Put More Bass In The Boat!!
With June comes hot weather, but the fishing can be just as hot. Bluegill will bed around the full moon of this month, which falls on the 13th, and the bass are in a feeding mood following the spawn. Last month, we shared some tips on how to improve your bream fishing. In this month's article, we will look at some tactics that should help you put more bass in the boat.
As we move into June and the water warms, the bass gradually shift to deeper water and by the end of the month they will occupy their summer haunts. During each day of this transition, fishing may vary greatly, with bass moving in and out of feeding areas. When fishing Lake Martin and Lake Jordan, I use buzzbaits early around grass beds and fallen trees and then move on to my favorite structure to fish...piers. Shade provides slightly cooler water and bass will move under piers to avoid the sunlight. Fishing a lizard, a finesse worm on a shaky head or a jig is my favorite tactic when trying to catch bass around piers, but I've had success using crankbaits and spinnerbaits as well. One feature I look for is deep water at the end of the pier...8 to 10 feet if possible. Most piers have sunken trees or brush piles around them, which also act as fish attractants, so I start out fishing the outer areas of the pier before actually fishing the pier itself. Many fish will suspend over the submerged brush, which is usually located several feet away from the pier. If you move in to fish the pier first, many fish will actually be under your boat, so start working your bait 10 to 15 feet away from the actual structure. And as an added bonus, the great thing about fishing piers is that you can fish them all day. Just be respectful of the fact that you are fishing around someone else's property. I've heard of fishermen actually getting out of their boat and fishing off of someone's pier. Things like this give all fishermen a bad name, so respect the property you're fishing around and try to be careful where you cast.
Another pattern that develops on Lake Martin in June is that large schools of shad begin showing up around all of the open-water humps and large rock points. Large schools of spotted bass suspend beneath the schools of shad and follow their movements closely. Early morning and late-afternoon fishing around the humps and rock outcroppings can produce some explosive strikes from the abundant spotted bass. Topwater baits such as a Tiny Torpedo, Spittin Image and Zara Spook produce the type of noise and action that the spots prefer.
These fish always put up a good fight, and multiple fish can normally be caught from each school before they spook back below the surface. One easy aspect of chasing these fish is nearly all of the major humps and rock points of Lake Martin are marked with a hazard buoy, so all the best fishing areas are already marked. Just remember the fish around the humps are most active around daybreak and sunset.
Bass fishing is also good in farm ponds this month. Your best fishing tends to be early morning and late afternoon in these smaller bodies of water, but the action can be fast and furious. Spinnerbaits, lizards and worms will all catch fish, but if you've read my articles in the past, you know my favorite pond lure is a lip-less crankbait. The Rattle Trap and Hot Spot are two of the more popular brands, but Rapala and several other manufacturers make a version of this bait. I prefer the 1/8 ounce model in chrome, with either a blue or black back. It doesn't take much skill to use this lure, simply cast it out and reel it back in. You want to use a fairly rapid retrieve to keep the lure off of the bottom, but sometimes a stop and go retrieve is what the fish want. Try reeling it for several yards, stop the reel for a second and then continue reeling. The strike will usually come as you start your retrieve after stopping it.
Bluegills spawn from May through August, but the sunny, warm days of June, with water temperatures in the 75-degree range, are the prime times to pursue these saucer-shaped, scrappy panfish. During this time, male bluegills will build and defend plate-shaped nests, typically 1 to 2 feet in diameter. The females lay eggs in these nests and the males fertilize the eggs, guard them from predators and keep them silt-free by fanning over the eggs with their tails. Soon, a new generation of fast-growing bluegills is swimming around and if there isn't a thinning of the population by fishermen, too many bluegills quickly become a problem. They will become stunted and never reach the desired size for fishermen, which is 8 inches or longer. Like we talked about last month, when looking for big bluegills, start by looking for the plate-shaped spawning beds. Generally, larger nests mean larger bluegills and large quantities of beds mean large numbers of bluegills. While remote, private lakes and farm ponds may provide good bluegill fishing, public waters can provide excellent bluegill fishing too. Anglers play an important role in thinning a lake's bluegill population, so our local public lakes are just as likely to be good bluegill producers as private ponds.
Next month, we will look at ways to catch fish during the heat of the summer. July days can be unbearably hot, but you can still catch fish if you know what to do. We will explore some catfishing tactics as well as other ways to help improve your summer angling. And don't forget...if you get a chance, introduce someone to the sport of fishing.