Summer time Basics for Success
Hey y'all, summer time is here and I'm sure hearing a lot from anglers through out the country who are struggling to catch bass. Most complain of not catching many fish, and the ones they do catch are always small. I have a few simple ideas I'd like to share with you that should improve your summertime catch rate, no matter where you fish for bass. As with most of my fishing, I like to keep things as simple as possible, I only rely on a couple of baits and three patterns. These baits have been very effective on bass in both the deeper ranges and shallows, as we move out of the post spawn and into our summer patterns. There are three things I tend to look for when approaching a lake this time of year, especially when the temps git up to and above 100 degrees outside.
First is, I look for those easy aggressive shallow fish. These are roaming fish in that 0-6' range. Look for shallow flat areas in the backs of coves that have running water coming in. Also, look for shallow areas that the shoreline is peppered with docks. Either of these with a deep creek channel, within say 200 yards, can be a honey hole of a spot. Sometimes ya can strike a bonanza and find a few big ones up here, but for the most part, your gonna find smaller fish, and in numbers. But these are catchable fish that can make a poor day, a good one, unless yer fishing a tournament, then ya gotta adjust to other patterns.
The next thing I'll look for, are weeds! Especially defined pockets and beds of weeds that are a little deeper. Find weeds that may have some relatively close access to deeper water, you'll find larger concentrations of fish. Bass just love ta hang out in this kinda stuff in the summer time. It provides great cover, low light penetration and a higher level of oxygen than the hot, muggy shallows. Also, it harbors a good food source. It doesn't matter where you fish, what lake or country, bass will use the weeds in the summer. I particularly like to find such weedy places in that 8-12' range. The fish here will tend to be slightly bigger than the juveniles up cruising in the shallows. Also look for matted weeds on the surface, those that form a canopy and have open water underneath can harbor some of the biggest fish you'll catch all summer.
The last place I'll search for them is in that deeper zone around structural changes from 12-20'. In the summer time, especially out here in California, this is the range, most of our summertime bass will be found in, especially those bigger fish at 5 pounds and above. These larger bass, once reaching this size and age, just tend to spend more of their time in this zone on a daily basis through out the rest of their adult life. They are out there in a mode that I refer to as the recovery room stage. They've just gone through the most rigorous stage of their annual life cycle, the spawn. They are in a comfort zone down there. Yet they still are active and CAN be caught. They spend far less energy moving around down here and are least affected by the subtle and drastic frontal passages, that greatly affect the shallower fish, which we see through out the states, especially in the southern part of the US.
Keeping these three basic patterns in mind, I'll use two basic baits that can be excellent in catching fish in ALL three of these patterns. A Jig and a Senko! Fishing the Senko weightless up in the two shallow stages is very effective. Not near as effective now than in the spring, but it is an effective, summertime bait. I just find that getting away from the dead sticking mode and fishing it slightly faster, tends to trigger more strikes as the water temperatures increase. A lift and jiggle retrieve works very well for me. The fish are gonna be in a more active, chasing mode than they were during the spring, at which time they were more in a predatory, protective mode of their hallways and bedrooms while spawning. Also, try fishing that Senko on your Texas rig in that deeper second and third zone. This is also a great option that should not be overlooked! This is a very versatile bait and you should experiment with it. Try tossing it on a C-rig, in and around the same grass ya cast to with the weightless rigs.
The Hula grub, is an exceptional choice of baits at this time of year. But unlike the way I fish this as a "One-Ton" in the late fall and winter, I'll go more to the lighter weighted jig heads of 1/8, 1/4 and 3/8 oz sizes. And I'll tend ta swim that bait more along the bottom, through and around the cover. Generally at this time of year, bass will tend to key on the various bait fish and bream we find in most of our reservoirs. These bream, gills and sunfish are now up there spawning themselves, as well as they are gorging on the various spawned fry found through out our lakes. They make for very easy targets and a fast meal for a bass. Hence the appeal of a jig at this time of year. I do tend to prefer the single tail Hulas during the summer, especially in the two shallower zones I mentioned above.
In that deeper 3rd zone, 12-20', I will go with a 3/8oz double tail Hula. My favorite bait though, is a ½ oz, brown rubber jig with a 5" single tail Yamamoto electric grape (164) or Indigo (209) grub. Bouncing these jigs down through the structural changes of this zone is very productive. You're keeping your bait in the strike zone, of the bigger fish, for a longer period of time and, it allows you to cover quite a bit more water. The one thing that I always do while fishing the jigs in deeper water, is to constantly change my cadence of the retrieve. I feel this is very critical in triggering summer time strikes from bass. There is a point in time during any bass' day that he is in a "positive" feeding mode. During this time, that bass will clock just about anything he sees which is tempting to his pallet. But when they are in that "negative" feeding mode, many times, different movements will trigger strikes at various times through out the day. There is no right or wrong way to bounce and hop this bait, as long as ya keep it moving at this time of year.
These are some of the things I have found to be very successful when fishing for bass during the summer months. The two baits I've mentioned, are two of my favorite baits to use, mostly because I can keep the bait in the strike zone for the longest periods of time. And they are very versatile in that it allows me to be creative in the action that I can put into these two baits in an effort to try and trigger strikes. Being able to be creative adds a whole lot more fun to your fishing in my mind. Also, bass at this time of year are susceptible to the big, bulky once a day meal. These jigs and the fat, 5.25" ( 9 series) or 6" (9L series) Senkos, fill a bass' choice from your menu of baits.
There are two other tips I would give ya that have worked for me over the years. The first is taking these two baits with me and not launching or heading out to fish until 1 hour before dark. Fish through the night. You will find most times, your catch rate and success goes way up. And secondly, throw topwater and never put it down!
Try these simplified approaches that I use for some great summer time bass fishing. Keep A Tight Line!