Deep-diving crankbaits and plastic worms are summer’s go-to baits
Sardis Reservoir in Lafayette, Panola and Marshall counties has made a comeback in the numbers of big bass it’s producing. I consider Sardis a structure lake, and its best summer pattern is ledge fishing.
I have three favorite lures I use in July at Sardis. If the bass stop biting any one of these lures, I can cast another to catch more bass out of the same spot before moving on to another school.
I like a deep-diving crankbait like a Mann’s 20+ in a gray ghost or green/ chartreuse with a green back, aka Homer color. I’ll fish with a 7-foot-6, medium-action FX Custom rod with 14-pound test White Peacock fluorocarbon and a 6.2:1 ELS Bruin reel. River ledges and main-lake points with sharp drop-offs on sloping underwater points will be my focus from mid-lake to the dam.
I’ll fish these same areas with a Carolina-rigged plastic worm with 50-pound bass braid on a 5.3:1 ELS Bruin reel. I’ll slide a 1-ounce weight up the main line, attach the main line to a barrel swivel and tie a 28-pound monofilament leader to the swivel’s other eye. To the tag end of the leader, I’ll attach a 6/0 wide-gap hook with a Mann’s jelly worm in watermelon red, rigged Texas-style.
I’ll fish a drop-shot rig on a spinning outfit with 15-pound bass braid and a 6-foot leader of fluorocarbon. I’ll thread a 6-inch Mann’s jelly worm in junebug onto my drop-shot hook and have a ¼-ounce drop-shot weight on the end of the line.
I’ll cast crankbaits perpendicular to where the creeks and ditches drop off into the main river channel. Next, I’ll fish parallel, up and down the same ledges, about 100 yards on either side of the creeks and the ditches. These cuts generally have stumps or places with hard bottoms.
You may pinpoint large schools of bass holding on these places that won’t bite or have quit biting crankbaits. That’s when I move to the Carolina or drop-shot rigs. If you can get one bass to take any of these baits, usually other bass start biting.
I look for bass and schools of baitfish with the ClearVU and SideVu features of Garmin’s LiveScope. I’ll use these tools to study the underwater points and mark the locations of the stumps and schools of bass I see holding on these points and then fish there. If I find a school of bass that isn’t biting, I’ll leave it, check another school I have located and come back to the first school later. Since Sardis isn’t a big reservoir, once the bass set up on these underwater points, they’ll generally stay where you can find them all summer long.
If you see schools of shad up near the surface or bass feeding on them, cast a walking bait like the Zara Spook to the outer edges of the shad. The bass will come to the surface to attack it. I fish the Zara Spook on an 8.1:1 reel with 28-pound mono on a 6-foot-9, medium-action FX Custom rod.
Another tool I use to bring a school of bass to the surface is my Hydrowave — a device that sends out baitfish sounds underwater. Once the bass hear those sounds and spot the baitfish and/or the Zara Spook moving on the surface, they’ll start feeding actively.
Because I know bass will be holding on the same underwater points throughout the summer’s heat, I’ll make several successful trips to Sardis before the cooler weather occurs in the fall.