Larry's Fishing Hole

SHALLOW CRANKING

September and fall is our favorite time of year to be out with the pleasant days and fewer crowds. The shorter days and cooler nights spur fish into actively feeding to fatten up for the winter months ahead. During fall when fish are following baitfish into the shallow waters and cover, you can catch fish much more shallow. This is a time we find shallow running crankbaits fished within 2-6 feet of the surface to really pay off with some nice fall catches when many anglers are ignoring this type of bait and presentation.
These minnow or small fish imitating baits have the right wiggle, bulk, buoyancy and when worked slowly near cover with some pauses, can be reliable fish catchers. You can also use these baits when fish are suspended in deeper water over brush, weeds or tree tops too. Usually shallow running crankbaits run at more precise depths making them more effective since you can keep them in the desired Strike Zone longer. But DO NOT make the mistake of avoiding cover such as areas with stumps and we find stained waters can be more productive with this technique. Casting to visible objects may be productive at times, but shallow cranking is more than casting to visible targets. Be sure to search out and fish around objects like shallow stumps, brushpiles, rockpiles and around submerged weeds.
As for presentation, try casting past the target when possible so the bait has a chance to reach the proper depth and action by the time it gets in the strike zone. For fishing around cover you want a bait to be highly buoyant so it will float up over logs when you stop reeling allowing you to retrieve your lure successfully through some pretty thick wood. We have found the more squared lip baits will not roll over when it hits objects, therefore, decreasing your risk of snagging or hanging up more than the round or pointed lip baits. As the lure approaches the cover, simply pause and let it float up slightly, then resume your retrieve fishing slowly around the wood and brush to keep it from hanging up. This slow stop-and-go retrieve will not only allow you to walk the bait through cover but will add some strike attracting appeal.
Our most productive colors for fall shallow cranking are shad patterns and some various chartreuse patterns. Although when fishing stained waters, Fire Tiger and variations of Crawdad colors have worked well too.
Here are some shallow crankbaits we find to work well:
- Mann's Baby X or the C-4
- Rapala DT Series DT04 & DT06
- Rebel Wee-R in Blue/Chartreuse
- Strike King Pro-Model Series 1 & 4S
- Storm's Short Wart or the new Arashi Square Bill
- And my old Big O crankbaits
You may find that in early fall, downsizing may work better to match the bait fish in your area. Than later, go back to some bigger bodied baits to imitate shad along the banks. When the main lake is slow during fall, fish the backs of creeks and shallower flats around that cover such as stumps, brush and rocks.
September is full of changes in temperature or weather and any drops in the temperatures can bring about increased action. We can not forget about the productive topwater and soft jerk baits, but if you give these shallow cranks a try, you will be very surprised how versatile and fun they are.
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Till Next Time, GOD BLESS & GOOD FISHING !

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