Pete Ponds of Mississippi competes on the Bassmaster Elite Series, with one win and six Top 10 finishes along with more than $500,000 in winnings. He loves a good crankbait bite anytime of the year, and especially in the late summer transition into autumn.

The Lure
Bandit Flat Maxx shallow running crankbait, in a shad pattern

The Tackle
Pete Ponds uses a 7-foot-1 medium-heavy White Ice Duckett Fishing rod, Ardent Apex reel, and 10-12 pound Vicious fluorocarbon, primarily for the feel. It’s such a subtle bite.

Where To Fish It
Start working in creeks toward the back of pockets as the shad start moving back into them, and follow the creek channel. Anywhere the creek makes an underwater horseshoe or S-turn, Ponds concentrates on the outside edges of the S-turn. He says the ideal scenario is to be about 10 feet deep in the middle, and go up to about 4 feet on the sides of the channel.

“When you find that and catch them, you should be able to key in on where they are and how they’re biting—in just about any creek,” Ponds said.

How To Fish It
Ponds makes a sweeping motion with his rod instead of a stop-and-start retrieve to keep the bait moving. He says, “It’s very important that you sweep it like a hook-set, but not too aggressively. Take up slack in the line and do that again. I don’t really understand why, but those shad migrating in the back of the creeks are like that.”

Ponds said bass hit the Flat Maxx when you pause it and start to take up slack, so it’s important to keep the line taut. If you don’t keep the slack out of the line you will not feel the bite. It’s subtle, like a worm bite.

When to Fish It
Now on through autumn, when the first cool temperatures set in at night. Then, more consistently cool temperatures will help push shad and bass into creeks.

Why It Works
Shad are migrating to the back of pockets and coming to the surface, maybe for oxygen. They’re being active and concentrating in big groups. Sometimes, you’ll find them in tremendous numbers in a school or schools, with bass around them as well. On river systems shad are starting to move to the mouths of the pockets and, when the first good cold front comes through, they’re going to head back further. Bass will be more aggressive, too, following them.

“Normally when you find one bass they’ll be in groups, maybe five to six or more in a group,” Ponds said. “When you get them dialed in, it’s a lot of fun.”