I don't use any braid. For that reason, I don't use braided fluorocarbon or any kind of leaders. I don't want braid at all when I'm using crankbait. So I don't want that to be part of the equation. I know fluorocarbon's pretty expensive so I'll put braid backing on here, so I only have to put say, 80 yards of fluorocarbon on there, that way my package of fluorocarbon will last longer. That's a good cost-effective way of doing it, but I don't use, like, a leader, per se.
And then, what I'm also doing here, one of the small things to note is, I am using a snap. Not a snap swivel, but a snap. I don't like to use snap swivels, because a swivel will collect weeds and gunk and stuff like that. I just use a snap, and the reason I'm doing it is because during the fall when you're chasing these bass down, you're gonna be at different depths, you're gonna find a different cover, we're gonna get into that a minute, there's different ways of fishing it, and so it's a lot easier to switch out baits when you've got a snap, instead of having to retie every time you need to change baits.
So, that's the equipment I'm using, I'll be using... By the way, the reel, this is a Helios Air Reel. Real nice, it's fast. It's got a fast gear ratio, it's a seven five to one gear ratio, and that's what you need to get it cranked down really quickly down to the level it needs to be at, and you're gonna cover water pretty quickly when you get that technique in just a second. But that's what you need, and a nice smooth smooth drag to go in concert with. Everything else you have here, when that fish surges and takes off, everything gives including the drag. You don't want that drag "dut dut dut dut dut," like that, yanking on it, cause that's just gonna pull that hook free from that fish. Nice smooth drag is what you want. So, that's the equipment I'm using, now let's go fishing.
Keri: Oh nice. Oh, you got the camera. Alrighty then.
Glenn: He hit it when it bounced off the rocks.
Glenn: Yeah. Oh, another bass.
Keri: That's a bass.
Glenn: Come here, sweety.
Keri: Oh, he swam the other way, he saw the net and went under the boat.
Glenn: That's a good fish.
Keri: That's a nice fish.
Glenn: So in the fall, what I like to do is I break it up into basically two pieces. There's the first half where it's late summer into early fall, that's when the water temps get all the way down to the mid 50s or so, and then, the latter half of fall, which is from the mid 50 water temperature all the way down to the low 40s, the early winter. That's kinda what I'm talking about, as far as the two seasons. Crankbaits... The approach in the what crankbaits I use and where I fish them change those two halves. So in the first half, fish are up and moving, they're actively feeding, they're chasing down baitfish and so, you need to cover a lot of water to find them. You're not gonna be able to just go from spot to spot and get one working real slow like you can flipping a...pitching a jig, for example. You gotta go chase these fish down and find 'em. So what I tend to do is I start, kinda methodical approach. I look for bays and coves that have fresh water coming into them. The baitfish are looking for oxygen rich water, and that fresh flowing water is what brings in that oxygen-rich water. So if a bay or cove doesn't have fresh water moving into it, I skip it and I move to the next one.
And I start by working the outside parts of that cove with deeper diving crankbaits. I wanna fish the points, the humps, the ridges, the ledges, that kinda stuff. Rock piles that are sitting out there in deeper water. And for that I use a deeper diving crankbait, one that's got a nice wide wobble. So one that's got a big bill like this. That's what I'm fishing. It does this nice sashay, side to side sashay. It's got a lot of action to it. It's got some rattle noises to it. And I wanna fish a bait that it goes deeper than the area I'm fishing. So if I'm fishing at 10 feet of water, I want that crankbait to dive down to 12, 15 feet of water. I want it banging of the rocks, I want it digging up silt and all kinds of mud, and making a ruckus. Because crankbait is excellent for calling in baitfish from long distances, which is exactly what you need when you're searching, trying to find them. So it makes an excellent search bait. So that's how I fish the outside portion.
