The Summer Time Blues for Summer Bass
article by Kenny Covington
As fisherman, we love to catch fish. It’s pretty much that simple, and the easier it is, the better we seem to like it. While I love the catching aspect of fishing as much as the next person, my true passion for the sport is figuring out where the fish are and why they are biting at a particular time.
During the hottest part of the summer here in north Louisiana, it can seem like there are no fish to be found, much less caught, out of our area lakes and rivers. Many swimmers and skiers complain that our waters feel like “bath water.”Since bass are a product of their environment, they will act accordingly. The window of opportunity can be very small when it comes to having a successful day on the water, so it is important to recognize a few of the smaller details.
First and foremost, an angler has to remember that the warmer the water the less, a fish needs to eat in order to survive. A bass metabolism is such that during the warmer summer months, they move around less so they are very particular about their feeding habits. They will not exert near as much energy to chase a meal, and even during times of heavy feeding activity, it is usually short lived.
It is because of this that fishing the first few hours after daylight and the last few hours before dark are usually prime times to catch bass during the summer doldrums. The shade found at both sunrise and sunset is the heaviest you will find at any point during the day, and the fish try to take advantage of even a slight drop in the water temperature.
This scenario will usually put them in predictable areas in the shallow water column, but it is important to cover as much water as you can to try and get the most of the early morning or late evening bite. Even with extremely high water temperatures, top water fishing can be really effective on early morning or late evening trips. It is much easier for a bass to pin his next meal against the surface than it is to chase something around him under the water. Remember they aren’t wanting to move very much, so pay extra attention to where and how each fish is caught. The speed and lure presentation can be critical to your success.
A common question I get from other fishermen is, “Once the sun comes up, where do the fish go?” Much like heavily-pressured deer, it seems a bass is just as capable of vanishing into thin air. Actually, what summer bass tend to do is pull near the first available cover or structure away from their feeding areas, and they will suspend in the water column. Note that I didn’t say they will pull into the cover or above the structure, I said they will pull near it. Fish that are suspended like this are notoriously the hardest ones to catch.
Some other key features to look for when targeting summer bass are isolated weed patches or any irregular weed areas such as smaller sections of lily pads or maybe a floating section of gator grass around a cypress tree. Dock fishing can be really good in the heat of the summer, but pay particular attention where you are getting your bites. When fishing for summer, bass they tend to be in isolated areas but also around specific types of cover.
In keeping with my idea on specifics, I try to keep my choice of lures as simple as possible during the hottest summer months. When it comes to reaction baits, I tend to have more success on smaller lures. The shad this time of year are generally small, as well as the bream, that shallow oriented bass are usually feeding on, so it’s favorable to throw lures with smaller profiles.
Pop R’s, shallow crankbaits such as a 100 Series Bandit, ¼ ounce single willow leaf spinnerbait and a ¼ ounce white buzzbait are my favorite choices when it comes to reaction type of lure selection. My choice for flipping/pitching is almost always a Texas rigged, 8 inch straight, tail worm, and 95% of the time the color will be plum. A watermelon/red Baby Brush Hog can also be an excellent choice for a Texas rigged application. With these lure choices, I can effectively cover the water column from dirt deep down to the eight to 10 foot zone.
As you can see, there are several different ways to catch fish as the hottest days of summer slowly start coming to an end. Specific targets in specific areas can lead you to great fishing trips. Be careful on the water, and catch one for me!
See you next month!