Bass Fishing During The "Dog Days" Of August
Bass fishing during the "dog days" of August can be tough, but it's not impossible. Some of the biggest bass of the year can be caught in the summer. Because a bass's metabolism speeds up as the temperature climbs, they are more active and must feed regularly. But when and where you fish are key, because bass develop particular habits in hot weather. Let's look at some different approaches to hot weather fishing.
If pond fishing is your thing, it can be very productive during the early morning and late afternoon hours. Summer bass are scattered and as the water temperature rises into the 80's hot weather fishing can get tough. The bass are still there and if you can find them you can catch them. And as I stated in the opening paragraph, largemouth bass don't stop feeding when it's hot. They feed continuously. Some bass will remain shallow or close to shallow water while others retreat to deeper water structure. This month, you'll likely find summer bass in shallow grass and other vegetation, on ledges, on deep structure or suspended over structure. I like to start out with a lipless crankbait, like a Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap in chrome. I prefer the 1/8 ounce size for pond fishing. As the sun heats up the water, I'll usually switch to a worm or lizard and fish deeper, cooler water.
Lake and river fishing can be productive all day long. If you prefer fishing at Lake Martin or Lake Jordan, summertime bass suspend passively in the vicinity of ledges, river-channel junctures, and other main-lake structures. But when the dam pulls water to generate electricity, the current wakes these bass up like a dinner bell ringing. They move tight to those structures and surprise shad disoriented by the sudden flow. This generation often happens in the morning, when air conditioners in homes and businesses come on and suck up electricity, but it can happen throughout the day when the temperature spikes.
When the water is moving, bass will face into the current, so cast upstream and retrieve your baits with the flow. Deep-diving crankbaits, Carolina rigs, and heavy spinnerbaits that weigh 1/2 ounce or more should draw hard strikes. Time it right and you can catch limits of heavy bass in minutes.
If you can go without sleep, you immediately pick up an advantage. On clear lakes like Martin, that endure heavy boat traffic during the day, bass feed mainly after dark in hot weather. The best fishing typically takes place near midnight, after the water has settled down from the day's turmoil. Some bass move into the shallows at night, for feeding, while others simply concentrate along specific structure such as a point, roadbed, hump or a creek channel.
Fisherman who swear by topwaters such as poppers or buzzbaits, spend their time fishing shallower water areas at night, especially areas with vegetation or timber. Bass can see against the background of the sky, but a little vibration or noise doesn't hurt to get extra attention. It can also help to vary the size of the blade of your buzzbait or the amount of noise made with the topwater until you determine the most productive approach for given conditions. Stick with dark colored lures to enhance the silhouette effect.
If you chose to fish deeper patterns at night, then the hands down choice is to use a lizard or worm. If you want to really get serious about night fishing in this manner, then use a florescent line and black light to help you see line movement. The game plan for deep water night fishing is to first know your area and be sure you can safely navigate to the spot. Secondly, look for typical holding patterns such as a creek channel close to a deeper channel, the end of points adjacent to steep drops and underwater humps. Black, black and blue, or dark brown colors in lizards or worms are favorite choices. It is not a bad idea to try a Carolina rig as well as Texas rig, to see if having the bait a little off the bottom is preferable on a given night, but as with lures, dark colors should always be used in this situation.
Bass that sit deep in the greenery under the sun move to the outside edges of grassbeds at night. Concentrate on aquatic vegetation by targeting them with a black 7 to 8-inch plastic worm or lizard, rigged on a 4/0 worm hook with a 3/8-ounce bullet sinker and a medium-heavy weight rod. The dark, bulky bait creates an obvious silhouette beneath the surface. Don't be delicate about it...jostle the bait and heavy sinker through grass edges to rile up the bass. For nighttime fishing around vegetation, I use no-stretch super lines such as Berkley FireLine and SpiderWire braid. Their great sensitivity allows me to feel when my worm or lizard is on the bottom or ticking over cover. And even though I can't see the line, I know instantly when a bass has grabbed the bait.
You can use a light color lure at night, such as white or chartreuse, if you are fishing lights around docks, boathouses or marinas, but very few people leave their lights on anymore. The last time I fished Lake Martin at night, I was fishing with a friend of mine who lived on the lake. We had a very hard time finding any lights on. He finally called a friend of his who turned his lights on for us, and within minutes of arriving, we started catching bass. We had several other boats spot these lights from a distance and come in to fish them, only to leave when they saw us. An hour later, as we were leaving, his friend turned the lights off. It certainly isn't like it was 10 - 15 years ago, when everyone left their dock lights on.
The main thing you have to do to enjoy fishing during hot-weather months is to pick the period of the day that suits your preference and then plan a strategy that is most likely to succeed during that period.
If you get the chance this summer, take a young person fishing and you may instill in them the love of this great sport.
Next month, dove season signals the official opening of hunting season. We will look at hunting these speedsters in detail, from ways to pick the best spot on a dove field to shotgun loads and decoys, so don’t miss it.