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Day On The Lake with Kevin Short

2/7/2009

"Day On The Lake" airs every Saturday at 8:00 a.m. ET on ESPN2.

• Click here to read Kevin Short's unique take on his day fishing Lake Monticello.

The concept behind "Day On The Lake" is to put a Bassmaster Elite Series pro on a completely unfamiliar lake and see if he can find fish in a limited amount of time.

This weekend's episode features Bassmaster Elite Series pro and ESPN Outdoors contributer Kevin Short, who finds himself on 1,500-acre Lake Monticello, a clear lake in south-central Arkansas filled with submerged and standing timber and lilypads, in early fall.

Short's day revolved around throwing a crankbait through the wood-covered flats adjacent to creek channels in a major feeder creek on the lake. After his day on Lake Monticello, he was kind enough to share a few tips regarding crankbait fishing.

At Lake Monticello, Short would position him boat along the creek channel and cast at a 45-degree angle up onto the flat. His retrieve would take the crankbait through areas of flooded timber and then down the edges of the channel.

The primary baits he employed was a Strike King Sexy Shad Series 5 crankbait and a Norman's DD14 in rootbeer. The Norman's was a great bait for deflecting off of wood because it was buoyant enough to back up after diving down into the stumps and laydowns, which reduced the number of snags that Short had to retrieve.

For general crankbaiting, there are three primary colors that he focuses on. As Short described it, it is more about contrast between the colors than the colors themselves.

The contrast between the chartreuse and black of a crankbait makes it his primary choice for dirty water. At the opposite extreme would be a color like Strike King's sexy shad, which has very little contrast between the grays and the whites. Somewhere in the middle for Short, would be a chartreuse and blue crankbait, which covers that middle ground of contrast.

Short did throw out a wildcard color, red, which he says is a great color for early spring or late fall.

"Something like Chili Bowl, an orange body with red sides and a dark, olive green back," Short said. "That is a crankbait I will throw anytime really except for during the summer when I will focus on the shad colors."

What are the idea conditions to throw a crankbait?

"Really, this day I was on Lake Monticello was a perfect day to be tossing that crankbait," Short said. "I just don't know what happened to me."

A cloudy day in the fall with a little bit of wind and Short seemed to think that most anglers should get bit with a crankbait.

The real key in throwing a crankbait is the line size. As an avid crankbait fisherman, Short has spent considerable time testing the best line for getting the maximum depth out of his crankbaits when needed.

"There is a lake right by my house that I have been playing around with lately," Short said. "What I found was that I can take the same plug, which is made by a friend of mine that specializes in balsa crankbaits, and put it on 8-pound test Viscious fluorocarbon, and I can cast it farther and get the bait to dive considerably deeper that heavier line."

The situation lent itself perfectly to such a test. Short had mapped an underwater bridge that crossed a creek channel. The top of the bridge was sitting in 22 feet of water. The bridge had a guardrail on it that Short estimated came up to around 18.5-19 feet.

With 8-pound test and a long cast, Short could hit the road in 22 feet of water.

"Mind you, this is a guy that knows how to build crankbaits," Short said. "This isn't one that comes out of a box."

With 10-pound line and the same length cast, Short would just barely clip the guardrail in 18-19 feet of water. At his final test with 12-pound line, he couldn't even feel anything. That is a serious difference in diving depths for a seemingly small change in line size.

As for the idea stick to fling crankbaits, Short has settled into a routine with one rod and doesn't use anything else.

"All my crankbaits and reaction baits I throw on my St. Croix 7-foot Premier Glass rod," Short said. "That's all I use for anything with a bill and treble hooks. I'm really comfortable with that rod. It is all fiberglass and for me, it is the perfect action for a crankbait rod."

The last word of advice that Short wanted to leave eager crankbait fans was that if an angler really wants to get into the groove of fishing a crankbait, they need to go out on the water and just spend time learning each bait. That means taking just one at a time and fishing it on different rods, through different cover and getting a feel for the way it runs and how deep it dives, how it deflects off of cover and how it casts.

"I spent time throwing one particular crankbait a few years back and it got to the point where I could find fish on any lake that would bite that crankbait," Short said. "They may not have always been the size that I wanted, but the bottom line was my knowledge and confidence in that bait helped me catch more fish."

• Click here to read Kevin Short's unique take on his day fishing Lake Monticello.

• For "Day On The Lake" photo galleries, click here.

"Day On The Lake" airs every Saturday at 8:00 a.m. ET on ESPN2.