How to Catch Bass in November with Mark Davis
Day 1: Crankbaits Catch November Bass
Editor’s Note: Bass Pro Mark Davis of Mt. Ida, Arkansas, won the Bassmaster Classic in 1995 and has had five first-place finishes and 44 top-10 finishes. To help you catch fish this month, Davis shares how he catches bass in November.
The month of November is a great time to fish in the creeks with crankbaits. This time of the year, I like to fish creek-channel banks, rock banks or deep gravel banks. The crankbait works best when you fish with an interrupted retrieve. Cast parallel to the bank, and try to keep your crankbait in a 5- to 8-foot zone. Then pause it several times during the retrieve. Attempt to bump it in rocks, stumps and brush. Stop and start, crash and pause, pull and hesitate the bait. I believe a baitfish that stops or hesitates triggers a bass to strike and offers the bass an opportunity at a quick, easy meal.
In the fall, I prefer fishing with Strike King’s Series 3 Crankbaits. During this time of the year, bass feed on crawfish, so smaller baits catch more bass than bigger baits. Bigger crankbaits may catch a few bigger fish, but I’ve found at this time of year that big fish bite small crankbaits just as readily as little bass do. In clear water, I fish the crawfish-colored crankbait. If the water is stained, I fish a chartreuse-colored crankbait with a brown back.
I prefer to cast the crankbait on either 8- or 10-pound-test line with spinning tackle. You can get the crankbait deeper on lighter line, like 8-pound test. And, with spinning tackle, you can cast the crankbait further and keep it in the strike zone of the bass longer than you can on bait-casting tackle. Almost everyone fishes crankbaits on bait-casting tackle, but I have found that I get more strikes and catch more fish on spinning tackle. With spinning tackle, you can cast further and fish smaller crankbaits deeper than you can on bait-casting tackle. However, if you want to fish big crankbaits, and depth is not a consideration, then obviously you don’t need to fish spinning tackle. But if bites are hard to come by, I downsize my crankbait, use lighter line, make longer casts and fish with spinning tackle.
I like to use a medium-action spinning rod that has some bend in the middle of it. You don’t want a rod that’s so stiff that it tears the hooks out of a fish’s mouth when it takes the bait. The length of your rod needs to be about 6- to 6-1/2-feet long. Use a fairly-large-spool spinning reel with a large-line capacity that enables you to make long casts and has a fairly-slow retrieve ratio.
One mistake many crankbait fishermen make is that they try to set their hooks when bass take their crankbaits. That’s when they pull the bait away from the fish or tear the hooks out of the fish’s mouth. When a bass attacks a crankbait, he usually sets the hook himself. All you really need to do is tighten-up on the reel and use a steady retrieve to bring him in to your boat. Just speed-up your retrieve, lean back on the rod, and continue to wind. Remember that the harder you pull on the fish, the more likely he is to jump, shake his head and throw the lure. So, just keep pressure on the fish, and don’t try to pull him really hard. Keep minimal pressure on the fish once it hooks-up to the crankbait. You want to bring it to the boat gently. Once you get the fish close to the boat, keep your rod tip down in the water to prevent it from jumping. When I fish crankbaits in November, I don’t like for the water to be really cold. I like the water temperature to be between 48 to 58 degrees, with 55 degrees being about perfect.