Many fishermen believe that most fish feed from dusk till dawn during the hot days of summer. The old school crowd preaches that bass move into the shallows to feed during cooler overnight temperatures. While this is true, night fishing is not the only answer for hot-water anglers.
Bass feed throughout the day. The trick is discovering how to catch bass on the hottest days. Bass are feeding opportunists – feeding when food is handy. They are fully active and in fact, aggressive when conditions are right. Discovering thermocline is important for overall hot-weather fishing success.
Lakes go through seasonal water temperature changes. This creates different levels of water temperatures. The water becomes uncomfortably warm on the surface for bass this time of year and brighter than they can tolerate.
Some oxygen content is maintained on the surface in spite of direct sunlight, an important factor for bass comfort and, in fact, survival, explaining why bass can be caught on topwater during evening hours when the water surface is still warm, but not hot.
Several feet below the surface, temperatures are cooler with a good oxygen content. This thermocline is a comfort zone for bass and other fish. During hot weather there is little oxygen content below the thermocline. Most bass are caught at this essential level and so are walleye and other species.
Those with graphs can find underwater cover. Those without can just visibly look for bluffs or rocky points. Then the fun starts.
Take the plastic body off a 1/32- or 1/64-ounce Roadrunner jig and attach a nightcrawler. Break the crawler in half and slip your hook under the nightcrawler’s collar. The hook point can slip and be visible or leave the hook point inside the worm makes it weedless.
Find points or rock bluffs, start about 20 feet from shore and drop the tipped Roadrunner head down to bottom. Current or wind will start your drift. Keep an eye on that rod tip and line. Some bites are light and some solid. What you will catch is anybody’s guess.
During this drift you will feel your jig hitting rocks and brush, that’s perfect. The key is keeping the worm and jig head dragging across the bottom. Over the past week we have caught walleye, largemouth bass, crappie and several big bluegill, no small ones. Keep in mind we are fishing in big fish territory where smaller fish are eaten by big fish.
Next try tipping your Roadrunner head with live minnows. This is a good example of bigger baits catching bigger fish. My wife, Cathy recently caught a 4-pound bass using this technique.
ANOTHER TIP: So, want to sleep in and fish during the hottest times of day? Try humping it. This is a technique I learned 30 years ago in Louisiana and it works very well in Midwestern lakes.
Find 20-plus feet deep flats, drop-offs and humps. Drop your lures or baits where the fish are suspended. Your screen may show black blips all over the right secluded areas, some as deep as 20 feet.
We recently found fish on a hump at 23 feet. The fish were stacked and different sizes made me think a big school of bass.
The crystal-clear monitor showed a connected series of black blips slipping up from the bottom. We turned the boat into position and cast across the hump. I quickly had a hit and missed. Then another hit and soon seven good bass had been caught and released.
This is an excellent area to vertical jig Little George weighted lure or spoons. But the tipped Roadrunner heads with nightcrawlers or minnows worked very well here. We didn’t drop plastic worms, but I am sure they would be worth a try for suspended bass.
HOT WEATHER SPOTS: Rocky points are special to bass fishermen during extremely hot or cold weather periods. Points may be small or long and large. Warmer water moves schools of shad up into shallow water and bass wait and then pounce. Crawfish around rocky areas seal the deal.
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.
Grass points are excellent ambush areas. Bass hide inside the grass line and wait for an unsuspecting baitfish to pass by, creating crankbait or topwater opportunities.
Timber lines from 3- to 15-foot depths hold bass throughout warm weather. Try crankbaits and spinnerbaits around trees. Plastic worms, too, 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.
Make sure you bump the rocks and occasional stumps. Hits often come after the bump. Try topwater and spinnerbaits around rocks just after sunrise or just before sunset
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 buzzbaits or topwater lures, especially late at night or early in the morning.
Fishing in extremely hot or even warm temperatures is dangerous. Constantly drink plenty of water. Dehydration will slip up on you. Remember to use a heavy sunscreen. The sun is unmerciful in an open-topped boat.
We recently fished between eight to nine hours in this intense heat. Make sure you are in good physical shape and well hydrated before trying this extreme version of fishing.
– 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.