Get cranking for summer bass

Pete Ponds’ favorite summer cranking technique for bass is banging brushpiles in the middle of the back of coves and pockets or up on big flats.

Mention dog day cranking to most bass fishermen, they start talking about mega-diving lures that search for big fish that are seeking relief from the sun and heat on deep structure.

But when you talk to B.A.S.S. Elite Series bass pro Pete Ponds, he immediately lights up and raves about something totally different.

“Oh man, this is something I really like to talk about and something I really like to do in the heat of the summer,” said Ponds, of Madison. “I like to bang shallow cover in the backs of pockets or on big flats. This is a tournament pattern, and it seeks out big fish.”

While most fishermen are out on the edges of deep channels, Ponds will put that kind of structure on his stern and point his bow toward the shallows to find hard timber, preferably in 6 to 8 feet of water. Once found, he knocks on the door of opportunity.

“I use a shallow crankbait, like a 200 series Bandit and do what I call banging the brush,” he said. “I will crank hard to hit the timber, hoping to get the bass’ attention and when he comes out looking, I hope to give him something he can’t resist.

“The way I envision it, when I first bang that crankbait into the timber, I am getting his attention. He’s buried up in the cover, suspended, looking for shade and hoping to ambush anything that comes along. When I bang on the wood, I envision him coming out to investigate. It may take three or four or even five casts, but I will continue until I catch him or decide to move on to the next brushpile or wind row.”

Quality over quantity

Ponds explains that the fish he is seeking is a loner, but a “sure nuff” keeper.

“Like I said this is a tournament pattern,” he said. “You are looking for a good solid bass, like a 3-pounder and up, and you aren’t likely to find them stacked up. But think about it, we’re talking the heat of the summer when a good day on the water is 10 to 15 keeper fish. We’re not talking about sitting on a school of fish on the surface, where you catch a lot of 12- to 15-inch fish. You can catch a bunch of those, sure. But if you want quality bites instead of quantity, go banging in the pockets or flats.”

Ponds said brushy piles are better than logs, since fish will not be relating to the bottom but prefer being suspended in the cover. Following that line of thinking, he prefers lures that mimic prey fish instead of bottom-dwelling crawfish or worms.

“In lakes where shad are the predominant prey fish, I will use the shad patterns in the 200 Bandit,” he said. “In lakes where bream are the prey, I use bluegill patterns, like the parrot/orange Bandit. There are some other considerations, like water clarity. The clearer the water, the lighter the color I will choose. The muddier or darker the water, the more I turn to brighter colors like chartreuse — just basic common sense.

“I still prefer fluorocarbon line, but since I am fishing heavy cover I usually get away from what I usually crank with, like 10- or 12-pound test and move up to 14-pound. My usual rule of thumb still applies and that is to use the lightest line I think I can get away with.”

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About Bobby Cleveland 1350 Articles
Bobby Cleveland has covered sports in Mississippi for over 40 years. A native of Hattiesburg and graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Cleveland lives on Ross Barnett Reservoir near Jackson with his wife Pam.

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