Summer bass fishing was a magical time for me as a kid – school was out, the weather was great, and my brother and I would sit on the banks of the local waterways for hours waiting on anything to come along and snack on the worms we had suspended a few feet below our bobbers. My worry-free mind would drift off into space until the cork took a sudden dip below the water’s surface. I would be unable to contain my excitement knowing I was about to be one fish ahead of my big brother – because, at the time, competitions based on chance were just about the only thing I could beat him at.
As I grew older and continued to indulge my love for the sport, I exchanged my care-free game of chance mode of fishing out for a more strategic approach, which only became more in-depth as I started to focus on bass fishing specifically. Of course, like many other anglers, I picked up a lot of what I knew from the mouths of those much older and wiser than myself. Still, as time went on, I started noticing that while they meant well in sharing their advice and that it sometimes rang true, this was not always the case, especially when it came to summertime bass fishing. So, today I will bestow upon you some of the knowledge I have gained over the years and share my favorite bass fishing tips & techniques.
From my time spent around other anglers, I have learned that we all seem to start with the same bit of advice when it comes to catching big bass in the Summer. It sounds something like this: “Bass become lethargic as it gets hot outside, and they move into deeper water as the temperature gets hotter.” A vast generalization that, while somewhat true it usually leads anglers to limit their fishing to the early mornings before the sun comes up and late afternoons right before the sun goes down. The fish are going to be more active during these times of day, but what if I told you that you could catch just as many, if not more bass, during the hottest parts of the afternoon.
Summer Bass Behavior
Before I get into it too much, the first thing you have to understand is the general behavior of bass in the Summer months. The lives of bass are wholly driven by predatorial instinct, and while it may take a little more time to locate them in the Summer, they are just as hungry as any other time of year. In addition, these ambush predators do prefer cooler waters which many attribute to the higher amount of dissolved oxygen found in the lower temperatures. With these two bits of information in mind, you will be able to more effectively target big bass in the heat of those Summer days. In essence, you want to target the cool spots and present to the fish whatever it is they are feeding on.
Summer Bass Fishing Tips
Summer bass fishing is not so different from fishing in the other seasons, except that you have to adjust your targeted spots more often and will more than likely be sweating through your clothes by lunchtime. There are two prominent locations that I like to target in the Summer, which are shallow shaded cover and deeper outside structures. Both of these spots have the potential to yield some monster fish, and if they like what’s on the menu, you are bound to have a good day of fishing.
When fishing shallow cover on those hot summer days, you are going to want to target the heavily shaded spots. Try to target the areas that are permanently shaded over those that are only briefly covered due to the sun’s location. Areas that get the most hours of shade daily are where the big ones will be hiding.
My favorite shallow water places to catch bass in the Summer are underneath docks and around dams, bluffs, and cliffs. These spots shade the nearby water for most of the day and thereby maintain a relatively cool water temperature perfect for catching the big ones.
In addition to targeting shade on the water’s surface, you should try and target shadows you see below the surface. These are often indicative of heavy underwater cover or deep pockets, both of which signal lower water temperatures that often yield the big ones. If you have a fish finder, you can target shallow spots that border deeper moving waters. For example, Bass will often hide in the shallows close to a drop-off due to the lower temperature and movement of the water.
Another prime spot to scope out in the shallows are places with heavy grass coverage. Thick grass acts as a shield from the sun’s rays and serves as a hiding place for the ambush predatorial instincts of the bass. Again, the thicker, the better in this scenario as the big ones are often in the prime hard to penetrate spots.
Now that you know which spots to target in the shallows, the next thing you have to consider is what the fish want to eat. I find that most commonly, bass in shallow waters tend to feed on the small baitfish that hang around – bluegill, shad, and even smaller bass. If you are trying to draw the big ones out of some heavy grass cover, I recommend trying a topwater frog. If this isn’t making them come off of the bottom, then you need to bring the bait to them. The most effective way to do this is by tying on a rig suitable for punching through the heavy vegetation. I recommend using a 1 to 2oz. weight depending on the density of the grass – keep in mind that while it may be harder to penetrate, the thicker grass is going to be where the big ones are. Plastic craws and swimbaits are perfect baits to use on your punching rig in this scenario.
As I mentioned earlier, some of the most common advice around Summer bass fishing is centered around targeting deep waters because they are always going to be cooler than the shallows. The reason for this is that the sun can only penetrate so far past the surface of the water. This is going to depend on the clarity of whatever water you are fishing. If the water is murky, then the sun’s rays may only penetrate 10-15 feet, but if the water is crystal clear, it could reach a depth of 30-40 in some extreme cases.
This generalized approach of fishing deep waters on the hottest days during the summer is a bit more complex than just casting out in the middle of the lake. In order to increase your chances of landing a big one, you have to know what to target. I have found that most of my deepwater bass in the Summer comes from targeting currented waters and rocky formations.
The ideal deep water spot is a rock ledge on the side of a current. Big bass love to wait atop these ledges for baitfish to come by so they can snag them up. Take advantage of this by swimming a deepwater crankbait right along the ridge, and as always, try to match your crank to the baitfish that the bass are feeding on. If your crank is getting snagged on the rocks, you can try fishing a snagless swimbait which will achieve a similar presentation without the burden of getting hung up.
Accurately targeting these spots in deep water can be extremely difficult without a depth finder, but that doesn’t mean you should not try. There are multiple sources available where you can find topographical maps of your local lakes, which will give you some idea of where you should be fishing.
Summer Bass Fishing
Summer is one of my favorite times of the year to fish because the competition is slim. Not too many people are willing to be on the water during the hottest times of the day, which means if you are willing to endure the sweltering heat, you’ve got a better chance of catching that personal best. Now that you know where the bass like to hide during the Summer, it’s time for you to get out there and catch them! Just don’t forget the sunscreen!