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late summer largemouth bass

Late Summer Crankbait Strategies

Late summer offers definite challenges for bass fishermen because the bass don’t like the heat any more than most fishermen do, so they tend to lay low. Fish still must eat, though, and they certainly can be caught.

Long-time Tennessee guide Jim Duckworth, who has techniques to work well for every season and virtually every situation, likes a couple of specific crankbait approaches for bass fishing through the dog days. Maybe we should say, “dog mornings.” Duckworth gets on the water while it’s still dark this time of year to be set up in a high-percentage spot at daylight, and he seldom fishes past mid-morning in order to maximize productive time on the water.

Duckworth has learned that late in the summer quality bass tend to stack up on deep, main-lake points that are at the mouths of significant coves or creeks. He works these points with Bandit 200s and 300s fished on 8-pound test for maximized depth reach and vibration.

Duckworth will crank a point very thoroughly from the tip of the point to about 50 yards away on each side. “Work both sides twice, just in case you have to aggravate the fish into biting,” he said.

Duckworth also finds a lot of late summer bass over the second drop out from banks, with depths in the 10-to 15-foot range. For these fish, he uses an aggressive stop-and-go presentation. He cranks the lure quickly to max depth before pausing, and each pause is just long enough to allow the bait to start rising.

“Then I crank it into high gear for about five second, stop it again and repeat,” he said.

Both cranking strategies can work under any condition, but Duckworth finds the best late summer success under overcast skies and with stable water conditions.

Jim Duckworth suggests trying these dog days strategies to #LandItWithBandit.

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Crickhopper Lures

Hopper Season

By Jeff Samsel

Fly-fishermen know. Whether they are targeting brown trout, stream smallmouths or farm pond bluegills, fly-rodding anglers know that from mid-summer to late fall, displaced terrestrial insects provide important forage for gamefish cruising near the shore, making hopper patterns and other “terrestrial” flies outstanding options.

Spin-fishermen often overlook this fun way to fish, but in truth, what a terrestrial insect fly pattern can do, a Rebel Crickhopper can do better! Crickhoppers and Bighoppers (larger Crickhoppers) offer a natural profile and colors, just like a good fly, but it’s far easier to make quick accurate casts to current seams, eddies and pieces of cover with ultralight spinning gear than with a fly rod. In addition, a Crickhopper can be brought to life with rod tip twitches or slow reeling to effectively imitate the natural behavior of terrestrial insects that find themselves afloat.

If you’ve ever seen a cricket or grasshopper land in the water and watched what happened next, you probably understand what makes this kind of fishing so exciting. You also might remember the bug’s behavior. Typically, a grasshopper that finds itself afloat will be motionless at first, maybe just trying to gain orientation. Then, it in starts scurrying across the top – sometimes steadily, but often frantically – in the direction of dry land (or so it hopes). It will stop periodically, whether to rest or regain orientation, and then continue its surface kicking. In many streams, ponds and lakes, chances of getting back to shore are minimal.

Work a Crickhopper to match this behavior. Cast near the bank, beside cover, to a current seam or to some other inviting spot and let the bait rest or drift in the current for several seconds. If nothing attacks, barely twitch the rod tip one or two times and then start working the lure either by reeling steadily or with short sharp twitches of the rod tip. Slow reeling causes the bait to swim at the surface and push out a wake. Quick twitches make it dance more erratically.

Either way, pause the lure every now and then, and be extra ready when you start it moving again. Often fish hover beneath a bait when it stops, and the next bit of motion triggers an attack.

Be aware that if bluegills or other panfish are present, they are apt to hit a Crickhopper repeatedly, and smaller fish, especially, often won’t connect. Don’t set the hook unless the lure disappears, or you’ll yank it away from fish quite a bit. Just keep working it when you are getting smaller bites, and it won’t be long before something attacks more decisively.

Crickhopper Popper

A Crickhopper Popper provides an excellent alternative to the regular Crickhopper when you want sound to get fish’s attention but still want a cricket/grasshopper profile. It has the same body as a Bighopper but is equipped with a cupped popping face. Fish it with gentle rod snaps and pauses and hold on tight!

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Tail Weighted Boy Howdy

Cotton Cordell Classic Returns

Some lures don’t get talked about much, but not because they don’t produce fish. In truth, the opposite situation sometimes prompts silence. Because certain lures catch so many fish, anglers in the know want to keep their secret a secret. That is, until such a lure goes out of production because not enough anglers knew of its magic. Then everyone starts talking about that lure, clamoring for its return, and the longer it remains gone, the louder the chatter grows.

Such is been the story of Cotton Cordell’s Tail Weighted Boy Howdy, and the buzz from fishermen all over the nation eventually grew so loud that Cotton Cordell decided to bring back this topwater classic, which has been described “the most effective do-nothing lure ever created.”

Unlike the traditional Boy Howdy, the Tail Weighted Boy Howdy has no blades. It is a pencil-style topwater lure, and tail weighting makes it stand up when not in motion.