Then I move in shallower, and I'm still using that crankbait up until it's too shallow to use. But I'll throw it at anything that I can, any kind of cover that I can find. Be it chunk rock, or docks, or laydowns, that sort of stuff, I'll be fishing that. And I also use a squarebill like this. The squarebill is great for doing that because you can bounce it and deflect it off that cover, it's gonna go off at a odd angle and oftentimes that's what triggers a bite. If it just deflects off cover and bang, a fish will hit it with that change of action. Or sometimes when you bang into something, what you'll want to do if you're using a floating crankbait, let it hit and then pause, and let it float up a little bit. It looks like a stunned baitfish that just ran into something, is a little disoriented, and that'll trigger a bite. So those are two different ways, but you want it hitting that cover. Two different ways you wanna fish that cover is one, just to let it ricochet off, and the other one, to let it pause.
And then I'll fish over the tops of weed beds, those vast weed beds in those coves, that I'll use something like a Booyah One Knocker, a lipless crankbait. That's one of these. One of these right here. This works really good fishing those big weedy areas or big flats with lots of stumps and chunk rock in them. And I'll cover water quickly with it. I'm throwing a half ounce bait now, and I'm making a long cast and just burning it back, just under the surface. Getting that reaction strike, getting that fish to come up out of the weeds and smack it. You really wanna get that reaction strike, so you fish it pretty hard and heavy that time, and you'll catch a lot of fish doing it that way. You can also use that on the outside weed lines. You can jig it along the weed lines with that bait. Let it fall, and then let it sit along the weed line then bring it back up. A lot of times they'll hit it when it falls, so it's a great way to fish a lipless crankbait this time of year.
If I'm not getting bit along those areas, then I'll go out and I'll fish the main channels, the creek channels in those bays. I wanna fish the inside creek bends that swing up closer to the shoreline, or intersect with a point, or a sandbar, or something like that. The inside bend, that's the shallower part of that creek bend, usually, it has some kind of cover on it, chunk rock, stump field, weed bed, something like that. That's where the baitfish can set up on, and that's a great way to take a crankbait and pull it right across the top of it. That One Knocker is really good, because you bring it across the weeds, if you get it in the weeds a little bit, then give it a quick yank, and yank it up over the top, that change in direction, that sudden movement often triggers a bite. So, it's a really good way of fishing those lipless crankbaits this time of year, is just giving a quick yank every once in a while, pause, and continue to fish it.
If at any point I get a fish, this is where it's hard, because now you've been fishing fast, covering lots of water, and now you catch a fish. And the first thing that goes in your mind is, "Oh, well that's how I catch fish. So I'm gonna keep doing that." Don't. You actually gotta pull the ripcord. Let that parachute fly out, slow down, and now methodically cover that area. Because you found that school of fish. They school up this time of year in packs of 3 to 25 or more bass will be chasing those baitfish. And if you catch one, there's likely more in that immediate area. So you really gotta slow down and methodically fish that area. Crisscross it at different angles. I like to throw a buoy or marker out or something so I know where I'm at, and just cover everything I can with all the different types of crankbaits that I've got. The shallow and deeper diver, lipless crankbaits. And I'll pick up a lot more fish.
Now, if I... When the bite dies off after doing that, you've got a choice. There's two different things you can do. If, say, for example, I'm on a really good piece of cover, or piece of structure, whatever it may be, but if it looks real juicy and that had a good large concentration of fish, a lot of times what I'll do is I'll sit on that spot, and I'll wait for the next school to come by. Because it's likely they're gonna set up shop on that as well. And I may only have to wait 15, 20 minutes for the next school to happen by, and the action picks up again, I catch more fish. I've actually won tournaments doing that technique. But, that can be a gamble because it may not be as good of a spot as you think it is, and you may be waiting for a long period of time and nobody shows up. They don't wanna come play. So, you may be wasting your time, but it's something worth trying if you're in a really good spot. But if the bite dies down, and you don't wanna sit on that spot, then pick up sticks and take off down the shoreline again, back to fishing aggressively, back to fishing fast, until you connect with that next school of fish. Then slow down, methodically work it again.
