Guest Column–Cliff Crochet Speed Kills

Bucks Skeeter Yamaha

story and photos courtesy J.D. Blackburn – Pro Fishing Management

Bassmaster Elite Series angler Cliff Crochet has seen some grizzly sights as a deputy sheriff in Assumption Parrish, LA. While not fishing on tour he is a civil servant, assigned to protect and defend his local community. When he gets a call over the police radio from an excited dispatcher reporting a wreck with serious injuries, it always raises concern. “When I pull up to the scene of an accident I know in the back of my mind that what I find may affect the victims, and me, for life.”

Crochet stresses driving at a safe speed to teenagers learning to drive and urges experienced drivers to avoid speeding that can arise out of complacency. “It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve driven on a road before, the circumstances are always going to change and you must pay attention. We can all get in too big of a hurry and forget to obey the posted speed limits.

Those limits are set based on visibility, traffic stats and old fashioned common sense to protect everyone in the area. They are not set to make people late to appointments or get home late. Safety is what limits are there for and they must be respected.”

Besides alcohol, speed is the biggest factor in accidents on the highways Crochet patrols. “I’m afraid that speeding is almost a socially accepted, macho deal and that is a very big problem in my opinion. Compounding the issue is speeding while pulling a boat. If you are pulling a boat you should really go slower than the posted limits.”

As a pro angler, Crochet knows a little bit about speed control on the water as well. The speed at which he retrieves reaction baits like spinnerbaits, shallow crankbaits, Rat-L-Traps and buzz baits can be one of the keys to a successful day. Knowing when to dial back the throttle is also crucial, too.
“If there were speed limit signs on the packaging for these lures I would go ahead and tell you to break them. I always start by fishing these lures as fast as possible. You can always slow down but you could be off and running to a great day of fishing by fishing them fast.”

Here are some quick pointers from Crochet for fishing reaction baits:
> When fishing spinnerbaits, downsizing the blades allows for a faster retrieve due to less drag on the lure, even in stained or muddy water.
> He opts for a 3/8-ounce spinnerbait for speedy retrieves and 1/2-ounce version when fishing grass and rocky banks.
> When situations call for a slower, natural presentation, he picks up his frog or jig rod. “Treat it like you are in a school zone when throwing a frog and flipping,” he says. “A lot of folks fish a frog and flip entirely too fast.

While there is an aspect of reaction involved in these techniques, if you get in too big of a hurry you will miss a lot of big fish.”

Gear-wise, Crochet has thrown Humdinger spinnerbaits and buzzbaits since learning to fish. For flipping, his go-to bait is another Louisiana standby – the K2 Craw from Honey Bunny Baits paired with a 5/0 Gamakatsu hook and either 1/2- or 5/8-ounce Reins Tungsten weight. Dean Rojas frogs from SPRO get Crochet’s nod for frog fishing. His favorite Rat-L-Trap is chrome and blue and for shallow cranking, he opts for a Bagley Balsa B. He throws everything on high-speed Ardent Edge Elite reels paired with a sturdy Falcon Rod. Power-Poles are also critical for effective frogging and flipping, he said.

“I wouldn’t fish without Power Poles, period,” he said. “They let you fish quietly and really focus on areas where the cover is heavy and boat control is crucial.”

These tips should help you take your retrieve speeds to another level the next time you hit the lake. “Just don’t get in too big of a hurry on your way to the ramp!” Crochet warns.