The spawn is over, the days are heating up and the big fish are becoming rarer than just a few weeks ago. Where have they gone? The answer is back to the places they were before the pre-spawn and spawn took over their brains.
Bass are a creature of comfort and predation. The hardest part about finding and catching the bigger fish during the summer is the number of active and aggressive smaller fish. Those fish that had been dormant during the cold-water months are now aggressively feeding in this new warm water world they find themselves in.
Larger bass can be aggressive don’t get me wrong, they can also get lazy. With the new abundance of food in the system they don’t have to work as hard for their meals. Large fish are very territorial. They like to be comfortable; temperature, safety and ease of food all factor in to where you will find them in summer.
Covering large amounts of water this time of year doesn’t always equate to bigger fish. Slowing down and picking an area apart can be your best tactic. You will need to really dissect the area you are fishing.
Points, wood, boulders, grass mats, and steep bluffs these are all great places to find big fish in the summer. They all have important aspects for holding good fish. You will just have to pick them apart to find exactly what part of each is holding the fish you want. The one big common denominator is structure.
Grass mats can be the one truly hard cover to pick apart simply because of the vastness of them. I try to focus on smaller mats that are isolated from other cover. I feel this gives me the best chance to pick the mat apart without losing my mind.
Next up on the difficulty scale will be points. Finding exactly where the bigger fish are on a specific point can be tough. The smaller fish can use these areas efficiently as well. I mostly believe this bigger fish like water temps a little cooler than smaller fish. That in mind I will try deeper parts of the point before I move shallow. The exception to this in low light conditions (early morning, evening). The exact reason points can be so good is their ease of movement to the shallows for feeding.
Boulders are some of my favorite big fish spots on lakes. They have shade pockets, cover and attract bait fish. Most big fish can find a spot on or near a boulder that will be home summer home. Picking them apart can be on the easier side of things. Normally I use the sun as my guide. Fish the shade pockets and the down current side of big boulders.
Steep bluffs hold fish, finding big fish here can be a chore but when you find them likely there will be a few of them. Bluffs allow for easy movement and an abundance of food options. Finding schools of fish here is a great possibility. Fish have a tendency to school in groups of the same size so if you catch a big one doesn’t just pass through stick it out a bit you might find some others.
Wood! Who doesn’t like to fish wood for bass? Vertical, lay-down, brush it all holds fish. Wood is also one of the easiest to pick apart. In the summer, you just need to figure out where that big girl has claimed her spot on the structure.
Open up your box, pick your favorite lure tie it on and go fishing! All right it might not be that simple, or is it? Probably not but close.
Baits this time of year are relevant but much less than in colder times. Reason being is the sheer volume of forage in the water. Frogs, shad, bluegill, trout, baby bass, etc….
Using the bait that can get you the biggest fish in an area now that’s another story. This time of year, I feel there are two major forage that big fish will react to best, crawdads and frogs. I’ll expand a bit on frogs, I mean big top water forage, Mice, Rats, birds, and frogs.
Using big topwater baits early in the morning and in the evening can get you some big fish. Frogs over grass mats equal big fish, frogs over open water can get big fish.
Crawdad imitations in summer are my number one go to bait. Punching mats, hopping down bluff walls, dragging across boulders, throwing on points and of course picking apart wood.
I’m not going to guarantee you catch big fish this time of year, some don’t but hopefully this information can help you unlock some of the mysteries of the summer transition.
See You on the water!
James “Big Ed” Everhart