Over the past few months I set out to learn, and conquer a whole new way of fishing. My testing ground was Moon Lake. Trying a technique I had never put much thought into, nor interest in learning. We have all heard the saying, “A novice at many, and a pro at none”. That single truth is what motivated me to learn offshore, deep water crank baiting. Now in Florida, deep water means anything over five feet in most cases, but we do have some water approaching twenty.
My quest started by obtaining a line of DVD’s starring some of today’s best professional anglers such as, Jason Quin, Jimmy Houston, and Kelly Jordon just to name a few. Putting the whole shame thing aside, why would I try reinventing the wheel? I chose to take in some basic information, and work on finding what works for me
The first thing I found is that it takes a great deal of visualization to achieve repeated success. Blocking out water skiers, jet skis, and on coming weather conditions is a must in order to be consistently productive. I also learned that depending on cloud cover, time of day, and other factors that there are times when you can catch fish on top water crank baits (2’-4’ runners) in water over ten feet deep.
Putting away my other “favorites” was something I could only control by leaving them at home. The frogs, worms, spinner baits, and the like all stayed at home while only my crank bait boxes remained.
My lures of choice were the Rapala DT series of crank baits in all color ranges and depth ranges (quality issues eventually forced me to use Bagley Baits). My success rates rose significantly once I learned what affect on fish cloud cover and time of day have on offshore fish. In the low light conditions of early morning, or late afternoon, as well as heavy cloud cover I realized that the fish were not tight to the bottom as when the sun was high. On my graph I noticed the fish in mid depth associating to the bait schools. The complete opposite when the sun was high and strong.
My findings and success told me that when the sun is high and strong, to use crank baits that will run at the depth in which the fish are seeking shelter. In my case they were laying belly down in the short grass growing six inches to a foot above the bottom in seven to ten feet of water. I used a Rapala DT6 at first and had some success, butnot the success I felt I should be having. After several trips to the lake I decided to switch to a Rapala DT10 and the results were staggering to say the least. With the bait running several feet deeper than the depth I was in, it cause me to slow down my retrieve to keep the bait floating above the grass. Holding pressure against the bill of the bait allowed the bait to hang almost suspended and that was the secret to getting bit. Holding the bait in one spot, and gently working it back to the boat with long pauses in between, brought on some very violent strikes to say the least.
On the other hand though, I learned that with low light conditions brought on the complete opposite. The fish offshore were loose to cover, and some even close to the surface actively feeding and chasing bait. I found that silver finishes and shad patterned baits brought the best results. A few quick turns of the reel, with a pause brought on just as violent strikes as the slow suspending presentations had brought on in high sunlight conditions.
After spending the past couple of months strictly using these baits when fishing this body of water, I feel that I have a good solid foundation to grow on and use when in tournament situations. While I am far from being a pro, I have learned enough to have a starting point when on other bodies of water. Taking the time to study my sonar when practicing for upcoming tournaments will now be a priority for me. The biggest thing that I discovered is that the average quality of fish rose significantly by heading offshore.
And by the way, the bait that produced the greatest number of fish was a 2.5”, small square bill, Bagley Bait in black back, chrome sided with black specks that ran four to six feet in depth. What made the bait so deadly was its ability to suspend. Ripping the bait with five to six quick turns of the reel and then stopping caused some of the most vicious strikes I have ever felt in all of my years in fishing.
If you’re finding it hard to find summer time bass, hit the deep water and try these tips.