Now, the second part of fall, we fish a little bit different. This is when that water's cooling down, and now it's getting closer to winter. Those fish are gonna pull away from those shallow areas. The weeds are dying off. When the weeds die, they're gonna consume oxygen, and like I said before, the baitfish are looking for oxygen-rich water, so they're gonna abandon those areas where weeds are dying, and they're gonna move out to the deeper weeds, to the outside weed line in the deeper water from 10 to 20 feet, 25 feet deep. That's a good area to target with a crankbait. The one that dives real down deep...deep down that area. But I'll change it a little bit. I'll go to a tighter wiggling crankbait, narrower bill, something like that. This one dives down to, I think, 10 or 12 feet deep. That's excellent for fishing along those deeper weed lines. A tighter wiggle bait, it doesn't have as much action. It's not rattling around, making as much movement, and that's kinda... You wanna mimic the activity level of the fish. They're not as aggressive as it gets colder, so you wanna get a tighter wiggle, not as much movement. And that really attracts a lot of bites during the latter half of the fall.
So I'm using that to plum the depths along those deeper weed lines, along the deeper structures that move out away from those coves, then we're moving to main lake points, we're moving to humps, ridges, rock piles, brush piles. Those type of things you wanna use. You still wanna bang along the bottom. But sometimes what I'll do is I'll do more of a pause action now. I'll start banging stuff, and I'll pause for a second. Look stunned, I'll a wait a little bit while sometimes I uses a suspending type crankbait so it doesn't float up as much, and that's a really good way of getting those strikes when the fish are lethargic. As a matter of fact, sometimes what I'll do is I'll go out and I'll position the boat shallower and I'll throw out to deeper water, and I'll slowly work it uphill. Slowly. Just let it bang and bounce and just kinda work its way slowly uphill. And for that, I'll usually change colors, I'll use like a crawdad pattern, a crawdad color crankbait, because I want it to look more like a crawdad making its way on up the cover. So that is an excellent way of catching, especially in the fall, late fall when they're not aggressively chasing baitfish.
As far as colors, as I touched upon it, there's really only two colors you need. One is fire tiger, and that's what this is. That's just a fire tiger pattern right there. That works everywhere. That is an excellent color to be throwing. Don't be fishing crankbaits in the fall without fire tiger. You just need that color, and then any kind of bait fish color. So, for example, this color here, you know, kind of a gray silver. You know, that's a sexy shad kind of color. Just any kind of shad color. Those are the two colors you need, with the exception of a crawdad pattern when you're fishing it uphill, like I just mentioned.
Keri: Another one?
Glenn: Yeah, I caught it right off the rock. It hit the rock. Bang. Nice. It ricocheted off the rock. Here we go.
Couple other things to note. If it's windy out, which we get a lot of that during the fall, you get those fronts coming through...if it's windy, make sure you not only target those banks and coves in the shoreline that's getting hit by the wind, because that churns up the water, there's a lot of oxygen there, and it draws in the baitfish to feed. Of course, the bass are gonna follow. But also, when it's windy, you wanna speed up your retrieve, because the fish are gonna be really aggressive. There's areas in lakes that I fish that are void of cover, void of fish, I never catch them there, except when it's windy. And if the wind's blowing up in that area, man oh man, it's like every cast. All right? It's crazy. And you can't fish it fast enough. There's no way, you can't fish the crankbait too fast. You just load the boat doing that, so watch for that, the windy conditions getting more aggressive. Conversely, if it's really calm out, it's glass smooth, now you'll wanna go a much slower retrieve, and be a little more methodical in your approach to catch those fish. So, a couple ways to adjust your retrieve based on the weather conditions. But that's basically how I fish crankbaits during the fall. I hope that helps. For more tips and tricks like this, visit BassResource.com.