As the weather warms up, I look for lakes with deep structure where big bass can hold and feed. My pick this month is 1,000-acre Lake Okhissa in Franklin County near Bude, one of the newest lakes in the state.

To make Okhissa a great fishing lake, the state has added a lot of features, like plenty of offshore structure at the right fishing depth, while maintaining a lot of standing timber in the lake.

The lake reaches depths up to 60 feet and has a number of points and underwater humps. This month, I'll be fishing these offshore structures with crankbaits, jigs and Carolina-rigged plastic worms.


I'll be fishing a Mann's 20+ crankbait with a brown back and chartreuse sides and/or a shad-colored crankbait. The bass will be holding in about 12 to 15 feet of water in July. Be sure to choose a crankbait that will dive deeper than the water you plan to fish. This way, the crankbait can reach the bottom, and you can dig the bill into the bottom. I like to fish points that drop off from 10 to 12 feet into deeper water with rocks and stumps.

The lake's design provides fishing lanes between the timber and the main part of the lake, allowing bank fishermen to fish these lanes. There also are quite a few unmarked, man-made humps in this lake, which have been built specifically for crankbait fishing. To locate these humps, use your depth finder. The tops of the humps often will be in 12 to 18 feet of water, although many of the humps are in 7 to 10 feet of water.

Retrieve your crankbait as fast as you can, but pay attention to what your crankbait is telling you about the bottom, or else you'll get hung-up. You have to feel the lip of that crankbait as it works through the cover. I prefer to fish the Mann's 20+ in this lake because it has a wide bill and doesn't hang-up like other big crankbaits when you're fishing deep.

To help your crankbait not hang-up when cranking in deep cover, point your rod tip at the crankbait as you reel it. When you feel the bait hit a rock or a stump, slow it down and use your rod tip to lift the crankbait up and over the structure. Most of the time, the bill will walk right over the top of the rock or the stump.

As soon as you feel that bill come off the cover, speed up your retrieve and crank the bait fast to make it dive. When you speed up that crankbait, it will look like a baitfish trying to get away from a predator, which often will trigger a strike from bass holding on the back side of that cover.

When I'm deep cranking, I use 15-pound-test Berkley fluorocarbon line because it sinks better than monofilament, it has low stretch and I can feel the bait on the bottom better with fluorocarbon line than with braid or monofilament.

Carolina rigs

On my Carolina rig, I'll use a 3/4-ounce slip sinker up the line that comes down to a barrel swivel, and I'll tie about a 2-1/2- to 3-foot-long leader coming off the bottom line of the barrel swivel. I'll use 20-pound-test Stren Super Braid as my main line and 20-pound-test Berkley Big Game line for the leader.

At the end of the leader, I'll tie on a No. 5/0 Gamakatsu extra-strong wide-gap hook with either a 9- or 10-inch ripple tail worm or a 12-inch Mann's Jelly Worm. My favorite color at this time of the year is green-pumpkin or watermelon-red. I'll be working the Carolina rig slowly, so I can feel every piece of structure it touches.

When your weight hits a piece of cover, you'll know it's in an area where you can catch bass. Once that lead weight slides over or off a piece of cover, be prepared for a strike.

At this time of year, when a bass decides to eat, it usually will attack the bait hard. I set the hook as soon as I feel the bass on the line. I prefer to use really big baits during the summer months, and especially on this lake, because it holds numbers of big bass. I'll generally fish the crankbait across the points and the humps first, and then fish those same areas with the Carolina-rigged worm.

Don't forget the jig

Also, I'll be fishing the Mann's Stone Jig in these same spots. I prefer the black/blue or the green-pumpkin jig and trailer. I also really like the Mann's crawfish trailer in the green-pumpkin color.

At this time of year, on deep structure, you often can locate a large school of bass. When the bass stop hitting the crankbait or the Carolina rig, I'll cast the jig. By alternating these three baits, you can catch several bass from the same school.

When fishing deep in Lake Okhissa, I recommend using a 3/4-ounce jig on 30-pound-test Stren Super Braid line. I also like to drag a jig up a rock or a log and then hop it off that structure. I don't really jump the jig. I just use my rod tip to ease the jig off the cover. In this lake, if you jump the jig, you'll jump it into something and get it hung up.

Lake Okhissa holds numbers of little and big bass. You'll likely catch 5- to 8-pound bass or bigger at Lake Okhissa. Because the lake has several good points and deep structure, it's my pick for July. The bass are there, and if you try these techniques, you'll catch them.