Plastic boxes bulging with topwater lures, jerk baits, crankbaits, swim baits and spinner baits were scattered all over the front deck of my boat by the time I finally spotted the white Daley’s sack wedged between another box of spoons and Hoginars. The small sack contained the Tony’s clips I was searching far as well as three more jerk baits in some untested color that I couldn’t do without.

Jay Melancon, one of my clients for the day, shook his head in disbelief as I struggled to fit all the boxes back into the front locker.“I had this same problem when I was bass fishing every weekend,” he shouted over the roar of a stiff south wind, “but I never thought it would plague saltwater fishermen as well!”

The unplanned inventorying did not include the boxes of jig heads and terminal tackle, thirty pounds of plastic tails and nine rods also on board. Admittedly, part of the excess is due to the fact that I have to carry tackle for four people, but the bigger issue lies in the fact that bay fishermen now take a far more diversified approach in pursuit of their favorite fish than they did even ten years ago.

While converted bass fishermen have influenced bay fishermen by duping their trout and redfish with traditional bass lures like the spinner bait and the entire gamut of lipped crankbaits, veteran salts had already discovered the effectiveness of topwater lures and lipless crankbaits long ago. Lipped crankbaits and swim baits, however, are relatively new to the saltwater scene.

I am convinced that both are effective tools as they have produced both trout and redfish on days when nothing else would and that is particularly important in my business. I have also found both the color and size of the crankbait to be critical depending on the conditions, thus the reason for carrying so many on board.

Aside from the fact that both trout and redfish like to eat them, the upside lies in the fact that unlike a tail fished on a jig head, you lose very few to rocks or submerged structure. Simply quit retrieving the lure momentarily when the lip contacts an immovable object and it will float free. The downside is that the lip is the reason the lure will dive to a designated depth when steadily retrieved and it won’t catch many fish resting on the surface.

If working at catching fish is not your idea of an enjoyable day on the water, however, spend your money on more plastic tails and forget about fishing a crankbait. The size of the lip determines the depth it will dive to, but it won’t achieve those depths without a lot of cranking!

The larger and longer the bill, the deeper the lure will dive.I fish smaller crankbaits that dive only 3 to 5 feet like the River 2 Sea Cranky M65 or Swimming Image most of the time as they are deadly on the bayous and shallow flats lining the ICW and river. They can be equally productive fished around the rocks at the jetties or revetment walls, but a deeper diving lure is more efficient when the fish are holding deeper.

Depth control is also much easier to achieve with monofilament or fluorocarbon line than braid. I use braid when fishing everything but topwaters and crankbaits for two reasons. Monofilament, I use 12-pound test with a 20 pound shock leader, sinks making it easier to crank your bait down and it is far more forgiving on the hook set. Unlike braid, mono stretches thus giving fish a split second longer to inhale the lure rather than having it jerked away from them.

I use the same Laguna Lt. Texas Wader II rod that I fish most of my hard baits like Corkies and MirrOlures with to fish the shallow running crankbaits. The only difference being that the reel is spooled with mono. Fishing the larger deeper diving lures, however, is much easier done with a stiffer seven foot fast action rod.

The decision to add crankbaits to your arsenal is dependent on how seriously you take all of this fish catching stuff as most everything in your tackle box will work at one time or another. It’s the inconsistency associated with the “one time or another” factor, however, that keeps most of us searching for any edge.

Unfortunately, due to press time each week, the results of the weekly river tournaments are exactly one week old before the results reach you, but better late than never. Melvin Edwards and Kevin Blanchard bested 27 other teams with a single keeper bass weighing 1.80-pounds last Tuesday.

Brent Kemp and Josh Ridgeway took second place with a 1.70-pound fish that they caught fishing around the ramp after having motor problems. Glenn Emmons took third with a 1.46 pound bass and the team of Simon and Vaughn took home the redfish pot. The bass fishing is slowly improving on the river, but exceptionally high tides and dirty water have made it pretty tough of late.