This year, Bassmaster Elite Series pro Brandon Card will compete in his fourth Bassmaster Classic. This year's tournament is on Lake Ray Roberts outside of Ft. Worth, Texas and the June setting should play right into his hands as an offshore specialist. He's looking forward to the event and thinks it should be a good match for his skillset.
Hoping For an Offshore Bite, but Watching Shallow
Card believes this tournament will be won offshore but is still watching the weather patterns as the tournament approaches.
"My preference is for it to be an offshore tournament," he said. "As long as it doesn't get brutally hot all of a sudden, it should be. In my experience in the dog days of summer, when it gets hot, the fish move shallow."
He's hoping for post-spawn bass in the middle to deep sections of the water column so he can target them with a deep-diving crankbait.
3+, 4+, and Beyond
One of his favorite ways to catch bass in the warmer months is with a crankbait and he feels that he has one for every situation.
He's excited that he has weapons for any depth the bass may be in.
"The Duel Hardcore 3+ will get down to that ten to 12-foot range and the 4+ hits the 12 to 15-foot zone," he said. "They have the crankbaits you need to hit all of the deeper zones. I like how the baits have a tight wobble and cast so well because of the weight transfer system."
For deeper water, he mentioned a new Hardcore crankbait that will reach depths much deeper.
"The new 7+ is pretty sweet," he said. "It is a big crankbait that casts well, but it also doesn't wear you out like some big crankbaits. It gets down deep but has a tighter wobble than most crankbaits that are that big."
On Ray Roberts, he should find plenty of suitable areas for throwing these deep crankbaits as there is plenty of cover and the bulk of the fish should be out on these summer haunts.
"I'll be looking for big schools on rock piles, creek channels, and right in the middle of big timber flats," said Card. "I will look closely for places where the deeper water meets those flats."
The Shallow Bite
Card will move shallow and go with a topwater bait like the Hardcore Popper if things get brutally hot.
"I'll still look offshore first to get a handle on the baitfish and figure out the right depth," he said. "I've seen it where most of the baitfish go shallow into the pockets when it gets brutally hot out. Typically though, during May and June in Texas, the winning pattern is fishing out in deeper water."
With that being said, Card will still keep the shallow bite honest and stick with the popper mentioned above as well as a Yo-Zuri 3DB Pencil.
"I'll try both of those in the backs of mainlake pockets and work the bait slowly," he said. "If there are any bluegill beds, that is really important. I'll also check some of the stuff closer to the mainlake. The Pencil and Hardcore Popper both walk really well and make it easy to slowly work over and around any target you see in the water."
For the popper, he fishes it on a 7' medium-heavy iRod Genesis paired with an 8.1:1 Revo MGX spooled with 40-pound Hardcore Super 8 braid with a short leader of Yo-Zuri T7 fluorocarbon line.
"I use about two feet of leader," said Card. "That helps keep the braid out in front of the bait and prevents it from foul hooking the trebles."
Color and Gear Thoughts
Card believes deep cranking will be the way to win the event and although he's ready if a shallow bite unfolds, he's hoping to be deep cranking. He's already thinking about crankbait color selection based on what he expects to see on Ray Roberts in June.
"One of my favorite colors, when it is sunny, is Ghost Pearl Shad," said Card. "When it is more cloudy, I like Citrus Shad."
For cranking gear for the 3+ and 4+, he's working on a signature series of rods from iRod and is developing a 7'6" heavy cranking rod with a moderate action. For the 7+, he likes the 7'11" Crank Launcher iRod.
As the Bassmaster Classic approaches, pro angler Brandon Card is anticipating an offshore cranking bite. All signs are pointing to that being the case, but in the back of his head, he'll be watching for the signals that show a shallow bite. But, he still plans to spend his time cranking as he thinks it gives him the best shot at the win at the prestigious Bassmaster Classic.