Ask B.A.S.S. Elite Series pro Pete Ponds of Madison about his favorite late summer fishing pattern, and you get no hesitation.
“I love cranking this time of year, and there’s no better choice than the Bandit Flat Maxx, no matter what type of lake you are fishing,” Ponds said.
Bandit Lures, located in Sardis, is one of his tour sponsors, and he helped develop the Flat Maxx.
“Take a big lake, like Barnett Reservoir or Grenada, this time of year is when shad start to gather in the afternoons and bass will come up busting them,” said Ponds. “Instead of fishing on top like a lot of people do, I throw the Maxx and try to catch the bigger fish underneath. The big fish are lazy, and they usually stay down and just pick off the shad that are injured.
“What I do is throw past the surface action, crank the reel four or five times real fast, stop and then give it a good hard jerk. That’s when they usually load up on it. If not, I will reel a few times fast again, stop and jerk again.”
As September progresses toward fall, Ponds keeps a Flat Maxx handy at all times.
“When the shad start migrating out of deep open water, what I do is find a well-defined creek channel winding through a flat and work the edges,” he said. “What you want is a flat where the water is 4 feet deep on the flat and 8 or 10 feet in the creek channel. I will work the edges of that creek channel, especially anywhere I can find an S-curve in the creek or a sharp bend.
“Work both sides of it until you find the fish. Sometimes they like the insides of the bends, and other times they like the outsides. But if you are in a creek where shad are migrating, bass will be there to feed and will be aggressive. That’s why a crankbait can be so effective.”
So what about smaller lakes that don’t have shad?
“Same thing, only instead of a Flat Maxx in a shad color, switch to a bream-colored lure,” said Ponds. “Find the areas close to where the bream bedded earlier in the summer and you bet bass will be nearby.
“Now, if the bass and bream have moved into timber, like stumps or old brush piles, I will switch to the 200 Bandit instead of the Flat Maxx, because the 200 is more timber-friendly.”