A crankbait or bass jig fished during the right conditions can wreak havoc on a variety of feeding species during this time, as walleye, catfish, drum and other deeper-water fish move into sometimes a couple of feet of water or less to fuel up for winter.
The air temperatures have bounced back and forth between cool, crisp, fall-like weather and hot, humid, summer-like weather in the past few weeks, leaving the area where we previously caught fish last fall still covered with weeds that make running crankbaits from shore impractical, but a nearby spot has afforded me some good fishing, most recently when I hooked into a school of smallmouth near a dropoff — my first time catching smallmouth, as a matter of fact.
This past week, I hit the same spot for a quick fishing trip that saw slightly warmer temperatures despite a gray, overcast sky above. I brought with me two poles, a medium-heavy action Berkley Cherrywood HD rod rigged with a Z-Man CrosseyeZ Power Finesse bass jig— on Sufix 832 50-pound braided line with a Sufix Invisiline 17-pound fluorocarbon leader — and my main finesse setup, a lighter-action version of the Cherrywood rigged with a Ned Rig on a 10-pound Yo-Zuri fluorocarbon leader attached to 10-pound Sufix Performance Braid main line in Hi-Vis Yellow.
Despite the success I’d had previously throwing the Ned Rig in that spot, I decided to go with the heavier setup because I had a new trailer I wanted to try out on my CrosseyeZ jig.
The Googan Squad is a group of five highly popular fishing YouTubers — their individual YouTube handles are Jon B, APBassing, FLAIR, LakeForkGuy and LunkersTV — who put out a new line of baits on July 4 called Googan Baits. The lineup consisted of six different types of bass baits — the Krackin’ Craw, Bandito Bug, Trench Hawg, Slim Shake, 10-inch Mondo Worm and the Drag-N-Drop — and all six baits were sold out in under 30 minutes upon its launch. Needless to say, demand has been high for the baits and they’ve had a difficult time keeping them in stock, but I managed to get my hands on a bag of the Krackin’ Craws and a bag of the Drag-N-Drops (after a month’s wait) and decided to try the Krackin’ Craws out as a bass jig trailer.
The lures come in a plastic shell inside the bag to keep all the scent and juices — slaunch sauce, as it’s marketed — on the baits, and it does a good job of that. My hands were slick with residue after putting the plastic bait on the hook. The Krackin’ Craws have a long tail that’s good if you’re using a 5/0 or 6/0 bass hook and Texas rigging it with a bullet weight, but is a bit cumbersome on a bass jig. I cut a lot of the tail off to give my bass jig a more compact presentation and ensure a better hook-up rate, and it indeed made for a good-looking setup.
The claws on the Googan lure have raised ridges that help displace water and kick up dirt when you jerk the bait through the water, and the black with blue fleck coloring that I had ordered was perfect for a choppy, overcast day. They offer several more color patterns that I found intriguing — namely the Alabama craw color, which features a natural-looking greenish brown top side and a bright orange bottom, and the summer craw pattern, which is green-pumpkin on the top side and more of a chartreuse on the bottom — but at $5.99 a bag, I’m not going overboard with my purchases just yet.
I had cast off to the far right, hoping a fish was sitting near the grass at the edge of the shore, as the choppy waters were slamming into the rocky shoreline and likely stirring up smaller crustaceans and plankton and bringing in the rest of the food chain. I slowly worked it past the patch of grass, when all of a sudden my line went taut and a huge tail slapped the surface of the water repeatedly. My first thought was a big catfish, as I had previously caught a cat hiding near the bank in these conditions and it even rolled like a catfish would, but I soon got a glimpse of its side and saw it was actually a freshwater drum doing all that rolling.
Huh... drum roll.
I tried to bring the big fish over to a rocky clearing where I could pick him up, but he didn’t want to go that direction, so I used the slick, wave-washed grass on the sloping bank in front of me to pull the hefty beast up the bank and to my feet.
I don’t have much experience catching drum — I thought it was my first one, but my dad later told me I had caught a couple when I was 5 years old, including a 5-pounder, but just couldn’t remember — so I couldn’t tell you exactly how much it weighed without my scale, which I’d left in the truck. It felt pretty heavy though, and my initial guess was 6 to 7 pounds, maybe even 8. I compared it to my rod and later measured the length with a tape measurer, and the fish was approximately 20 inches long — so not quite as big as the behemoth Handy had caught almost a year ago to the day, but it was still a good-sized fish.
I walked down to the clearing and released the fish back into the churned-up waters. He had taken my Googan trailer, and the rest were back in the truck, as well, so I switched to my Ned Rig. I had one bite but no luck with the Ned, eventually breaking off on a rock or log.
I left after about an hour of fishing but was pleased as punch with the big lunker I’d pulled from the notoriously hit-or-miss lake. Most of my successful trips there, I’ll catch one or two big fish and nothing small- or medium-sized, so to get it done in an hour was pretty good.
Obviously, the Googan Bait must have looked pretty good in the water, so I’m tentatively approving it as a worthwhile lure. It was easy to tear, which after fishing with Z-Man’s ElaZtech products comes as a disappointment, but the heavy scent and realistic look make it noteworthy as a nice bass jig trailer.
I’m also a believer in the CrosseyeZ jig after dragging that big fish up the bank with no problems. The hookset was perfect, right in the roof of the mouth, and there was no bending in the hook. If it can hold up to that hefty drum rolling around, you won’t have to worry about a big bass getting off.
To pick up your own Googan Baits, you can order them online at http://www.googanbaits.com, or through several other online retailers. Mystery Tackle Box club members can order the lures at a reduced price of $4.19 at http://www.shopkarls.com/. The CrosseyeZ Power Finesse bass jig can be purchased at http://www.zmanfishing.com/.