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Crank up those transitional bass

Crank up those transitional bass

This is the time of year when fishing in the areas of the lake where you were catching them last month has kinda petered out.

That’s because we’re headed into the transitional part of the season when fish aren’t as grouped up, and they are starting to move to fall areas.

We all know that the fall fishing can be dynamite, but the time leading up to it can leave an angler scratching his head.

Here’s the problem – the bait is beginning to scatter, and the bass are moving with them. Even though we haven’t had much cool weather in many parts of the country until recently, that movement is triggered by length of our days. Just as deer know when to start mating, bait and bass recognize shorter days signal a time to start thinking about fall feeding patterns and moving shallower.

For example, here in Michigan, water temps are currently well above normal due to an extended summer. Even so, the bass are starting to scatter and we’re seeing more baitfish in the shallows.

And while it may still be hot in the Deep South, I can assure you similar bait/bass activities are starting to occur.

This makes it very difficult for an angler to put together a pattern. If you’re fishing jigs or finesse presentations, you’re limiting yourself in the amount of water you can cover.

That’s why I recommend you pick up a crankbait and get that trolling motor moving until you find them. Crankbaits are not only efficient search baits, but they have a better chance of drawing strikes because of their baitfish resemblance.

When we fished Mille Lacs Lake in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of Year Championship, I spent a vast amount of my practice time running areas with a Strike King Series 5 and 5XD. They allowed me to cover water quickly and target a broad section of the water column. That’s hard to do with plastics and even spinnerbaits because you can’t cover a lot of water or fish a zone, unless you’re fishing relatively shallow.

Now, once I did find fish, I slowed down and went back through those areas with different presentations. For example, I caught most of my fish in the AOY Championship on spinnerbaits and jerkbaits even though I found those fish on crankbaits during practice.

Crankbaits are great early fall lure choices when the water is clear or relatively clear. Now, in murkier water the biting fish are probably shallow so you can use spinnerbaits and crankbaits like a KVD 1.5 Square Bill that throw off more vibrations. Those become key players later in the year on reservoirs regardless of the water color once the bass get in the shallow ends of the creeks.

When choosing lure colors for early fall cranking, factor in water clarity and the type of forage base the bass are gobbling up. If it’s shad, choose shad colors. If bluegill, perch or alewives are the dominate baitfish, match those. In clear water, more natural presentations are best; in stained water, something with a little more color should work.

Also, the clearer the water, the faster I will work a bait. And in dirtier water, I opt for crankbaits that have a wider wobble and throw out a lot more vibration.   

So if your fishing successes are on the decline, pick up a crankbait and go huntin’. That’s the best way to track down these transition bass.

And when you do, remember that it’s all about the attitude!