The artificial lure one of Louisiana’s top bass fishing pros wants in his hand in November depends on the color of the water he’s fishing in the Atchafalaya Basin.
If the water’s clear, Cliff Crochet of Pierre Part casts a chartreuese/white/silver Santone Got 5 spinnerbait with a silver Colorado and gold willow-leaf blade combination. If the water’s dirty, the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour angler ties on a 3/8-ounce Smokey Joe or tequila sunrise Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap.
“That’s a fun time of year. You can fish all day, catch fish all day and not sweat like an animal. Cool and fun,” Crochet said. “You might be talking summer fishing in November. I don’t know what kind of cycle the weather will be in, (but) generally, water conditions are cooling down.”
And that time of year is about shad, shad, shad, he added, which is why he favors a Santone Got 5 spinnerbait and Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap.
“Two things generally happen later in the year,” said Crochet, who has qualified for four Bassmaster Classics. “The wind starts blowing. I’m thinking of going down a Basin canal or a flat on Toledo Bend. The food chain starts to work. You catch a lot more fish roaming than you usually do. You may find yourself fan casting a little more than you do other times of the year.”
Crochet was pleased when, at the end of his MLF Bass Pro Tour season, that the Atchafalaya River dropped to a fishable level, sampled the bassing but mostly stayed clear of the maddening crowd in the lower Spillway.
“They can have it. I got out of the way,” he said.
For sure, Crochet will be back in the swamp in November. The lures he uses to catch bass depend on the water color in drains, sloughs, pipeline canals and natural bayous.
“The clearer the water, I’m going to a spinnerbait,” he said. “When I can see 8 inches down, that’s good water. The reason I do that in clearer water I can fish (it) really fast, up high.”
That way, he said, he can see bass attack the spinnerbait, which he fishes on 15-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon loaded on a Kast- King Bassinator Elite reel seated on a 7-foot Cliff Crochet Signature Series Duce Rod.
Crochet said he’ll fish a Rat-L-Trap slower in dirtier water with a distinctive, deliberate retrieve. He will adjust, however, to what the fish want.
Normally, he retrieves with a “one-two punch.” First he’ll burn it. His favorite retrieve involves sweeping his rod tip horizontally from, say, 12 to 3 o’clock on an imaginary clock face, reeling in the slack after the sweep.
“It’s a slow and steady retrieve. You’ll be pulling on that retrieve, and you’ll feel as you give the bait back to the rod. A lot of times when you go to pull again a fish already has it. It feels like it’s stuck …. It’s stuck in a fish’s mouth,” he said.