Most people think that catching big bass in the summer is more difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Much like anything else that has to spend all day outside during the hottest part of the year, bass will look for a shady place to hang out. Finding these places is the first step towards catching more than a sunburn during the summer.
Shade fishing will pay off on big lakes, farm ponds, backwater sloughs and creeks in the middle of the day where it is common to find bass holding on the shady side of boat docks, in the shade of walkways leading to boat docks and piers and in the shade of pilings on the side of boat docks and piers. Aquatic vegetation like weeds and grasses also create shade that hold bass during the middle of the day. When it comes to a bass’s summertime hangout, the thicker, denser cover is the most likely place to find fish.
I have the most success when fishing soft plastics and jigs in big water shade. Pitching a plastic worm or lizard under a boat dock can cause a bass attack. These two lures also can catch bass in the grass. To catch big bass in the middle of the day in the summer months, fish a heavy jig that will punch a hole in the thick grass. Then let the bait fall.
When I fish a jig in the grass, I’m primarily fishing the lure on the fall and watching my line to see the strike. A heavier jig results in a faster fall, which is more likely to produce a reaction strike. If the lure hits the bottom, shake your rod tip to make the bait quiver. If a bass doesn’t attack the bait within 10 seconds of its laying on the bottom, then I reel the lure in and make another cast.
If a finesse approach in the shade doesn’t provide the action, topwater baits can be equally effective in warm water. Regardless of the time of year or the day, you can usually find some bass holding on shoreline cover in shallow water, and most of the time they will bite a topwater bait. Experience with depthfinders will also allow you a third option in the summer, fishing for structure-oriented bass in deep water on bottom breaks, humps, drop-offs and ledges. Some anglers will only fish where they see bass holding close to or on the bottom of the depthfinder. But more experienced anglers will fish the bottom breaks and humps because they know that many times the bass will hold just under or beside bottom cover, and you might not spot them on a depthfinder.
Though it may be the hottest time of the year around most of the country, it never hurts to take some time and think about what the fish are doing and why they do it. Look for things in the lake that are likely to have appeal to a bass and focus your efforts on those areas. You might be drenched in sweat, but this time of year can produce some of the year’s best fishing it you approach it the right way.
Ranger Boats Pro Staff member Luke Clausen is the 2006 Bassmaster Classic winner and the youngest angler in professional fishing history to eclipse the $1 million career earnings mark.