Yamaha Pro Mark Menendez Likes Crankbaits for Early Winter Bass
Living on Kentucky Lake as he does, where crankbaits probably catch more bass than any other lure, it’s easy to understand why Yamaha pro Mark Menendez always has dozens of the diving plugs in his boat, even now as water temperatures are getting colder. In fact, early winter is one of his favorite crankbait seasons.
“This time of year on lakes throughout the country, there are really only two major fishing patterns anglers need to look for, and both involve crankbaits,” smiles Menendez, a five-time qualifier for the Bassmaster Classic®. “A fisherman can follow a major creek channel from its mouth back toward its headwaters looking for shallow water fish in the four to five-foot range; or he can stay in the first third of that tributary and fish out into the main lake looking for bass in 10 to 15-foot depths.
“Crankbaits are effective because different models dive to different depths all the way down to nearly 20 feet, and they allow you to cover the water quickly.”
Menendez prefers fishing near the mouths of the tributaries or in the main lake itself, where he concentrates on points or flats adjacent to deep water. Because winter bass seem to want to move vertically rather than horizontally to find their comfort levels or to feed, he works his crankbaits right along the steeper vertical edges, or breaklines of the points and flats.
“I don’t stay in deep water and cast up on the point, nor do I move up on the point and cast deep,” the Yamaha angler explains. “Instead, I really like to retrieve my lures along the break itself. There will be a lot of bass deeper than the crankbait will dive, but I’m not concerned with those fish. I’m looking for transient bass that haven’t moved to deep winter structure, and they’ll be along those steep depth changes. Bass move deeper in stages, so it’s possible to find them in various depths, depending on the structure itself.”