Anglers who’d rather fool fish with lures than feed them with live bait might tie on a dependable, easy to use crank bait.
These lures tempt black bass, walleye and crappie with their wiggling dance as they move below the surface at the end of a fisherman’s line. Most tackle boxes hold a nice assortment of crank baits in several colors and sizes.
Some are shallow divers that run only two or three feet under the surface. Others can reach depths of 20 feet. Most common are medium divers that run six to 12 feet deep.
Any angler can cast a crank bait, from beginners to professionals like Greg Bohannan of Bentonville. He’s been a bass tournament pro for years and competes on the Major League Fishing pro circuit.
“March and December are the two best months for using a crank bait on Beaver Lake,” he said. Water temperatures in the upper 40s to the high 50s are ideal for catching black bass with crank baits on the big reservoir.
“You could be surprised how shallow those fish can be. Anywhere from a foot deep down to eight feet,” Bohannan added.
His profile on the Major League Fishing website describes Bohannan as “a power fisherman who likes to throw a crank bait.” He keeps a variety of baits ready to use that will cover all depths and water clarity.
On Ozark lakes, shorelines that transition from bluffs to gravel or rocky banks are prime spots for using a crank bait, he said. Points and any rocky shoreline is worth a cast.
“At Beaver, a lure that has some red on it is good. Even solid red or a red craw color. That red craw is really good when the water is a little bit stained,” he said.
In clear water, as found on the north end of Beaver Lake, Bohannan prefers a brown craw color with a touch of red somewhere on the lure. Beaver Lake can get downright muddy after a flood event. He’ll use a fire tiger color in muddy water. Fire tiger is basically chartreuse with some black lines or zigzags on the side of the lure.
Any rod and reel set-up can be used to cast crank baits. Seasoned anglers like Bohannan own rods specifically designed for crank-bait fishing. They’re longer than most rods, up to eight feet long. The length lets anglers make super long casts. Bohannan’s crank bait rods are 7 feet, 6 inches long. He ties his crank baits to 12-pound test fluorocarbon line.
Trolling with crank baits is a great way to catch walleye during early spring and crappie in the summer. Walleye spawn in the White and War Eagle tributaries in late March and early April. Trolling with crank baits is a go-to technique for spring walleye fishing in the tributaries.
When the water heats up in summer at Beaver Lake, trolling medium-diving crank baits in creek arms is a good way to catch crappie.
Crank baits aren’t just for big water. David Powell keeps tabs on the fishing at Lake Fayetteville while helping out at the lake office. A crank bait with some red in the color scheme is also good there, as it is at Beaver, Powell coached.
Kenny Stroud keeps an ear on the action at Swepco Lake near Gentry. Crank baits in shad or bluegill colors are good there, Stroud said. Swepco is a power-plant lake that stays warm even in winter with hot-water discharges from the Flint Creek Power Plant situated on the eastern shoreline. Water from the lake is used in electricity production at the power plant.
At lakes large and small, casting a crank bait is a good way to fool a fish into biting.
Catch a limit
Cast a crank bait and walleye, crappie or black bass may come to call. Here are the limits on each at Beaver Lake.
•Walleye: Daily limit is four. Walleye must be 18 inches or longer to keep.
• Crappie: Daily limit is 15. Crappie must be 10 inches or longer to keep.
• Black bass: Daily limit is six. The six-fish limit may contain largemouth, smallmouth or spotted bass, which are the three species of black bass. Largemouth bass and smallmouth bass must be 15 inches or longer to keep. Spotted bass of any length may be kept.