August is usually a month when fishermen across North Carolina find bass so deep that the number of lures with which they can reach them is cut in half.

Find bass 20 feet deep, and you’re pretty much relegated to a jigging spoon, a big jig, a Carolina rig or a Texas-rig with a huge weight.

Well, this is the last August that we’ll have that problem. By this time next year, bass fishermen will have a new set of weapons to catch bass in deep water: Berkley’s Dredger crankbaits, which debuted at the ICAST fishing-tackle manufacturer’s show in Florida in mid-July.

We’ve been working on these baits for three years; I don’t know how many times I’ve gone to Berkley’s headquarters to test them out. I know they tried 28 different bodies before they came up with this one, and it’s a beauty.

These baits will be called the Dredger 10.5, 14.5, 17.5, 20.5 and 25.5, and we’re working on a 30.5. They’re smaller and will run deeper, and get deeper faster, than anybody else’s baits. They’ll run 5 feet deeper than crankbaits of similar sizes; there’s been some real innovation this time, some real work with hydrology and how water runs over a bait.

Most fishermen won’t be able to get hold of these baits until about the time the Bassmaster Classic comes around next winter, but they should be in your local tackle shop in plenty of time to use them when bass head out to deep water. 

The ones I’m most excited about are the 14.5, 17.5, 20.5 and 25.5. The 14.5 is about the size of an old Poe’s 300, the size of most people’s 10-foot crankbaits, but it will run 15 feet deep. The 17.5 will run 19 feet deep; it’s smaller than a 6XD or DT-16. The 20.5 is the same size as an old Bagley’s DB-3, about 3 inches, and it will run 21 feet deep on a long cast with 10-pound test line. It winds about like a DB-3; you won’t be worn out at the end of the day after fishing it.

The 10.5 is about the size of a Bandit 200, 2 inches. You can get a Bandit down 7 or 8 feet, max, but this bait will run 13.

I had some of the 25.5 baits at the FLW tournament on Kentucky Lake a couple of months ago, and I got two of them hung up, one at 24.6 feet and one at 24.8 feet. I know that because I have a 26-foot rope on my lure retriever, and the end was within a foot or 18 inches of the surface when the plug knocker hit the lures. It’s a 31/2-inch bait.

These plugs have got a lot of weight in them. They’re very slow floaters. Where most baits sit in the water at a 45-degree angle, the Dredger sits at about a 70-degree angle, with just the tail sticking out of the water. I just can’t believe we came up with this good a deal to get smaller baits this deep. it’s all about the angle of the lip and how the water flows over it.

These baits should take care of our problems in getting a crankbait down to fish when they get really, really deep.

I really like some of the colors these baits will be available in. My favorite is a new color called “honey” that is sort of a pre-1975 bone color, with a gray back and gold highlights. It looks great. We’re going to have some of the old, classic colors available, and some new colors; they’re all custom painted.

There’s one other little bait I really like that’s new: a Digger 3.5. It’s a little smaller than a Killer B-1, and you can get it down 51/2 feet with your rod tip down. I think it’s gonna get a lot of the business that square-lipped baits are getting.

It will take a fisherman’s ability to make long casts to get the best performance out of these crankbaits. I always use 10-pound test on crankbaits; that’s a given. This year, Lew’s has come out with a new model in my David Fritts Perfect Crankbait Speed Sticks. We changed the handle a little, and we came out with a heavy action rod in the 7-foot and 7-foot-6 sizes, so we’ve got them in medium, medium-heavy and heavy actions. The Lew’s BB1 is still the ultimate cranking reel, and you can cast one of the new Dredger baits 70 yards with one of these rods and reels.

I’ve been really looking forward to having these new baits and the new tackle in hands of fishermen besides myself. I think you will like them — especially in August. Put a bait down 18 or 20 feet in front of a bass and see how she likes it.