Shallow Cranking in Postspawn with Cody Meyer

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by  Steve Reed

Geography is often a focal point when comparing the styles of fisherman, but on most occasions it’s used to illustrate differences rather than explain similarities. During Cody Meyer’s relatively young professional career he’s found that despite differences in tackle choices the general principles of bass fishing tend to hold true no matter where you go.

IMG_1391Where all professionals seem to differ, however are the experiences that lead them to those universal truths of bass fishing. One such technique is cranking; and for the purpose of this article shallow crankbaits.

The Tennessee River chain of lakes are among the most notorious for patterning fish with crankbaits and its bodies of water are home to the usual suspects. What makes the lakes so ideal for the erratic movements of the diving bait is the current produced by dropping or rising water caused by releases at the dam.

This causes bass to pull out of the shallow water and school up on the nearest deep water ledges where fish actively prey on easy meals. Relating this unique occurrence to other bodies of water seems impossible, but for FLW Professional Cody Meyer it’s reminiscent of his experience fishing the fluctuating water levels on California reservoirs.

As we approach the summer months most areas of the country are seeing their lakes and rivers receding either from natural drought or release of water. In contrast to the rising water that brings fish to the shore, the receding water instead pushes the fish away from the bank into deeper water. Meyer has found that when the fish start to move away from the visible cover provided by shallow cover the best approach is burning a shallow running crankbait.

Meyer starts his approach by turning his trolling motor on high, “covering water cannot be underestimated,” he continues, “I’m throwing a moving bait to locate active bass so I try to make as many casts as possible.”

IMG_1412When it comes to selecting water Meyer has two ideal situations for receding water bass. “I know that the bass are pulling away from the bank and the obvious visible cover, but they aren’t going too far,” said Meyer. “The ideal situation is where the piece of cover extends from the bank to about 5 feet of depth, that’s almost a sure thing.”

His first choice would be laydown trees that have a root system extended into the 5 foot depth range; usually these will be the first stop for bass that are descending away from the shore. Due to fish spreading out Meyer will throw the crankbait down an entire stretch of bank even if it holds just one laydown tree.

“The roots can spread out quite a bit, you have to realize the tree has numerous branches and some will extend to rocks or grass and create an additional ambush point that is otherwise overlooked,” he adds, “The fish are going to be active so they will roam around the area and aren’t always locked onto the structure.” Meyer will almost always fish 100 yards before and after his target in hopes of picking up a fish before he reaches his sweet spot.

IMG_1416His other target includes rip rap bank that extends into deeper water. “The same principle of the laydown applies to the rip rap banks. The fish can use the same cover in ultra shallow water into just a bit deeper water so they still feel comfortable and they will hang around,” he said. Meyer believes the best rip rap for fishing a crankbait will have an abrupt line where the rip rap ends and the normal bottom content emerges; that is the key spot to concentrate on.

His lure choice is a Jackall MC 60 for all shallow cranking, but his color choice follows two basic guidelines: first and foremost match the hatch and secondly water clarity. Meyer explains his selection process, “This time of year I start with the colors that look like a baby bass for fry, a bluegill for the bluegill spawn, and finally a shad for the shad spawn.”

With those three basic patterns he then uses the water clarity to decide the depth of the color he wants to use. The more stained the water the darker colors he uses, in contrast, he will opt for a more translucent finish in clearer water. Meyer believes that during the post spawn the fish do not like the rattle in the baits so he opts for the MC 60 exclusively during this period due to its dull sound similar to that of a wooden bait.

His tackle considerations determine how the action is imparted on the bait so he often has two setups. “Seventy-five percent of the time I will employ 12-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100%  Fluorocarbon because it allows the bait more freedom of motion,” he continues, “ the other twenty-five percent of the time I’m using 15-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100%  Fluorocarbon when I need to rip the bait through thick cover.” His rod and reel remain the same; a Powell 706cb rod and an Abu Garcia Revo Premier in 6:1 gear ratio.

IMG_1342Even while practicing last week on the the Red River in Shreveport, La. and has primarily used his Jackall MC 60 crankbait to locate and catch fish that are facing receding water. “The Red River is a perfect example of post spawn receding water and how bass can be caught. I’m able to watch the water dropping throughout the day, as much as six inches during my time on the water so the fish are backing off their normal shoreline position. They have since backed off into the stumps and larger rocks that are in four to six feet of depth and are spread out. I threw a hot tiger Jackall MC 60 crankbait the entire practice and during the event as well,” said Meyer.

Meyer adds that although many casts are necessary the precision on each cast to cover should not be overlooked. He believes different deflection angles can draw strikes from bass so multiple casts are imperative. He references Kevin Short’s Bassmaster Elite series win on Pickwick as an example of how important those deflection angles can be in triggering strikes, sometimes pitching the crankbait is necessary to achieve the desired result.