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Mike Frisch: Cold-water crankbaits

Casting crankbaits to the last remaining green weeds in lakes is a great way to get on bass and other fish species this time of year.

It seems every fall around this time I write a blog about crankbait fishing for late fall bass. How come? Well, two reasons. First, this is a very reliable pattern at this time and, second, it is a very enjoyable way to catch!

I am privileged to have lots of “bassy” lakes near my home in the Alexandria, Minnesota area. Many of these lakes feature prominent deep weedlines. The lakes have deep, clear waters that are prime for growing lush weeds that are home to abundant largemouth bass populations.

The weeds in these lakes grow on shoreline flats and shallow main-lake structure like sunken islands and extend down the drop-off edges of these flats and islands. The weeds on the flats die during early fall and any remaining “edge weeds” that are still green and living draw baitfish and gamefish including bass, walleyes, and northern pike.

This scenario happens on lakes here in Minnesota and in many other parts of the Midwest too. When the weeds begin to die in earnest, it’s time to grab a crankbait rod and head to those weed edges searching for bass and other “bonus” fish roaming those areas.

I favor a simple strategy when I hit the lake, merely holding the boat just out from the weed edge, using my trolling motor to parallel that edge, and making angled casts ahead and to the weedline. I am casting my crankbait and moving along looking for bass and also the presence of lush, green weeds.


When a bass is caught or promising weeds are found, I slow up and strain the area with several more casts as the fish are often schooled up during this time and it’s rare to only catch one from a spot.

Deep-diving crankbaits that “match the hatch” mimicking the abundant sunfish and perch present in many lakes along the weedlines are top producers when using this pattern. I like those in the Pro Model XD series as these baits are available in models that dive to various depths and come in several sunfish, bluegill, and perch patterns.

The Pro Model 3XD and 5XD baits in neon bluegill and yellow perch patterns are my favorites. I use the 3XD when the weedline is in the 10-to-12-foot depth range and the 5XD if it is a bit deeper.

I throw these baits on baitcasting rods paired with reels loaded with 10 or 12 pound Tour Grade Fluorocarbon. Fluorocarbon line allows crankbaits to reach their maximum running depths and has less stretch than some lines, facilitating positive hooksets when fish bite at the end of long casts. Also, fluorocarbon has very low visibility so clear-water bass aren’t spooked by its presence.

My rod choice for casting crankbaits is the CC4 model in the new KVD series as this rod is specifically made for casting these style baits. Paired with a matching KVD baticast reel, this combination does a nice job when cranking the weedlines.

If finding open-water fishing success is part of your plans yet this fall, consider heading to the deep weedline of your favorite bass lake and employing some of the ideas just presented. You’ll probably find some willing bass and maybe a big pike or walleye too!

As always, good luck on the water and remember to include a youngster in your next outdoors adventure!


Mike Frisch

Mike Frisch hosts the popular Fishing the Midwest TV series. Visit Fishing the Midwest at www.fishingthemidwest.com .

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