Elite Series angler Russ Lane won the first postseason event during the 2010 Toyota Trucks Championship Week on Lake Jordan by cranking deep schools of bass holding on river ledges. What really made the difference for him, however, was his ability to take nearly every fish from the school. He calls that cleaning 'em up.
Here, in his own words, is how he does it:
1. Start by throwing the bait you think will work best. I like to start with natural colors and no rattle most of the time. If the water is dirty, you might try something with more flash and noise, but be careful. You don't want to spook them and have them scattered all over the lake.
2. It's essential that you know the running depths of your lures with various line weights. You want your bait to bounce along the bottom. You don't want it to dig into the bottom, however. This requires precise depth control.
3. If you catch a few bass, but then the bite suddenly stops, change baits and move around the school. Make at least one complete circle with your original lure, casting from every angle you can imagine. Then change lures and make two or three more circles.
I can't tell you how many times I've caught four or five keepers and then, after the bite went dead, I was able to catch several more good ones by simply changing colors on the same lure, throwing a bait with or without a rattle (whichever is different), changing the brand and model of my crankbait or changing the direction of my retrieve.
4. My basic deep, summertime crankbait selection consists of a Norman DD22, a Bomber Fat Free Shad, a Strike King Pro-Model Series 6XD and a Spro Little John. I carry a shad color in each along with at least two others one flashy and bright, one dark and muted.
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5. Once I'm satisfied that I've worn the crankbait bite out, I switch to jigs and plastics and follow exactly the same pattern. I change colors, styles and angles until I've covered every inch of water with at least two baits three is better.
6. Drag your jig or plastic slowly across the bottom at first. Don't get wild or crazy until you know that soft and subtle isn't going to work. (Contrary to what some anglers think, you can spook deep bass, especially if you've been working them for a while.)
7. I start with a 3/4-ounce Buckeye Lures Football Jig with a Big Bite Dean Rojas Signature Series Fighting Frog as a trailer. Occasionally I'll alternate that with a Big Bite Jeff Kriet Signature Series Squirrel Tail Worm. I like green pumpkin and plum apple colors. After that, I look for something bright and something dark, as well as something that'll give them a completely different look.
8. While you're fishing the school, keep a sharp eye on your electronics. Oftentimes a fighting bass will pull the school toward your boat. You think they're gone, but they're actually right under you. If that happens, move your boat into shallow water and cast out deep. Fish toward your original sweet spot. They'll follow.
These principles aren't hard to follow, but they are important. It makes no sense to move off fish until you've caught and culled all the bass a spot has to offer, and it certainly makes no sense to leave fish for the other guy. This is a competitive sport after all.