Summer Solutions for Freshwater Bass
December 17, 2018
Don’t let the dog days get you down! Beat the heat by focusing on these warm-weather bass-attracting features. By Matt Razey
Ah, summer! It’s a time when boat traffic is heaviest, when water temperatures are climbing, a time that frustrates many bass fishermen. But fear not the summer doldrums! I’m here to bring an end to the bad rap that hot-weather bass fishing has developed over the years. Here are five go-to spots that will help you beat the heat.
(1.) Undercut Banks
A curious phenomenon happens during the full moon in peak summer. This moon period will bring big bass tight to shore, especially along steep, deep, undercut banks. If you can find an undercut bank with some trees hanging over it, with grass, wood, or boat docks nearby, you should score big.
Sure, there will still be plenty of fish on the deep spots, but if you are searching for bigger fish, go to the bank when the moon is full. I’ve had great success flipping jigs and Texas-rigged soft-plastics to undercut banks during this period.
(2.) The “Right” Grass
Grass grows differently from lake to lake. The type of grass within a particular lake can vary, as well. Finding the “right” grass is important. I have fished lakes where small, isolated patches of grass that can be fished with a Texas-rigged worm will hold fish, and other lakes where big, leafy “cabbage grass” patches that can be fished with a jig are the best spots to target.
Off shore grass will always hold bass in summer. The grass delivers more oxygen to the surrounding water while providing camouflage for the fish. Keep searching for other types of grass if the kind you’re fishing isn’t producing.
If you can find that magic “stinky” grass that grows off shore, you’re in luck, because this type of grass often holds the mother lode of smallmouths. Avid anglers always seek that stuff, and you should too!
Large flats can be very productive in summer. The key is figuring out precisely when the fish are patrolling the flats, as they will move on and off the flats throughout the day to feed. I’ve found that the best flats are ones that offer easy access to deeper, oxygen-rich water, where the fish like to hold once they have fed in the shallows. In other words, look for flats with steep “breaks,” or drop-offs.
Since the fish will move on and off the flats throughout the day, you need to put in time to learn their pattern. Make note of the times when the fish move into shallow water, and hit these areas hard when they do. When they move into deeper spots, they can still be caught; you just need to slow your presentation.
(4.) Offshore Humps
Humps are great areas to fish in summer. They provide a variety of cover for fish, whether it’s rocks, grass or a combination of both. Humps can be very prominent, sometimes rising abruptly from deep water to within a few feet of the surface, or they can be less obvious and hard to find without the aid of GPS and a plotter.
The key to success is locating humps that are just a “little bit different,” such as one that has a sharp break or steep drop-off on one side. Maybe it’s a hump with isolated grass on top, or a hump with one side facing the wind. Not all humps are created equal, and it’s finding and exploiting those unique characteristics that will help you score during the summer.
It’s also important to note that humps will not hold fish in the same spot all day. Rather, the bass will use humps as staging points as they move from deep to shallow, and vice versa. It’s like fishing bridges in a river: the fish aren’t always on the bridges, but when they are, they’re on them hard! When water temps soar, it often pays to target deeper structure for smallies.
(5.) Isolated Structure
I spend a lot of time idling around big off shore areas, studying the bottom with my side- imaging and down-imaging sonar. If I happen upon a rock, stump, or other piece of structure on an otherwise featureless bottom, I will drop a waypoint. Later, I’ll come back and fish these areas carefully. A school of bass will often gang up around a single boulder on a deep flat. Flats have always been go-to summer spots for me, especially for smallmouths on Winnipesaukee, Champlain, and other big northern lakes.
The more time you spend canvassing an area and dropping waypoints on unique features, the more fish you will catch. I sometimes “grid” the entire flat with my GPS then perform crossing patterns up, down and across the flat, dropping waypoints on any piece of bottom structure I mark. Afterwards, I’ll go back and fish the area with a drop-shot rig, or drag a tube or jig around the structure. Not every rock or stump will hold fish, but at some point they will.