What areas of your favorite lake should you concentrate on when summer temperatures soar and
bass are less aggressive? Here are the seven best places to find and catch hot-weather bass.
1. Deepwater Humps And Hilltops
As summer fish move deeper onto humps and other bottom structure, it’s time for you to pull out the marker buoys and go to work. Use several markers to define a ridge and mark the structure on each break, dropping them some 10 to 15 feet away from any fish detected. In this situation, your eyes to the bottom are electronics. Interpreting readings from depthfinders is what locating deepwater bass is all about. To properly analyze readings, it’s vital that you know the habits of the various fish species. For example, shad generally appear as a large mass, crappie tend to stack vertically and largemouth appear as a group of individual signals related to the humps.
It’s also important to know which soil types hold summer bass and where to find these types. For example, a third-bottom marking on a chart recorder tells you hard bottom is present. Should the double-bottom tracing disappear completely, you know the soil is most probably soft. Bass prefer humps with the former.
During summer, largemouth bass on deepwater humps or submerged hilltops in 20 to 40 feet of
water are easier to catch. Position the boat off the hump side with the less severe drop-off. Cast to the peak of the hump. Work the bait down the drop for maximum action.
In the summer, brushpiles in middepths are magnets to bass. Large-mouth on such spots are
particularly active during high sun. They’ll hold beside a brushpile in 10 to 20 feet of water. Even an isolated submerged stick in 15 feet of water may harbor a big largemouth. To pinpoint these spots, most anglers will use electronics and the careful ones will “fine tune” their units to expose both baitfish, brush and bass.
When you’re viewing a chart recorder picture of brush and fish, carefully analyze the inverted “V” markings adjacent to .the cover. The more peaked the marks, the more directly the transducer (and boat) is over the fish and brushpile.
You can more readily be assured of locating bass on a brushpile by the presence of deep water
nearby. Search the depths from 8 to 25 feet for schools holding on submerged brush or timber.
Check out all changes in elevation where there’s wooded cover. For example, brush in a submerged slough or ditch will hold bass in the summer months.
Fishing a Texas-rigged worm or jig and grub through submerged brush is a classic hot-weather
pattern. In extremely deep water, a jig-and-eel or Carolina-rigged worm may be more effective
around the brushpile. Try to work brush along its major trunk axis with the boat positioned about 20 to 30 feet off the smallest limbs.
3. Creek Beds
A submerged creek bed that has a ridge or “flat” adjacent to it is a prime hot-weather spot. Such areas provide bass with a holding place where shad cruise. Bass will hold on ambush points formed by creek bends along routes normally followed by shad.
Find the creek channels that baitfish move along, and you’ll find bass. Breaks or elevation changes along the creek or slough that winds near a submerged road are ideal for a concentration of largemouth. Summer months are generally the easiest to pin down such a concentration. Position the boat “downstream” of any bend, if any current exists. Cast above the bend and drop the bait into the depths at the turn.
Creek bass in a school can be very competitive and, correspondingly, aggressive. Those “home alone” are also active as water temperature rises. When the temperature is stable, however, pay close attention to your line and lure. An individual bass may be more cautious when striking.
The depths in submerged creeks vary greatly. Along a creek bed, the best spot is often at the outer bends which generally are at the deepest part of a creek and which contain bottom structure such as sunken trees or rocks.
4. Hydrilla Clumps
Clumps of hydrilla in 8 to 14 feet of water contain overlooked bass when temperatures are highest. Even in clear, calm water under a midday sun, bass in such places will gobble up soft-plastic jerk worms and other slow-moving fare. If the waters are smooth and clear, you’ll probably want to position the boat farther away from the action. Longer casts may be necessary.
Again, sonar is a good way of finding such vegetation when it’s submerged. But if you don’t have the right electronics, use a lure to bump into aquatic plant structure — vibrating plugs work well. Then, simply toss your plug in the same direction repeatedly, and you have a good chance of again contacting hydrilla and a nearby bass.
When fishing a worm over, and in, such cover, you can get a clue to the most optimal sinker weight from experimentation. That seems to be critical in teasing a strike around hydrilla clumps. A 1/8 ounce bullet-shaped worm weight may be ideal for submerged clumps at certain depths; a 1/4 ounce simply too heavy. The latter may sink deeply into shallow submerged plants. Too light a weight may not achieve the depth as rapidly when fishing deeper hydrilla.
Natural lakes often possess some sort of weedline. In the summer, bass quickly establish an
“edge-type” pattern. They move from shallow interior vegetation and post-spawn patterns to
weedlines near a drop-off to set up home.
In general, work the points prior to checking out other portions of the edge. In lakes with an extensive weedline, forget about working the entire weedline. Take a look at the shore. Many times, the shoreline can give you a good indication of the best area to search in a lake where all plant growth may look alike.
Rat-L-Traps and other vibrating plugs produce well on hot-weather bass that inhabit weed edges.
Crankbaits and soft-plastic rigs create some excitement as well. Position the boat about 20 feet off the line and cast ahead of the boat, retrieving the lure parallel with the edge or
near the vegetation.
Still another prime hotspot for summer bass lies in a canal. Many times, the best area in a canal is at its mouth. Many canals have been dug at a constant depth; few are the same depth as that of the lake or river they enter. At the point where the canal digging ends, you can often find a 55 to 10-foot drop and good bass habitat nearby.
Many rivers and lakes in the South have numerous canals with good fishing at their mouths. The depths vary, ranging from 10 to 20 feet. Many times “holes” have been dug deeper than the lake or canal to obtain a good start on fill for the dikes.
The same applies to intersections of canals. A depth search may locate a 5- to 17-foot instant drop. Position the boat in the larger water body and cast across the mouth of the canal entrance. Retrieve so that the lure moves along any drop present.
7. Floating Cover
In highly enriched waters, floating cover peaks in the late summer. Hyacinths, water lettuce and duckweed, for example, float around the lake at the discretion of the wind and emergent structure. Other canopy-makers grow on a stem from either the lake or river bottom or from the shoreline and lay out a cover on the water’s surface. Summer bass frequent such spots.
Birds are a key to finding some of the better floating plant areas where large bass lurk. Our feathered friends seek such aquatic habitat to feed. If birds feed and walk around on floating vegetation, there must be small bugs, worms, etc., in those plants. And, of course, it’s easy to figure out what might be below.
Older floating canopies that have been in one spot hold the most food. Under the birds may be large bass, eager for a feathered meal. Largemouth will definitely attack birds when possible. Many anglers have seen swirls and splashes beneath birds that were tip-toeing along on surface vegetation. Bass will miss their targets, but if you’re quick, you can get a cast in close to the action and maybe score on the predator.
Insect-hunting and weed-eating birds will tip you off to the presence of baitfish. Egrets and herons working a bank of aquatic weeds mean that minnows are present. They may be moving just beneath the plants, where the larger bass can get at them. To get in on action under the bird life, fish parallel to the floating cover if at all possible.
These are some of the most productive places to fish for summer bass action. Knowing the optimal lure selection and technique to use in each spot will enable you to enjoy great fishing through the hottest months.