Two pro guides, Layne Ell and Richie Moschella are on the fish all year long, even during the dog days of summer when other anglers have given up and gone to the beach with their family. Suckers. Learn what lures you should be tossing instead of throwing in the towel and how to work them once they’re in the water, and you can be on fish all summer too.
It could be the best of times and the worst of times. I’m talking about summer bassin and locating bass on bodies of water across the country. They can be aggressive or they can be unfavorably finicky and not seem interested in anything you throw. Paying very close attention to weather patterns and zoning in on their feeding windows will be crucial for your success in the hot summer months. It’s all about finding the waters rhythm and once you plug into you’ll be able to make the right choices for success. You need to be like a coach getting ready for the big game or a general gearing up for battle. In summer you need a game plan, it’s not just about fan casting an area hoping you find fish.
Switch To Low Light Mode
I can tell you without a doubt take advantage of low light periods if you can, get to the water early and target the topwater bite. This is a fantastic time to be on shallow weedy flats and around boat docks. Nothing can set your day off to a better start and get you pumped then a topwater explosion. Also look for shallow flats adjacent to deep water, this is a prime location for big old summer bass to roam when low light conditions are at hand. Implement baits like buzzbaits, poppers, frogs and spooks.
You’re creating a scenario that happens on the body of water night after night. It’s your job as an angler to recreate nature and make that topwater bait of yours scurry across the water’s surface to save its life. Try mentally to give your bait a story by having it land by a dock and at first kick and scream in the water and slowly lessen the twitches to it barely moving. I have caught a lot of fish when the bait stopped twitching and just sat on the surface for a few seconds, it was as if the bass waited for the critter to die.
Photo: Summer bassin requires patience and a little extra know how to stay on the fish.
Find The Shade
The other situation is your mid-day into afternoon period, this is when anglers are begin to make their way to the boat ramp. That hot summer sun is over head and the consensus that most anglers came to is the fish stopped biting. As they prepare to go home I’m not leaving, I’m trying to locate boat docks, marinas, vegetation and woods. I have my 7/6 medium heavy rod rigged with 25 lb. Seaguar Fluorocarbon flipping line. This line is tough and offers me the maximum sensitivity and knot strength.
It’s tough and you’re going to need it where you’re going. Mid-Day into the afternoon you find shade and chances are good you’ll find the bass. Flipping and covering water effectively and efficiently is critical. My Flip N Cast Jig from Z-Man is perfect for the job at hand and in tough weedy conditions a heavy cover jig will do just fine. The weight all depends on what you need to get through and can vary depending on conditions. My universal size that I use in most conditions is 3/8 ounce, Black/Blue or Green Pumpkin. I will have mine rigged with a Palmetto Bugz from Z-Man. This jig offers great action and really can entice finicky bass to bite.
Your targets will be shady boat docks, wood stumps and trees in the water and vegetation. The temperatures will be cooler here and a place the bass will seek for cover from the summer sun. Don’t worry if an angler was just fishing the dock you pulled up on, his flipping skills might not be as good as yours. Try and get your bait into high percentage targets like under docks and docked boats. The difference of a few inches can be what it takes to set the hook on a bass.
Practice makes perfect and becoming a good flipper can give you an advantage in the summer months. Also targeting the shady side of wood in the water is another place bass will hold up in bright hot conditions. This offers them a great place to ambush prey and get out of the direct sunlight. If you have a big old log in the water cast to the side that’s in the shade and if the suns overhead try and cast underneath it. Making calculated casts and thinking like a bass is key. When you’re flipping you are picking apart locations that have high percentages of holding bass. You’re putting that jig right in front of them and offering them an easy meal. This is one of the best techniques I feel for the mid-day into the afternoon when it comes to the sizzling days of summer.
It’s the Dog Days of Summer- hot, steamy, light breeze and blue bird sky and yes I decided this is the day I’m going fishing. I’m on a typical South Jersey lake – small, shallow and lots of muck.
I launch my Native Kayak as the light of day starts to brighten the shores of the lake- water temp is in the low 80s air temp is already also in the low 80’s with a forecast of mid 90’s today. My weapons of choice for this day – 5 Rods – a finesse spinning rod with 6lb fluorocarbon, a spinning rod with 8lb fluorocarbon, a spinning rod with 10lb braid, a baitcaster rod with 50lb braid and lastly a baitcaster rod set up with 12lb fluorocarbon. These combinations of rods and lines will allow me to fish all day long and vary my presentations as the conditions change. When fishing out of a kayak you’re limited to the amount of equipment you can bring, so your choice of rod and reels needs to be very specific.
Photo: Structure like lily pads provide bass with ambush points and shade all summer.
I’m looking specifically for any structure that a bass may be using for relief from the hot sun. My game plan for the day, in this type of smothering hot weather, is to find lily pads, boat docks and water current. It’s really important to fish shade during the dog days of summer.
Lily pads offer a bass everything they need this time of year – shade, ambush points and cooler water. It also offers an angler a few different ways to go get ‘em! I will start out by fishing the outside edges of the pads usually with a Texas rigged 4 or 5” Senko or by tossing a chatterbait with a speed craw trailer. I also like to throw a buzzbait anywhere around grass first thing in the morning, up until the sun starts to get up. Bass love to use the outside edge as ambush points and these fish are usually very active and looking to chew on something. I will then start working my way into the pads by throwing the Senko or a frog and drag them over top of the leaves. The bass on the inner parts of the pads are usually not very aggressive nor are they feeding, so you need to get a reaction bite. Luckily for anglers, bass can’t resist swatting at something running over their heads!
Boat docks are another great hot weather spot to fish bass. Like the lily pads, docks offer shade and protection. When fishing docks, again start from the outside post and then work your way further under dock with each cast. My baits of choice for fishing docks are a wacky rigged senko, a small shallow running crankbait, spinnerbait and a jig. The wacky rigged senko and the jig should be used to vertically fish the dock posts and also to be skipped way under the dock. I use the crankbait and or spinnerbait to run the outside edges, again looking for those active bass looking to pounce on anything that comes close. Docks near deeper water usually produce better than those sitting on a big flat.
Photo: Whether you’re fishing for smallmouth or largemouth, these bass tips will keep you on fish.
Moving Water Moves Fish
Next spot I’m looking for during a mid-summer heat wave is a place that has water current. Moving water is simply cooler than water that is sitting still and bass during this time of year are seeking out that cooler water. Another reason current is so important, is that it has a higher level of oxygen and bass here will be more aggressive and more apt to bite vs those in low level oxygen areas. These places include rivers leading into the lake, narrows between land masses, bridges and damns that have water flow going past them. I’m fishing these areas by keying in on any structure that might be available like bridge posts, laydowns, chuck rock etc. and throwing some sort of moving bait like a crankbait, chatterbait or spinnerbait. These fish are usually located in the eddy of the structure and facing upstream waiting for something to swim past it so that it can gobble it up as it passes by.
Follow these patterns during the hottest days of the summer and not only will you be able to work on your tan but you will also be able to put a few fish in the boat!