It’s August, the sun is beating down on your skin, and it’s hot and humid on the lake with pleasure boaters swarming any H2O in the area.
This is a great time of year to catch more than just sunburn and some awesome tan lines. It’s one of my favorite times to go catch bass. Unlike the spring and fall, you can’t just go up to the shallows every day and start catching fish.
Summertime fishing takes a little more searching. But where do you search? This time of year, there are four key characteristics to consider when looking for bass during the hot summer months: Shade, deep, weeds, and current. These characteristics often compliment each other, so the more you can find at one time, the better.
The fourth characteristic (current) is only existent on a river system or reservoir, or if the water is really high on a lake in the summer. Other than that, if we are talking lakes, disregard current and use wind as a substitute.
When I go to a lake/river this time of year, I first look at a lake map and find areas that appear to have these four key factors. If it appears to be a lake with deep structure such as main lake points, humps, and inside turns, that’s where I will look first. That does not mean fish will not be shallow, but typically the majority of fish will be in those deeper areas where the water temp is a little colder. Remember that most bass will be relating to some type of structure in this deeper water, whether it is weeds, rock, or a steep break.
I like to look for vegetation (weeds) such as cabbage, coontail, or milfoil. These weeds are hotbeds if you can find them out in deeper water because one of the bass’s main forage such as sunfish, bluegill, and perch will likely be stacked in those areas. I like to slow down and penetrate these areas with an All Terrain Tackle Grassmaster Weed Jig, Jig worm, or Texas rig.
If the lake is lacking in the weed department, I like to find steep breaks with hard bottom and drag an All Terrain Tackle Rock Jig, or dead stick a shaky head. The absolute best thing you can find this time of year is concentrated weeds in deep water that provide shade as well as deep water for those bass.
Look no further, because that is three of the key characteristics in one spot.
Make sure, if you do catch a bass in an area similar to what I’ve described above, to cast back to where you caught that fish. Why? Because this time of year bass often school up out deep and you can really have a heyday if you come across one. Some of the most fun days of fishing I’ve ever had involved catching up to 100 schooling bass out deep in one or two areas. Let me tell you, it’s way too fun!
Although many fish seem to look toward deeper structure during the hot summer, don’t rule out those shallow bass. This can be a fun time of year for that, too.
The biggest thing I can stress when targeting shallow fish this time of year is SHADE, SHADE, and SHADE. I know we all love a sun tan, but the bass are likely going to be relating to shade. The awesome part about shade is that it’s relatively easy to find, especially if you have a lake with boat docks, overhanging trees, and matted weeds such as lily pads and milfoil. These are all good places to start if you’re looking shallow.
Lures such as frogs, senkos, and flipping baits like jigs will likely be your best bet. Find these structure forms in 2-5ft of water. I like to find shady, shallow areas with deep water close by because more fish will likely hold there and can move up quickly.
When I’m fishing bodies of water with current, such as river systems, I’m looking for all these characteristics but keeping one thing in mind. Those bass are always going to be near current. That’s where their food source is. Bass will often sit where the current breaks because this gives them an ambush point for their prey.
The term ‘current breaks’ refers to slack water or spots where the current is halted or deflected another direction. Bass will often be sitting in this slack water ready to pounce on the next lure that floats by. A good way to simplify this is to imagine the current moving by is an assembly line belt in a factory. The belt is the current, and the product on the belt, let’s say a box of cereal, is the bait.
That cereal is moving down the belt with ease just like a baitfish would float down the current. So can you guess where the bass would be? The employees of the factory sit close to the belt in one place on the side. They watch the product ride down the belt all day, much like a bass does with baitfish floating by in the current, so key in on places in the river where something breaks the current. This includes wing dams, backsides of islands, overhanging trees, boulders, etc. Those bass will be positioned right where that current is broken.
It’s never too hot to have a great day of bass fishing in the summer. Bring your sunscreen, bottles of water, ice, and remember the four characteristics of where to find bass in the hot summer and you’re in for a great day of fishing on a lake near you. Whether it be a river or lake, shallow or deep, bass love shade, deep, weeds, and current.
So, go give it a shot! This is a great time of year to catch so much more than sunburn. Good luck and tight lines!