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November Crankin’

The past several years I have written a blog about crankbait fishing for late-fall largemouth bass because this is one of the most reliable fishing patterns that I know about, and take advantage of, during late fall. As we get into very late fall and water temperatures plummet, so does the feeding activity of some fish species. However, largemouth bass, particularly when pursued using crankbaits, can still offer up good fishing in November.

My home area around Alexandria, MN has lots of lakes featuring prominent deep weedlines. Many have deep, clear waters that are prime for growing lush weeds during summer that are home to abundant largemouth bass populations. Weed growth in these lakes starts on shoreline flats and other shallow structure and extends down the drop-off edges of the structure. During early fall these weeds start to die and the process continues as fall progresses. As this progression happens, remaining “edge weeds” that are still green become the proverbial “spot on the spot” drawing baitfish and gamefish including bass, walleyes, and northern pike.

This scenario happens on lakes here in my home area and in those in other parts of the Midwest too. And when it does, it’s time to grab a crankbait rod and head to those weed edges searching for bass and the bonus fish roaming those areas as well.

Once on the lake my simple strategy involves holding the boat just out from the weed edge, using my trolling motor to parallel that edge, and making long angled casts ahead and to the weedline. I cast and move along the weed edge looking for bass and the presence of lush, green weeds.

Once a bass is caught or good weeds are located, I slow up and make several more casts as the fish are usually schooling now and it’s rare to only catch one in a spot.

My crankbait choices for this situation involve deep-diving baits that match the hatch mimicking the abundant sunfish and perch present in many weedline lakes. I have very good success with the baits in the Pro Model XD series. These lures are available in models that dive to various depths allowing me to select the proper bait for the water depth encountered. Plus, they come in several sunfish, bluegill, and perch patterns.

The Pro Model 3XD and 5XD baits in neon bluegill and chartreuse perch patterns are among my favorites because they run to the proper depths for many lakes I fish. The 3XD works well when the weedline is in the 10-to-12-foot depth range and the 5XD if it is a bit deeper.

Not only do the XD baits get the call for most of November crankin’, but Lew’s recently built an XD Cranking Series of rods with models designed for fishing the XD baits. These rods feature the perfect actions for fishing the various baits, plus they are very lightweight making them a pleasure to fish when throwing crankbaits for several hours. In addition, these new rods work well with other diving crankbaits too.

I pair the rods with BB1 Pro baitcast reels in a 6.2:1 gear ratio. These reels are go-to crankbait fishing reels for lots of anglers because they make long casts, are dependable, and are comfortable to fish with. I load them with 12-pound CONTRA Fluorocarbon. Fluorocarbon line allows crankbaits to reach their maximum running depths and has less stretch than some lines, making for more positive hooksets when fish bite at the end of long casts.

November is here and open-water fishing is starting to wind down. If you are looking for a few more days filled with hooksets, consider heading to your favorite bass lake with a crankbait rod in hand, and following some of the tips just presented. You’ll probably find some willing bass, with some pike and walleyes mixed in too!

Mike Frisch hosts the popular Fishing the Midwest TV series and is a co-founder of the ZEBCO School of Fish. Visit to see all things Fishing the Midwest.

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