I'll be fishing Calling Panther near Crystal Springs during July because the next state-record bass likely will be caught in this lake. I want to be the one to catch it. There are two ways to fish Calling Panther. You can fish to catch numbers of bass or fish to catch really big bass. I'd always rather catch big bass.
Although July can be a tough month for bass fishing, I'll be fishing Calling Panther with its abundance of standing timber where the bass will find a water depth and temperature where they'll be comfortable. The bass can move up and down those trees, according to the water temperature and the amount of oxygen in the water, and always have structure to hold next to where they feel comfortable.
In July, I prefer to fish a crankbait like the Mann's 20+, but use it differently from the way most people fish it. If you get irritated when your crankbait hangs up, you won't enjoy this method of fishing since you will get hung up. Cranking timber is a very aggravating way to fish. I like the chartreuse/blue Mann's 20+ and any shad color, and fish it on 20-pound-test fluorocarbon line with a 7-foot, 11-inch cranking rod and a 4.7:1 gear-ratio Pinnacle cranking reel.
The secret to catching bass is to look for the "Y" in the trees - where a limb comes out from the trunk or a secondary limb comes off from the main limb and forms a Y. I'll deliberately crash my bait into those Ys and hope that when the crankbait is stopped by the Y, either a bass will take the bait or the crankbait will float back up and allow me to crank it over the Y. Sometimes my bait will run-over the Y or get hung up, and often the bass will take the bait before it ever hits the Y.
Most people won't fish a crankbait like this because this type of fishing is aggravating. Bass holding on or near these Ys rarely will see a crankbait coming through the timber like this, giving you an advantage of catching the bass that no one else will catch as you fish places no one else wants to fish. I'll also be fishing the crankbait on points and anywhere I can find a log lying in the water or underwater.
The second tactic I'll be using in July is just like the first tactic, but I'll be using a different bait, a 12-inch Mann's Jelly Worm with the same 20-pound-test Berkley Trilene fluorocarbon line. I'll also be fishing with a 7 1/2-foot rod and 6.4:1 gear-ratio reel, and will put a 1/2-ounce slip sinker ahead of the worm. The 12-inch worm will catch a few small bass, but it attracts bigger fish. I'll get a lot of bites with this big worm and miss some bass with it. However, I'll have a chance to catch really big fish, which is what I want. I like the watermelon-red and the smoke worms.
I'll be pitching that big worm right up beside the tree and letting it fall to the bottom. I'll often get a strike when the bait's falling, and if I do, I need to figure out the water depth at which the bass has taken the worm on the fall.
If I don't get a bite as the worm's falling, I start pulling the worm up the tree. When the worm comes to a limb, I'll let it fall over the limb and down. I work that worm through those limbs on the standing timber all the way up to the surface. The bass often will take the worm as it's crawling up the trunk of the tree or when it falls over a limb.
Once again, notice at about what depth the bass take the bait. Once you learn the depth at which the bass are holding, then you can concentrate your worm fishing in that water depth and around the tree.
This technique works great in standing timber. But as you go through the timber, try to spot the trees with broken tops. The tops of those trees haven't vanished. When the tree top breaks off, it falls in the water. So you usually can use your depth finder to locate that top and then work your worm through the top of the tree that's underwater. I'll Texas-rig the 12-inch worm, so I won't get hung up as often as I will with the crankbait. I like to use a No. 6/0 Gamakatsu wide-gap hook in the worm.
I'll also fish a Mann's spinnerbait this month. Using the crankbait and worm tactics, I'll be able to establish the water depth at which the bass are holding on the trees. Then I can run that spinnerbait through that depth of water and bang it through the limbs and the trunks of the trees to trigger a strike.
I won't get a number of bites using these techniques each day I fish Calling Panther, but I'll have a good chance of catching a monster and possibly even a new state-record bass.