Early June bass get cranked up

When bass recover from the spawn and move offshore, crankbaits are incredibly productive baits for putting good numbers of quality bass in your livewell.

I am asked a lot of questions almost daily when I’m practicing for a tournament or fishing a tournament with a co-angler, and inevitably, this question comes up:

“What is your favorite type of fishing?”

I usually reply that my favorite way to fish is whatever I’m doing when I’m catching the most fish.

Which brings us to June, and a period of about two or three weeks that is definitely one of the most fun for me every year — when you get to crank for those bass that have recovered from the spawn and are eating again. It’s a time when you can really catch ’em, because they’re ganged up in relatively small areas, and they’re hungry from not eating much for a couple of weeks.

Bass move out of their spawning areas once the spawn is finished, and they generally look for some good offshore structure that holds bait. The structure can be a secondary point in a creek fairly close to a spawning pocket, a point close to the mouth of a creek that’s along the route the fish will take to get to the deep, main-lake areas where he’ll spend the summer, or a hump along a creek channel.

You can fish all of these places with a Carolina- or Texas-rigged worm or a jig, but a deep-diving crankbait is so much more efficient. You need to learn to get out and fish offshore structure with a crankbait, because you’re not only going fishing, you’re also going hunting — you have to hunt for the fish.

In South Carolina, the good early-summer crankbait fishing usually kicks off in June, and it will last two or three weeks before fish move out to the deeper spots where they’ll spend the summer. Typically, it will get started about 10 days after the peak of the spawn is finished, because it takes a fish a few days to get its act together; it takes them a while to get settled in. But when they get there, they’ll be there for a few weeks. Water and weather conditions will determine exactly when they move, how long they stay and where they go.

You can really catch ’em because they’ll move out in waves as the spawn ends. They’re pretty much loners during the spawn, but afterwards, you can find them in pretty good-sized bunches. My best idea on why that happens is that bass have a way of knowing what bait is best for them in terms of protein and availability — sort of like a deer knowing which food plot to visit. Maybe that’s happening with bass; maybe they all head for certain places because the bait is there and they can get healthy in a hurry.

Typically, when I feel like the bass have recovered from the spawn and are ready to eat a crankbait, I’ll have several different ones tied on before I put my boat in. I’ll have a bait that runs 6 to 8 feet deep, one that runs 8 to 10, and maybe one that runs out to 12 or 14 feet deep. I want to be ready to fish different depths depending on the kind of places I might find them. I use a lot of shad colors in June because that’s the predominant baitfish in most lakes in the Carolinas. In the spring, I use crawfish colors, but as they move off the banks, I go to shad colors — and it never hurts to have a little chartreuse on a bait.

When I get started, I’m looking at humps and points around the mouth of a creek or just out in the main lake or river — the first piece of good structure a bass runs into after he finishes spawning. And when I’m fishing, I pay careful, careful attention to the first two or three fish I catch. If I’m fishing an underwater point, I’ll look at a map and see if the contour lines are close together or spread apart; that will give you a clue about what kinds of spots they’re going to be using.

A lot of GPS units have built-in maps, so you don’t actually have to take out a paper map. And using a map on your unit, you can see the point you’re fishing, you can see where you’re sitting relative to where the fish was, much better than the stuff you see visually on the water.

This is important because people don’t realize that bass usually aren’t scattered out all over a point or a drop, but they will be ganged up on one specific little spot; there may be one place on that point where all the fish are going. Those kinds of places can be hard to find, but once you find them, you can catch a lot of fish in a hurry — and you can really develop solid patterns; when bass first move out after the spawn in early June, that’s one of the best times of the year to pattern fish.

You catch 2 or 3 on the inside of a secondary point that drops from 6 to 8 feet and has a few stumps, then you start looking for other places on your map that look like that spot. With a little luck, you find the same kind of place in the next creek that also has a few stumps and you catch 2 or 3 more on that spot.

If I’m just out fishing for fun and run across a good spot, I might settle down and catch a few on a crankbait, then pick up a Texas-rigged worm or a Carolina rig and catch a few more. If I’m practicing for a tournament, I’ll leave to try to find more spots. If I’m fishing in a tournament and stumble across a spot like that, I’ll try to load the boat before I leave.

Some of the crankbaits I really like are the Rapala DT baits, some of the Bill Norman baits and some of the Berkley baits. I fish them on a 7-foot All-Star cranking rod, which is a graphite/glass composite, using a Pfleuger Supreme baitcasting reel spooled with 10-pound test Trilene. The line I use may vary a little in size depending on what I’m trying to do, but mostly it’s 10.

I typically to swing all my crankbait fish into the boat. At this time of year, they’re usually real aggressive and will really hit a bait, and without having to horse ’em, you can get ’em coming to the boat pretty good and swing ’em on in. There will be some days when they aren’t biting as good; they’ll just nip at a bait and only get one hook in the edge of their mouth. Then you’ve got to be more careful.

Either way, you can wind up with a great bag of fish.

 

Davy Hite is a 40-year-old native of Saluda who lives in Ninety Six, S.C. He has fished professionally since 1993. He was the BASS Angler of the Year in 1997 and 2002, and he has won the 1999 Bassmasters Classic and the 1998 FLW Tour Championship. He is sponsored by Triton boats, Evinrude outboards, All-Star rods, Pfleuger reels, Pure Fishing (Berkeley), Owner hooks and Solar-Bat sunglasses.

About Davy Hite 174 Articles
Davy Hite is a native of Saluda, S.C., who now resides in Ninety Six, S.C. He began fishing professionally in 1993, when he qualified for his first Bassmaster Classic. He was the BASS Angler of the Year in 1997 and 2002, and he won the 1999 Bassmaster Classic and the 1998 FLW Tour Championship.

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