Most bass fanatics will only cast a lipless rattling crankbait in early spring over submerged grass. This tactic produced a good many bass during the 2020 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk at Lake Guntersville, including the bulk of the 42 pounds, 15 ounces, that Florida Elite Series pro Drew Cook weighed to claim 22nd place.
His strategy during the Classic was to snatch a 1/2-ounce Spro Aruku Shad lipless crankbait out of shallow grass in pockets and points leading into pockets. The difference between Cook and other anglers is that he doesn’t limit this type of bait to fishing submerged grass prior to the spawn.
“As soon as that bite’s over most guys put their rattling crankbaits back in a box and put the box on a shelf until next spring,” he said. “I’ve always got one tied on.”
He had one tied on while competing in the 2019 Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest at Lake Fork. The postspawn tournament took place in early May, and he found heavyweight bass relating to shell beds in less than 3 feet of water. He went to work chunking and winding a chrome black back 1/2-ounce Aruku Shad over the shell beds and finished sixth with 94 pounds, 1 ounce.
In the summertime he will wind and yo-yo a lipless crankbait over long tapering points as deep as 9 feet. Even when fishing ledges and other deeper structures offshore, he always has a rod with an Aruku Shad on deck.
“You can throw that bait a country mile,” he said. “When bass come up schooling, it’s a great bait to reach out and catch them.”
Seminole has long been one of Cook’s favorite stomping grounds for bass. He scores big with a lipless crankbait there in fall when grass mats die and uncover ditches 9 to 10 feet deep. The bass that relate to ditches that had been shielded by the mat no longer have a safe house. He gleefully picks them off with a lipless crankbait.
“Those bass haven’t seen any baits like that since they had that roof on top of them,” he said. “Most of the time a slow, steady retrieve that ticks the top of the grass growing on the bottom does the trick.”
Flats that have sparse grass and scattered stumps also yield bass to his rattling crankbaits. He has caught countless fish from stumps on Florida’s Talquin, his home lake. The stumps here are typically in 4 to 6 feet of water. Few anglers will fish a lipless crankbait in such an environment for fear of snagging.
“Everyone is so scared of hanging up,” he said. “But if the bait is running straight its head hits the cover and rolls over it like a squarebill crankbait. If you don’t set the hook when you hit the stump you’ll be fine. They’re going to bite it most of the time when it rolls off the stump.”