Some anglers will tell you, and most believe, that summertime is not the best time to catch big bass. The hotter the sun gets, the better sitting in front of the air conditioner begins to sound. So most anglers will pack it in during the hottest parts of the year, resigning themselves to sipping iced tea instead of going after the fish of their dreams.
I fish for a living, nearly year round so calling it a day when it gets hot simply is not an option. I have to know how to catch bass in the wind, rain, sleet, snow—and yes, even the heat. I disagree with the common theory that big fish aren’t catchable on long, hot summer days. 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—be it a dock, a parked barge, riprap, lock wall, heavy timber, thick grass—and vegetation. In these environments, I like to pitch a Berkley 4-inch Power Flippin’ Tube, a bait I helped design specifically for these situations, or a Berkley Classic Power Jig. In heavy wood, I might go with a 10-inch Berkley Power Worm with a big half-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.
When targeting summer bass with these finesse 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. The perfect line for this is Vanish Transition because it changes color in the sunlight, which allows anglers to see it better and detect the subtlest movements. And because it has little or no stretch, you can strong-arm that big bass out of its shady hangout more easily.
There’s no sure-fire way to catch big bass. Different presentations work in different places at different times, whether it’s summer, winter or any time in between. 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 have the gear you need to e able to rip them out of it.
Larry Nixon is a former Bassmaster Classic winner with more than $1.5 million in career earnings on the BASS Tour. Nixon lives with his wife and three children in Bee Branch, Ark.