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Locating Deep-Water Bass

Mark DavisEditor's Note: Thirty-eight-year-old Mark Davis from Mount Ida, Arkansas, has fished professionally for 17 years. He won the BASS Masters Classic in 1995 has won three Angler-of-the-Year titles and ranks as the No. 2 angler in the world on BassFan.com.

Question: How do you find deep-water bass?

Answer: To find deep-water fish, you need to cover water efficiently. A depth finder won't locate the bass for you, although it will help you find the fish, the structure and the cover. But ultimately, you have to find those fish with a rod and reel.

Question: What do you think will be the winning pattern or patterns and why?

Answer: The winning pattern on Lay Lake will depend heavily upon the water conditions, such as the dissolved-oxygen levels. Early in the summer in most lakes with plenty of oxygen in deep water, the fish will tend to gravitate to that deeper water. Then as the summer wears on, the oxygen level will become low, and the fish have to come back to shallow water to survive. When that happens, bass fishing turns into a shallow-water game. You'd think the hotter the weather, the deeper the fish get, but actually that's only true to a point. When the weather gets too hot, and that dissolved-oxygen level drops, the bass will return to shallow water.

Mark DavisQuestion: What lures do you use when you fish for deep-water bass.

Answer: When I fish down to about 18 feet or less, I'll fish a crankbait. If I only can choose one crankbait, I'll use a Strike King Series V crankbait. By changing my line size and the length of my cast, I can fish this bait from 5 to 12 feet with great success. That depth encompasses a lot of bass fishing. I like to use the watermelon shad color, a pearl-colored lure with a light green lime back. Because of its back, this lure shows up in stained water, and its white pearl belly shows up in clear water. Fishing a crankbait successfully involves several important ingredients. The further you can cast a crankbait, the lighter line you use and the deeper you hold your rod in the water, the deeper the crankbait will dive.

I've found that a crankbait works most effectively when fished on some type of breakline, either an underwater creek channel, an underwater grass line, an underwater stumprow or some other type of break-line. When fishing for deep-water bass, attempt to discover a school of bass. You want to catch your limit of bass out of one spot.

Question: What tactics do you use in the summer to catch those deep-water bass?

Mark DavisAnswer: During the summer months, I'll use a fast retrieve. When the surface temperature reaches 80 degrees or higher, the bass's body metabolism rises, and the bass want to chase a fast-moving bait. You use a faster retrieve to get a reaction strike. However, you need to remember that bass don't read the same magazine articles and books we read. Some days you need a slow retrieve for the bass to bite -- even in hot weather. But during the winter months, I almost always use a slow retrieve. I may even want to add a little weight to my crankbait to make it suspend. Then when I stop the bait, the lure will sit there for a long time so that the bass can see it and decide to eat it. I may work it really slow through cover.