Fishing tips: Summer crankbait bass fishing Lake Toho & Winter Haven Chain of Lakes
One of the most overlooked techniques for summer bass fishing in Central Florida is fishing with crankbaits. It is highly effective on lakes all over Central Florida from The Bulter Chain of Lakes in Orlando, to Kissimmee's Lake Toho, on Lake Kissimmee itself, to the many deeper lakes in the Winter Haven Chain of Lakes.
Pictured below is my favorite set-up for the clear spring fed lakes in downtown Winter Haven & near LEGOLAND Florida. It is a Grandt 7'0" XLH70 Med w/ Reserve Power rod paired with a Lew's Speed Spool 6.4:1 and Trilene XT 10lb green mono. I'll bet that more than one person rolled their eyes when I mentioned 10# mono but I'll explain why it is so important. First, I'm fishing clear spring-fed lakes in 10-28 feet of water. Second, I'm fishing over deep hydrilla and eel grass, not timber. And third, because these fish are so line-shy from the heavy pressure, I'll out catch 95% of those that are using heavier line, even fluorocarbon. I know first-hand because I used to fish heavier line and was getting schooled big time by an "old-timer" who later told me to downsize like he does... and I immediately started catching as many fish as him.
As for bait selection in these cleaner lakes I really prefer to choose baits in natural colors and patterns. I'll drop the Minn Kota Ulterra to silently cruise the area and use my Lowrance HDS9 Gen3 Touch with side imaging to find what depth the bait and bass are holding. Typically, especially in the summer, the bass will be suspended on the bottom half of the bait ball. Myself, and my clients, have better success when we are running our baits in the upper half of the bait column. We're essentially making the bass come up to bite as those will be the more aggressive fish, which can often times get the inactive fish to "wake-up" and decide that they don't want to miss out on the action.
Now when I'm over on The Kissimmee Chain - fishing either Lake Toho or Lake Kissimmee - in dirtier water with thicker vegetation I change things up and go with heavier line and tackle. I use a Grandt 6'6" XC166MH paired with a Lew's Speed Spool 6.4:1, but I'll spool it with Seaguar 15lb fluorocarbon. I use the heavier rod and line for several reasons. Most often I'm throwing Rat-L-Traps or Strike King Red Eye Shads over hydrilla and eel grass but normally it's in less than 6 feet of water. The heavier set-up allows me to both rip the bait cleanly out of the grass, and it also allows me to control a big fish easier. Plus I have more power to try to keep them from submarining into the thick jungle down below.
My first color of choice for these lipless crankbaits is a gold Tennessee shad pattern which in the darker Florida Black Water can look like a native wild shiner, a brim or a shell cracker. The next choice would be a chrome blue or black back pattern.
Hopefully, these tips will encourage you to try a crankbait in the summer and enjoy the fantastic summer bass fishing that Central Florida has to offer.
Capt. Scott Taylor - TMC Guide Services, llc Your Florida Bass Fishing Vacation Guide Service
855-FL-GUIDE (855-354-8433) or Scott@TMCGuideService.com
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