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Crankbaits In The Fall

By Bob Jensen - November 1, 2003
In the fall, crankbaits are one of my favorite lures for catching fish. Most species of fish eat crankbaits, and often times the larger fish will respond very favorably to these hard-bodied lures. The key is selecting the right crankbait, then putting it where the fish live. Here are some ideas for doing that.

First you've gotta' find the fish. This time of year you can find the different species of fish, in most bodies of water, relating to remaining green weed growth or rocks. On the various bodies of water you will find walleyes, pike, muskies, and smallmouth bass on rocks, and you will find those same species and largemouth bass on weedlines. Usually the deeper weedlines will be best. If you can find a stand of green cabbage weed in deeper water, you will probably find some fish.

Now we need to select a bait. This time of year a crankbait that has a shorter, fatter profile will be best for largemouth bass. A Frenzy Diver is a good example of a short, fat crankbait that largemouth bass like to eat.

For the other species of fish, a longer, thinner minnow shaped bait will be better. Go with the magnum sizes for pike and muskies: Walleyes will prefer something in the size range of a Frenzy Minnow.

When fishing the cabbage, it works well to start out using a bait that will run right over the top of the cabbage. Sometimes the bait will get hung in the weeds. When this happens, give the rod a rip: This ripping motion will sometimes trigger a fish into striking.

Most crankbaits run deeper as they are retrieved. If you stop reeling, the bait starts floating back to the surface. There is a new bait called the Suspending Firestick Minnow. It runs two to four feet below the surface on the retrieve, but if you quit reeling, it stays right at the level it was when you quit reeling. Give it a couple of jerks before you start reeling again and often times a hesitant fish will smack the bait.

I prefer to fish the minnow shaped baits on spinning tackle, ten pound test Trilene XT is about right for most situations.

Casting tackle and twelve or fourteen pound test XT does a good job with the fatter style baits.

You will want to vary how the baits are being fished. Sometimes a casting presentation will be best, other times it will be most effective to troll.

Sometimes casting over the tops of the weeds will produce strikes; sometimes it will work well to position yourself along the deep edge of the weeds and cast parallel to the weeds. The most important thing is to try crankbaits at this time of year. The are easy to use, they will produce lots of fish, and they will produce big fish, and that's a winning combination anytime.

Author Bob Jensen
Bob Jensen
Bob Jensen is the host of the Fishing the Midwest television series, a series of television fishing shows that highlight fishing locations and techniques throughout the Midwest. He also writes a syndicated fishing column and does fishing seminars throughout the Midwest. He is a former fishing guide and tournament angler. Visit Bob's web site at
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