I have caught a lot of quality bass this month. July has been unseasonably cool, but still, it's July and not generally a great bass fishing month. The heat has returned and I am still landing good bass.
I have been slowly jigging Motor-Oil colored Gitzet Tube Jigs, dropped to the bottom and then lightly jigged while the boat drifts. The bass have responded with attacks, good fights and immediate release. My productive depths are between 15- to 20-foot depths. I have concentrated on rocky points and secondary points that have some rocks and it is working.
WHY POINTS? Points and secondary points are special to bass fishermen during extremely hot or cold weather periods.
Points may be small or long and large, but either size will hold warm-weather bass. After the spawn, bass move into ambush points for easy meals where they are exceptional predators. Warmer water moves schools of shad up into shallow water and bass wait and then pounce. Crawfish around rocky areas seal the deal.
Points come in many forms: mud, rocks, timber, boat docks and other places where cover offers safety. Many of these areas may be connected to a point or two. The key is knowing what to look for and right now it’s rocks, especially when some vegetation is close.
GRASS POINTS: Grass points are excellent ambush areas. Bass hide inside the grass line and wait for an unsuspecting baitfish to pass by. Then they savagely hit the shad or small perch, rendering it dead or stunned, let it sink and then casually take it.
When bass hit your crankbaits or topwater, chances are your treble hooks will snag it. But if not, let it sit with some soft twitches. I love to fish crankbaits or topwater around grass this time of year. Spinnerbaits are productive too.
TIMBERED POINTS: Throughout warm weather, timber lines from 3- to 15-foot depths of water hold bass. You might have to move around crappie fishermen who occasionally hook bass with minnows or jigs. I love to fish crankbaits and spinnerbaits around trees.
But plastic worms are extremely good. You would be surprised how many bass have been caught from narrow shadows cast by trees on sunny, hot days on slowly fished plastic worms.
ROCKY POINTS: Experts claim that rocky points may be the best warm-water bass holding structure. Shad- or crawfish-colored crankbaits are extremely effective. Some experts live and die by Tennessee shad-colored lures. Most fish along rocks with deep diving crankbaits.
Make sure you bump the rocks and occasional stumps. Hits often come after the bump. I like topwater and spinnerbaits around rocks just after sunrise or just before sunset. Years ago, Bill Odle and I caught and released 30 bass on black Jitterbugs after the sun had set.
MUD AND SAND POINTS: You will likely not find a lot of visible structure on mud or sand points. But chances are there will be submerged logs or rocks. This is another good case for fishing buzz baits or topwater lures, especially late at night or early in the morning.
Few outdoor activities can equal a big bass busting the surface while chasing your lure. This lightning-quick act of fish violence literally takes your breath away.
A key to catching summer topwater bass is stealth. Big bass are very sensitive to foreign sounds, shadows on the surface or other unnatural circumstances. They know when something is out of place or wrong in their world.
Some anglers sneak around shorelines on ponds or small lakes like they are hunting deer. They move in low, sometimes crawling to avoid presenting their huge shadow on the water. This may seem silly, but it results in more bass caught from ponds.
Bass in shallow water of big lakes or small impoundments will quickly spook at sudden shadows or anything different. They did not survive their world of eat or be eaten without being cautious. It is not uncommon to catch bass in areas you could wade in. They move into the shallow water in search of food.
Timing is another important factor. Late evening or early morning is normally good for topwater fishing. Bass begin feeding when the surface is darker. They are least likely to be active when a hot summer sun is beating directly down on their shallow world.
I have actually observed bass caught from the shadows of thin trees. They moved behind tree shadows to avoid the sun's intense light. The hits were light, but resulted in several bass caught on a 100-degree day.
Topwater could be the best warm-water offering. They literally float over the junk and will draw big bass from their hiding spots.
SUGGESTED TOPWATER LURES: I love to twitch balsa minnows like the Rebel or Rapala. I simply cast beyond stumps, docks or other cover and twitch it over these structures, pause, then twitch again. Bass occasionally come out of the water to hit these offerings.
At night try black or brown Jitterbugs, Hula Poppers or Zara Spooks. You can make plenty of noise for attention with all three offerings.
The Jitterbug and Hula Popper are meant to imitate injured frogs. The Zara Spook imitates a wounded baitfish or perhaps a small injured snake.
Bass love an easy meal. They would rather waste less energy on forage that does not move fast like a healthy species. Yes, they will take a healthy victim, but prefer convenience in a slowly moving meal. You can provide this by adding twitches and occasional pauses on smaller waters.
Buzzbaits are extremely effective in larger ponds or small lakes. This big-bladed spinner makes a gurgling sound during steady retrieves. Bass really make a commotion while striking this noisy lure.
Diving crankbaits on the surface can also be good, but they normally still pick up moss. A surface lure that dives is the best because you can work it back in, pausing to let it float up over big moss or weeds. I like to use dark colors in the summer.
DEPTH FINDER: Some points are visible while others are not. Submerged points are detected by depth finders. For example, you might find a creek channel that passes through grass beds, hits the main river channel and then forms a submerged point. All experts will tell you that this is one of the most productive points. Find such an area and fish it hard with plastic worms and crankbaits.
Many of you do not have the luxury of a depth finder. You are limited to looking for visible points.
Kenneth Kieser, a veteran outdoors writer and member of the Waterfowlers Hall of Fame and National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, writes a weekly outdoors column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org