Rout the Drought

Parts of the country are experiencing record high temperatures this summer and water levels are falling rapidly. The places that produced good bass at this time last year are now high and dry. I've been getting a lot of questions from anglers about how to catch good bass under these conditions, and the answer might surprise you.

A lot of guys would tell you that you have to go deep to catch bass when the weather's unbearably hot and water levels are falling, but that's just not true. This summer, I've been catching plenty of good bass in shallow water using some unconventional tactics.

Earlier this summer, I started noticing lots of crawfish in the shallows. It seems like the water may be dropping, but the crawfish are holding in the very same areas that they always do. It's important because the bass are staying with them since they're such a great food source.

My favorite bait this summer has been the Berkley Chigger Craw. It's the same lure my friend, Boyd Duckett, used to win the Bassmaster Classic back in February, and it's still catching fish in August and September. It's an incredibly versatile lure. You can flip it, pitch it, Texas rig it, Carolina rig it, drop shot it, use it as a trailer — anything!

This summer, I've been Texas rigging a green pumpkin Chigger Craw (I like to dip the legs in red or orange dye) with a 1/8-ounce sinker that I peg to the head of the bait. I fish it on 17-pound-test Berkley 100% Fluorocarbon on a 7-foot medium-heavy Quantum Tour Edition casting rod and Quantum 1170 PT casting reel with a 7:1 gear ratio.

Even though the sinker's not very heavy, I can still make a long cast with the bait because it's so big and bulky, and long casts are important because I'm targeting bass that are holding on sparse cover in very shallow water. If you get too close, they'll spook, and you'll never catch them.

After I've made a long cast, I get the bait moving fast. I'm not fishing it like a jig or conventional craw. I'm reeling it fast — like a spinnerbait — so the legs on the

Chigger Craw start flapping around like crazy. You can feel it through your rod tip. It's a lot like a spinnerbait with Colorado blades, but it's an entirely different look that the bass haven't seen before.

Some days, I'll get bit just by cranking the Chigger Craw steadily, but at other times, I'll kill the lure when it gets to the cover and let it fall to the bottom. From there, if I don't get a bite on the fall, I'll twitch it a time or two before I crank it fast again.

It's a great technique for hot weather when the bass are shallow and skittish.


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