Power Cranking SPRO Rock Crawlers for Cold Water Bass

Bass fishing legend Mike McClelland dives deep into the when, where, and how of crankbait fishing winter bass on highland reservoirs. Although squarely winter when filmed on Table Rock, this content is relevant anytime bass relate to shoreline rock and wood when water temperatures drop into the lower 50s and below. While often consolidated in cold water, you still need to find the bass, and a crankbait is an efficient search bait for combing shoreline stretches, points, and channel swings. Here’s how.

TACKLE USED (retail links)

FINDING THE RIGHT SPOT

McClelland emphasizes the importance of location when pursuing winter bass. Sure, there are abundant opportunities for “scoping” suspended offshore bass on baits like blade baits and damiki rigs, but beating the bank with a crankbait can be just as effective and HOW you want to catch them. He starts by exploring areas that offer a mix of features – from channel swing banks to transitional areas leading to flatter gravel pockets. This locational flexibility helps you find and pattern bass daily in winter. As McClelland attests, bass remain active in the winter, so productive spots can shift as conditions change; think baitfish, water temperature, and light and weather variation.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT CRANKBAIT

A key focus of the video is selecting the best crankbait for varying conditions. McClelland has been a longtime fan of the versatile SPRO Rock Crawer lineup (spelled RkCrawler) for its proven fish-triggering hunting action and ability to snake through cover with minimal fowling. It’s also available in various running depths, colors, and even sizes, so you can adjust to the conditions. On this day, McClelland opted for the RkCrawler 55, which nailed the 12- to 14-foot zone the bass were holding. He discusses the significance of matching line size to the desired depth and crankbait action, emphasizing using 10- or 12-pound fluorocarbon or shifting to monofilament when bites are highly tentative.

EFFECTIVE COLD WATER CRANKING

McClelland demonstrates effective crankbait techniques, such as ensuring the bait hits the bottom and adjusting your retrieve to trigger lethargic winter bass. Don’t get into the habit of casting and winding without speed changes and making deflections! He also shares observations on fish behavior during winter, noting their tendency to feed on crawfish and the impact of water clarity and light conditions on bait selection — these factors make color a critical factor, so keep an open mind and constantly experiment.

FISH FINDER & MISC.
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