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Three Tactics For Summer BassDoug Howlett
The old Tracy Byrd song laments that "it’s too hot to fish, too hot for golf and too cold at home." While scorching summer temps may definitely translate into unbearable discomfort on the links, and your home situation may well be in the toilet (we can’t help you there), there’s certainly no need to give up on the fishing. In fact, while summer fishing may not rock like the spawn, for the determined angler there’s still plenty of action to be had. Angling pros Kurt Dove, John Crews and Mark Rose have all had to learn how to produce on even the most brutal summer days
Start reading 90 percent of the summer bass fishing articles, and they will all start out urging anglers to go deep where both baitfish and, ultimately, bass will suspend in the cooler water. While that is certainly true, Texas pro angler and Lake Amistad guide Kurt Dove says by doing that, a lot of folks waste valuable time and miss out on opportunities much closer to shore.
"Most other people are looking deep, but there are a lot of bass—really big bass—right near the shore in the shallows," Dove says.
The key is to find an area with plenty of cover to provide both shade, as well as ambush spots. Weeds, lily pads, milfoil and other vegetation in waters as deep as 3 to 7 feet are perfect. The angler recommends using a topwater bait, such as a Buzz Frog or El Grande Lures Sapo regardless of the time of day.
"You want to get a reaction strike, so wind it through the grass pretty fast," Dove says. "You want the fish to think something is getting by them."
As an alternate option, you can also flip a creature bait or crawl imitation bait and work it across the top
Go With the Flow
Anywhere water is flowing through or into still water, like a spillway, a pipe that runs into a lake, a fresh flowing creek, or below a dam, you’ll find bass stacked up. The current generates turbulence, which puts more oxygen in the water, something bass need. It also moves bait around.
While most anglers focus on the hiding spots of the protected down-current side of structure i.e., bridge pilings, rocks, etc., the bigger, more active bass will be found in the current where the feeding opportunities are. This means your lure needs to be there too, and you need to be fishing in front of the cover instead of downstream of it.
"Throw a spinnerbait, crankbait, jig, soft plastic… they will all work in this situation," says Dove.
Naturally, as 90 percent of summer bass fishing articles will focus on going deep, the fact is, it works.
"Water temperatures are a big factor in the summer," says FLW pro Mark Rose. "When temperatures start getting to the 80s at the surface, bass will start descending to seek cooler water. The shad will be there, too."
The thermocline, that magic layer of cool water with oxygen, is where you will usually find all of the fish. Just like looking for deep-water structure, or even better, structure where the water is deeper (at least 10 to 15 or more feet deep) and cooler, an angler needs to use his electronics.
"Look for ledges, boulders, submerged brushpiles, stumps… bass need ambush points," says the Arkansas angler.
Once you find the cover,and the bass, Rose says nothing beats a "plain, Jane worm" when working a spot with brush or grass since it’s weedless. In open water, just as Crews does when fishing rocks and other structure, go with a crankbait.
"Give the lure a good steady retrieve. When you hit cover, let it walk its way through it," says Rose. "Don’t crank and stop. I don’t find that helps anyone."
Fellow angler Dove also likes trying a vertical jig presentation such as a Hopkins spoon. Another tactic that is getting a lot of attention lately is long lining for bass, whereby an angler tosses a crankbait out, then continues to spool line out as they move the boat away as much as 200 to 300 yards. Then they begin reel up line, getting crankbaits down at once unimaginable depths of 35 and even 40 feet. The goal is to just rip the bait through big suspending bass.
Lastly, Dove urges anglers to always stay focused on the water and keep an eye out for schooling activity.
"Pay attention with all of your senses," says Dove. "As a guide and tournament angler, I see a lot of anglers looking off into nature instead of really paying attention to what’s going on in the water. That’s certainly part of enjoying the day and I’m not knocking it, but if you really want to catch fish, pay attention to the task at hand. There will be time for riding and looking around later."
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