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Fishing Tips

FOLLOW THIS PRO’S TIPS FOR CRANKING IN SUMMER BASS

Posted 6/29/2010

Even though summer weather where Cliff Pace lives in Mississippi is usually hot and humid, the Yamaha Pro still ranks June, July, and August as his favorite fishing months. That's because he knows it's the best time of the year to find schools of bass where he can catch them on every cast with a deep diving crankbait.

"Bass have a tendency to congregate in big schools after they move out of the tributaries in spring," explains Pace, "and when they do they begin feeding heavily on shad. A big crankbait imitates this type of forage very effectively, and also gets to the depth the bass are using. It's also a lure you can cast a long distance and reel back to the boat quickly, so you can cover a lot of water."

The lures Pace is describing are made by many different manufacturers; he suggests choosing one that will dive at least 15 feet deep. He prefers a silver shad color, and he usually uses 12 pound fluorocarbon line to get the best action from the lure. Covering water is important in this type of fishing because even though the bass may be in large schools, they're frequently in a very small area, sometimes only a few feet across. The more water you can cover, the better your chances for finding that small area.

Pace suggests anglers start by fishing either river ledges or long points when they're looking for schools of summer bass, and contrary to how many anglers fish, he recommends fishing fast and not spending a lot of time in one place.

"Many summertime bass fishermen I see really do stay a long time in one spot, almost as if they're waiting for fish to come to them," says the Yamaha Pro. "What I want to do is fish as much water as I can, because I know from years of experience that once I do locate a school of fish, they're going to bite, and I'll catch them as fast as I can cast."

When fishing a ledge, such as the edge of a main river channel in a lake, Pace often positions himself on the shallow side rather than over the channel itself. This gives him the opportunity to cast not only over the edge of the channel into deep water, but also to cast parallel to that edge on the shallow side where bass often locate. Then, he makes a third cast back across the shallow side. He continues this zig-zag routine as he moves down the lake.

"On many lakes, such as those along the Tennessee River, bass frequently concentrate over mussel shell beds, rather than suspend out over the channel itself," he explains, "so that's why I keep casting the shallow side of the break. Frequently, those shell beds, or other bare, rocky spots common on most lakes, are along the very edge of the channel, and of course, a lot of fishermen find them.

"My casts further back across the shallow side are to locate hard bottom spots other fishermen usually overlook. They may be only 10 feet deep, but they can be just as productive."

When he's fishing points for summertime bass, the Yamaha pro often goes against the norm again, primarily by positioning his boat up on the point in the shallower water and casting deeper. He'll gradually ease out until he's in 25 feet of water.

"I change retrieves on nearly every cast, too," continues Pace, "until I find something the bass respond to. I want my crankbait making contact with the bottom, and if I catch two or three fish, it's usually enough to tell me the general depth range the bass are using. If, on the other hand, I work that point all the way out to 25 feet and don't get a fish, I leave and find another point."

Probably the most important aspect of fishing this way, he emphasizes, is realizing that it may take several hours of fruitless casting and searching before finding a school of fish. Pace has literally fished miles of channel ledges without catching a single fish before finally locating a school.

"Then," concludes the Yamaha pro, "when you do find them, they're not hard to catch, and you immediately forget about all the empty water you've just covered. You really can catch them on every cast, and if they suddenly stop biting, you can usually change your boat position so you can cast from a slightly different angle, and start catching the all over again."