John's Journal...

A Deadly Bassing System - Crank ‘Em Up with Cliff Craft

Old Creek Channels

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note:  Cliff Craft of Suwanee, Georgia, a retired professional bass fisherman and guide, qualified for the prestigious Bassmaster Classic seven times and in the past won the Angler-of-the-Year title and numerous bass-fishing tournaments. Many of Craft’s wins came while fishing his favorite bait, the crankbait, and he was considered by many fishermen to be one of the top crankbaiters of his time. Here’s a visit with this crankbaiting fanatic.Click to enlarge

Fishing an old creek channel with a deep-diving Bagley’s DB 3 helped win the Eufaula Open one year for me, so naturally this lure is one of my favorites. I try to position my boat so that my lure will go to the submerged ledges and come away from the bank at a 45-degree angle down the old creek channel. For a crankbait to work effectively in deep water, it should be digging the bottom or be close to the bottom. However, what some anglers fail to realize is that the speed of retrieve does not equal the depth of bait. A fast retrieve does help crank the bait down. But the line above the surface of the water is what helps hold the bait up. So, when you want maximum depth on your crankbait to allow your lure to go over the edge of a submerged creek channel, put at least 1 foot of the rod in the water. By submerging the rod, you will add 1- to 3-extra feet to the depth your bait can reach.Click to enlarge

I’ll kneel down on the front of the boat and stick the rod in the water down to the handle. Then I’ll crank the reel fast and get my bait to walk the old river or creek ledge. If I hit a stump or rock, I’ll let the bait float-up and then continue fast retrieving. When the bass strikes, it generally will inhale the bait, and you won’t have to set the hook.Click to enlarge

And working these sunken creeks with a depth finder is critical to your crankbaiting success. The depth finder shows you where the old bank, is and where the bass are. Most of the time bass will move around the sunken creek bank. So to keep your lure in the same area as the fish, you need a good depth sounder. When I’m hunting a creek channel or a ledge, I’ll use my Humminbird chart recorder to visually see the drop-off. But, when I’m fishing, I prefer the flasher unit to keep me in visual contact with the bottom and the fish. And river ledges don’t have to be deep to hold bass. A ripping retrieve works well on shallow cuts. And a stop-and-go retrieve will catch on even more shallow drop-offs.

Tomorrow: Boathouses

Check back each day this week for more about "A Deadly Bassing System - Crank ‘Em Up with Cliff Craft"

Day 1: Stumps and Logs
Day 2: Deadly Retrieves Near Stumps, Logs and Boulders
Day 3: Treetops Fishing Treetops for Bass
Day 4: Old Creek Channels
Day 5: Boathouses


Entry 512, Day 4