Mid-summer and cranking deep brush simply go together in the mind of pro angler Jimmy Mason. Brush was a huge deal on Alabama’s Lake Wheeler, where Mason grew up fishing. He and his dad fished a lot of deep brush during the summer, especially at night during four-hour jackpot tournaments. In fact, if they fished tournaments three nights in a week, a fourth night might have been spent planting new brush.

Mason’s three staple lures for fishing deep brush have always been a big crankbait, spinnerbait and worm. The crankbait often produces the biggest fish, though, and is his go-to for daytime brush fishing.

“That has always been a DD22,” he said. “It is the one I reach for.”

Cranking Approach

When Mason gets in range of known brushpile, whether by triangulation or an icon on his GPS, he casts until he feels it or looks with his electronics to get a precise location and then puts down a marker buoy.

“There’s nothing more accurate than a marker buoy directly over the brush for setting up to make good presentations,” he said.

Mason typically starts out on the deep side of the brush and casts past it into shallower water so his lure works down the slope toward the brushpile. As the lure approaches the zone, he feels for the line rubbing brush and slows his presentation just a bit so he can work the lure over the top of the brush and bump it some but not crank way down into the brush and get hung.

“That’s really important, because you don’t want to hang and mess up the brushpile.” He explained. “It’s something you get more and more of a feel for as you do more of it, and you learn to ‘worm’ a crankbait through a brushpile.”

After Mason has cranked a brushpile for a few minutes, he’ll normally pick up a 10-inch YUM Ribbontail and make a few additional casts for fish that might be in a different mood. He’ll then reposition the boat 90 degrees around the brush, so he’s perpendicular to the slope, and try presenting the lure from a different angle. After that, he might try the shallow side or he might just move to another brushpile.

“This isn’t school fishing,” Mason said. “You’re fishing each brushpile for one, two or three fish. Five would be almost like a school.”

Consequently Mason rarely fishes any one brushpile for more than about 10 minutes before he moves to the next one. He’ll typically have quite a few piles identified, and he’ll fish them in a milk run, going back to the beginning after fishing the last one. By day’s end, he will have fished most of his brushpiles four or five times.

“Often the biggest fish will hit on the first or second presentation, so by letting a brushpile rest and coming back, you give yourself the best opportunity to put together a really good bag,” he said.

Brush Cranking Gear

Because bass that are using deep brush are mostly feeding on shad, Mason sticks with shad color patterns. He pointed toward Sexy Shad, Nutter Shad and Chartreuse Blue as a few favorites, noting that he considers Chartreuse Blue a very good shad imitator in deeper water, where light penetration is reduced.

For cranking deep brush, Mason always uses copolymer line instead of fluorocarbon because copolymer line is more buoyant, which helps the lure come up when he is working it through the top of the brush. He also uses a graphite rod, instead of the fiberglass he favors for some cranking, because he wants maximized sensitivity to feel the line and lure hitting the brush. He prefers a 5.3:1 reel, but he believes the most important consideration is to always use the same speed of reel.

“You want everything to be the same with your reel speed, your rod and your line so you know what it feels like and how much the lure is moving relative to how far you turn the reel handle,” he said.

Brush Locations

Most places Mason fishes are waters he has fished for many years, so he already has countless brushpiles marked on his GPS. If he was fishing less familiar waters and planning a brush strategy, he would invest time to search with his graph and find a bunch of brushpiles before he ever started fishing, ideally on another day.

In terms of summer locations, Mason likes main-lake spots or far the lower ends of major creeks, and he favors deep flats or other areas that are somewhat featureless and where fewer anglers will search for fish and will find and fish the same brush. In places like Pickwick that have a lot of current running through the main body, the most productive brushpiles typically are in areas that are at least somewhat protected from the strongest current, he noted

“When you’re looking for brush, think about the kinds of areas where you’d want to sink brush, and you’ll probably find some there,” he said.