By USA Guest Columnist and Pro Angler Boyd Duckett
Some people think that the summertime is not the best time to catch bass, much less big bass. The hotter and higher the sun gets, the better sitting in front of the air conditioner begins to sound. It’s during this time of year that too many anglers opt for sipping iced tea instead of fishing.
I fish for a living, so retreating to the climate-controlled house when it gets hot simply is not an option. I have to be able to catch bass in the wind, rain, sleet, snow and the heat. In fact, I really like to catch big fish during the summer. When it’s hot and sunny, bass, like a lot of anglers, like to get in under the edge of a shade line and will feed looking out. The fish will suspend under cover, so what I like to do is get up close and pitch right down the edges, letting the bait free fall.
In the heat, I will target both structure and vegetation. In these environments, I like to pitch a 4-inch power flipping tube or a Gripper football-head jig. In heavy wood, I might go with a 10-inch worm with a big ½-ounce sinker. The big weight is critical at this time to help sink the bait pretty fast, which can go a long way towards making a sometimes sluggish summer bass excited enough to strike. If the bites slow down, try downsizing your bullet weight and do some “finesse flipping” from close range. By flipping smaller weights, you minimize the amount of splash upon your bait’s entry and are less likely to spook the fish. By pitching in front of your boat and staying quiet, you can target bass that are hiding in grass that other anglers couldn’t catch or don’t realize they are there.
When targeting summer bass with these presentations, make sure to keep an eye on your line. When you pitch a big worm and a sinker into heavy cover, you have to watch the line, because when it stops, you want to immediately lift up on it and see if there’s tension or weight. I almost always use fluorocarbon for most of my summer presentations (except topwater lures) because of its manageability, strength and it has little or no stretch so you can strong-arm that big bass out of its shady hangout more easily.
There’s no sure-fire way to catch big bass once summer rolls around. Different presentations work in different places at different times, regardless of season. But being on the water is the first step towards a successful and memorable summer fishing trip. So if you’re out there, find the cover and make sure that you have the gear you need to be able to get them out of it.
Boyd Duckett, from Demopolis, Ala., is the 2007 Bassmaster Classic winner and currently fishes the BASS Elite Series.