bass, bass fishing, fishing

Photo by Joe Cermele

This month, Pickwick Lake guide and pro angler Jimmy ­Mason (jimmy​mason​ hits river-channel ledges to find huge schools of ravenous postspawn bass. These staircaselike dropoffs offer bass cozy digs with lots of chow as they transition from spawning flats to deeper summer haunts. Here’s how to get in on the action on your lake.

Stay Near the Nursery
To find the most fish, target ledges closest to the lake’s best spawning areas. “Look on your map and locate staircases that lead from shallow bays and flats down to deeper water,” says Mason. While ledges are the main deal, points, humps, and creek-channel bends near the mouths of shallow pockets and feeder creeks also concentrate fish, he adds.

Find Them Fast
Mason uses LakeMaster Contour Elite software to study lake maps on his laptop. Targeting ledges in 10 to 15 feet of water, he marks likely spots, then accesses the waypoints with his boat unit. “You can really increase your efficiency on the water by doing your homework. It eliminates a lot of looking time,” he says.

Mussel Up
On Pickwick and many other reservoirs, the biggest schools of bass favor ­hard-­bottom areas, especially mussel-shell beds. “I look for the sections along a ledge where there’s a sheer drop, steeper than 45 degrees. The current erodes the soft sediment here and piles up the harder sediment at the base, forming a high spot. That’s often where mussel beds form.”

Crank It
To cover water quickly, Mason casts crankbaits, which lure hungry bass and also draw reaction strikes from snoozing fish via vibration and a bottom-ticking intrusion. He likes a Bomber Fat Free Shad in No. 6. His favorite colors are foxy shad and citrus shad.

Take a Drag
When the crankbait bite dwindles, Mason mops up the area with a Carolina-rigged lizard or Yum Christie Critter in green pumpkin–purple flake, or watermelon–red flake. He rigs it on a 1-ounce bullet weight or two 1⁄2-ounce tungsten weights (wide ends opposing) for more noise. A 48-inch copolymer leader separates bait from bottom. “When the bass are lethargic, this is a tough bait to beat.”