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War Eagle Delivers Ultimate Flipping Jig

Short version: War Eagle’s new Jiu-Jigsu is the ultimate flipping jig.

Easy to say, of course. Details back this bold assertion, though. War Eagle worked closely with pro staff to develop the Jiu-Jigsu, incorporating every detail top pros had never found in a single jig and then allowing the same pros to put prototypes through rigorous testing.

A flipping jig must winch heavyweight bass out of seriously thick stuff, so everything begins with the hook, which is a super stout Owner Zo-Wire hook. The modified Arkie-style 5/8-ounce head is powder coated for extreme durability and features a recessed eye that helps this jig crawl through dense cover without getting hung. A dozen exclusive colors of premium Hole-In-One Skirts provide the perfect amount of bulk and movement and ideal color combinations for every flipping and pitching situation.

Adding functionality, the Jiu-Jigsu features a weedguard that keeps you out of trouble but flexes just enough for unimpeded hooksets. A wire keeper, meanwhile, makes it easy to complete your offering with any type of trailer.

Need to see for yourself? Shop Here

Slip Floats for Bigger Summer Bluegills

Walk the banks of a typical pond, slow-moving stream or lake cove this time of year, and you’re apt to see bluegills holding in shady spots and close to brush, stumps, weed edges or any other cover. Most won’t be very large, though. What you cannot see is that many bigger ‘gills probably are holding in similar spots and still fairly close to the bank, but a little farther out and just deep enough to stay out sight.

The good news is that those larger bluegills (plus closely related sunfish, such as shellcrackers, longears and redbreasts) are typically easy to find and catch and offer fun summer fishing. A small slip float, such as a Thill Americas Favorite Series float (1/2-inch, pencil, slip), is the main tool for delivering an irresistible live cricket or worm just off the bottom in a little deeper water. You’ll also need a float stop on your line to control depth, a split shot or two and a No. 6 or so hook.

Specific depths vary relative to overall bank pitch, water color, bottom make-up and availability of cover, but the fish will generally be near the bottom in 4 to 12 feet. Even the shallow end of that range stretches comfortable casting with a set float, but with slip float, there is no awkwardness in casting, and the bait goes exactly to the depth you set it for every time. It’s also simple to adjust depths by sliding your stopper on the line. If you aren’t getting bit, try working slightly deeper. If the float doesn’t stand up, you’re on the bottom. Set the stopper slightly shallower.

Some fish will hold around obvious cover, like tree branches, weed edges or dock corners. Others will hold near rocks or stumps you can’t see. Cast or pitch to the obvious stuff that’s just out from the bank, but also cast to open water directly out from where you see small sunfish or where you notice rocks or other cover on the bottom in the shallow margin.

Whether you’re walking the bank or fishing from a boat, fish in search mode initially. If your bobber doesn’t dance after a couple of minutes, twitch the rod a couple of times to move the bait slightly and make it dance. Wait another minute or so and then reel in and make another cast. As you fish, adjust your depth, vary distances of casts from the shore, and keep moving until you start getting bit.

When you do catch a fish or get a good bite, work that area thoroughly and take note of things like the cover, the slope and the depth. If you catch more, and they are the size you are seeking, stay put until they quit biting and then search for similar spots. Otherwise, keep searching and collecting clues as you go. With this simple approach, it shouldn’t be long before you figure out all you need to and can enjoy some fun fish-caching action.

Topwater Bassing in the Dark

The steady gurgle of a Jitterbug can lull you into a daze, but don’t let that happen. Night bites on topwater plugs occur with zero warning, sometimes right at the boat, and they tend to be violent. Don’t let that scare you away, just don’t get too relaxed. There’s something truly thrilling about casting by the light of the moon (or into total darkness), fishing by sound and feel, and being at least somewhat startled by every strike.

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Jason Christie Swims A Boo Jig, Craw Chunk To Elite Victory

Oklahoma’s Jason Christie won the Bassmaster Elite Tournament on Arkansas’ Lake Dardanelle Sunday, collecting the $100,000 prize, the big trophy and a Toyota Bonus Bucks award of an extra $3,000. Just as exciting is his win-and-in Bassmaster Classic entry. He now has qualified to fish the biggest bass tournament in the world three years in a row.

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These Deadly Topwater Lures from the Past Still Work Today

The lure company named “Arbogast” is rarely seen in the results columns of modern tournament winners. Yet, at a time not too long ago, that name stood among the top of all popular lures. I was reminded of this recently while watching one of the Bill Dance TV shows when Bill stated he caught his first lunker bass—all of two pounds—while fishing with his grandfather in a Middle Tennessee pond. What topwater lure brought this “monster” to the net? If you are over fifty, you probably guessed right….the famous Jitterbug!

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3 Top Spots for Bomber 13A Trout

A single glance made me almost certain that the Bomber 13A would be a fine trout producer. I already knew the 13A’s slightly larger cousin, the 14A, to have an outstanding action for enticing trout. First cast in a real stream confirmed the bait to swim the way that I had hoped. Third cast brought the more important confirmation in the form of a fat rainbow.

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