By Guest Columnist and Pro Angler Bradley Hallman
June is normally what we consider a transition month for bass. The transition we’re referring to is the movement of bass from their spawning flats to their deep-water, summer hangouts. Knowing that these often big groups of bass are heading towards deeper water and what areas and bait to key on can be the difference between locating and catching a limit every day and just wasting expensive gasoline as you motor around the lake looking.
At the start of the summer transition, you have to figure out how late the spring was and how cold it has been on that lake. Sometimes during June the fish are just starting to move out of spawning coves and might not yet be out on the main lake, depending on how far south you fish. Main-lake points and humps are the places you want to find. June is an excellent time of year to catch bass on these main-lake points because they’ve started schooling up. They are still trying to heal up from the spawn so they are eating well; they are almost always focusing on shad as forage. Whatever kind of shad may be in your favorite fishery will be trying to spawn on these long, flat points in shallow water, and the bass are going to follow them.
When I say main-lake point, remember: it doesn’t necessarily have to be on the main lake. Some people get confused by this and think that a secondary is inside the cove, but a huge cove—like Horse Creek on Grand Lake in my home state of Oklahoma—can act like a lake in itself. Fish in that cove do not have to swim all the way out to the main lake in the summertime. That cove and those like it on other lakes is big enough to sustain a population of bass and shad. So a lot of points inside these coves can be treated like main-lake points.
The other thing to key on this time of year is current. In a lot of manmade reservoirs they are using the water to generate electricity. When they are generating power, the current is pulling shad and bait across those points and the bass will lock in on that. Bass will continue to key on these areas until they start going into their fall pattern.
Depending on how cold the spring was, start looking at points in the back of pockets. The colder the spring, the further back in those pockets the bass will be. Start on those secondary points and start working your way towards the main lake. The big key here is to look at a lake map and find where the creek or river channel bumps into the point of hump. That’s the ticket right there, because those channels are the main highway for bass. Wherever the channel bumps into long, flat points—that’s where the fish will be. There may be 20 fish at each of these. You might only be able to catch four or five at a time, but they will be there. Most times the water will be five to 15 feet deep, but in clear water (like Table Rock) they could be as deep as 20 feet.
This time of year, I start off first thing in the morning with a topwater bait. I’ll walk a Berkley Frenzy Popper—any color with a white belly—on 15-pound Big Game line. I’ll spool that line on a high-speed (7.1:1) reel on a 6-foot, 6-inch medium-fast rod like the Fenwick Techna AV. Just make long casts to the point and see if you can get something to come up and eat.
If that doesn’t produce, I switch to my new favorite bait, the new Football Head Gripper Jig with the twin trailer behind it. I throw it on a 7-foot medium-heavy, fast rod with a standard-speed retrieve REVO STX on 20-pound fluorocarbon. I cast the jig to the top the top of the point and then bounce and drag it all the way out. For this, my jigs have to have brown and green in them, A brown-based color on the jig with a green trailer works perfect for 90 percent of the time no matter where I am. If the water is really stained, I might throw a black and blue on occasion.
Beyond the jig, the 10-inch Power Worm is standard issue for summer bass fishing anywhere in the country. Doesn’t matter where I am, I am throwing Blue Fleck – no matter the water color or what they’re eating. I use the same rod and reel that I use for the jig set up and downsize my line to 15-pound fluorocarbon. I Texas rig the worm with a 3/8-ounce tungsten weight and a 5/0 wide-gap worm hook and fish it the same way I did the jig: just drag and bounce the worm from the top of the bottom all the way out.
Keying on the points and humps during the summer transition can put a lot of fish in the boat and allow everyone on board to get in on some of the furious fishing action to be had this time of year. Start with the maps and find your spots and work them with these three baits and you’ll find schools – sometimes really big schools – and have a head start on everyone else that’s looking for big bass.