Transitional banks — Whether it’s boulders to chunk rock, chunk rock to pea gravel or any other scenario, Crews notes that changes in bank composition appeal to a bass’ inherent affinity to variances. Anything different represents potential ambush spots, but there’s also a proximity point.
“A lot of times, transitional banks are associated with depth changes; you might go from a flatter bank to a steeper bank,” he said. “If the terrain changes, there’s usually a reason those types of rock change. It’s usually a depth change and that adds to the allure of that area.”
Crews sticks with the Spro Little John, but his color choice may vary. The shad colors work for most of winter, but as we move closer to the prespawn, he’ll switch to crawfish patterns like Spring Craw or in southern lakes, he’ll use Western Craw.
“As spring approaches, the fish definitely start to respond better to the reds and oranges,” Crews said. “Crawfish hibernate in winter and they come out of hibernation when the water reaches the 50s.
“The bass don’t have a temperature gauge, but when the water warms, they know the crawfish will come out of their holes.”
Similar to the riprap approach, Crews makes long casts parallel to the bank and uses a start-and-stop cadence to offer fish little windows of opportunity to get the bait on a pause.
Channel swing banks — Calling these the “pathways” for fish moving in and out of creeks, Crews expects to find fish staging on these deeper banks en route to their next move — particularly prespawn transitions. The fish may or may not be feeding, but these rest stops offer the comfort of deeper water and the ability to pin prey against a typically vertical bank.
“Most of the times, those channel swing banks are on the south side, so they’re not in the sun,” Crews said. “You get a shading factor, but that doesn’t matter because, even if a bank is shady all day long, they will still be on it in the prespawn.”
As Crews points out, the fish are more concerned about their seasonal movement than sky conditions. On the flipside, he’s fine with fishing a channel swing bank with no wind because the dimness of shaded water obscures his bait.
“I’ll use a Spro Little John MD on the channel swing banks because it gets down a little deeper,” he said. “A lot of times you’ll run into submerged laydowns and that bait comes through wood really well.
“If I can find a laydown or brush, I’ll leave that crankbait sitting there because it slowly floats up. That helps trigger more bites.”
Colors mimic those of the transitional banks, as does casting style. Good thing, Crews said, is that once you find fish on channel swing banks, that’s a replicable pattern you can run creek-to-creek.
Originally published in 2017.