A friend recently invited me to fish for bass with him – in midday when the temperature was in the high 90s. I believe my first comment was, “Are you nuts?”
But we went anyway because I’m nuts and we caught several nice bass. We had the lake to ourselves because most people were smarter than us and tucked somewhere in air conditioning. But this did prove my theory that you can catch bass in almost any condition – including extreme heat or cold.
We are enduring a strange summer with exceptionally hot temperatures early in the post-spawn season. But these conditions can set up additional structure possibilities like tree limbs hanging in the water with hungry bass suspended and waiting for a critter to drop in for lunch. Fishermen find post spawn can be a difficult time to catch bass. Bass have regrouped to a consistent set of patterns. Points and flats become daily feeding areas.
Warm-weather anglers that know how and where to flip and pitch, use topwater lures, throw crankbaits or Carolina rigs. The secret is giving bass what they want.
The following tips will provide an advantage in your next hot-weather bass fishing excursion:
TOPWATER FISHING: Experienced bass fishermen find the early or late morning bite important for fishing topwater lures. Bass enter the shallows to search out shad during cooler hours. Then they return to deeper water and suspend under clouds of shad, especially during hot weather. Cloudy days with rain keep the bass on shallow points or flats longer.
On grassy lakes I use buzzbaits, Zara Spooks, Pop-R’s and soft jerk baits. This group offers a good profile and proper speed of retrieve. Hot weather raises bass metabolisms. A fast-moving buzzbait is excellent in this situation. Cooler conditions like overcast days merit the side to side motion of a Zara Spook. Try dropping down to a Pop-R or jerk bait for the slowest presentation.
In rocky lakes with clear water, start off with a buzzbait when minnow activity is visible. The bass are likely chasing minnows and will attack a fast mover. Next return to the Zara Spook or Pop-R when visible minnow activity is limited or non-existent.
Bass stack on rocks in hot weather. The slower topwater lures are productive when passing over different rock-ledge levels of strike zones. Try experimenting with different retrieve speeds when fishing rocks. Slower topwater presentations are frequently more productive in clear water.
Many fishermen put down a topwater lure when the day becomes hot. There are times when I successfully fish on top all day in hot conditions. Major-minor feeding periods determine when I fish topwater all day.
A clear, rock lake like Missouri’s Table Rock is a good example. Bass move to different levels of rock to feed. Bass will always move up and take a topwater lure during the hottest summer day during a major feeding period.
Locate points when visiting a new lake. Shallow points are productive early during hot weather. A shallow flat behind the point can be a determining factor. This well-structured point may be located on a feeding flat. Minnow activity is a tell-tale sign of this being a productive area.
Finally, suspended bass of deep water will move up to take a topwater lure, but this is often tough fishing. You can determine more productive fishing by graphing where suspended tree limbs start. Bass suspend above and around these branches.
CRANKBAITS: Crankbaits are designed to dive and crash into cover and structure. This is important when bass are chasing minnows in hot weather. Throw crankbaits over open-water ledges when bass are suspended off the bank.
Some anglers use a 15-plus diving crankbait when bass suspend away from shadows. This is a small lure that immediately dives straight down and crashes into a lot of cover.
Back your boat off from edges of banks or drop-offs. For example, when a drop runs from 8 to 12 feet, move off 14 or 15 feet and cast over the edges. This allows the crankbait to hit ledge tops and drop 2 to 4 feet before returning to open water.
Crankbaits that stop and suspend are essential when fishing for deep, suspended bass. A suspended lure allows you to stop, twitch and sweep. This shows the bass an injured baitfish that is easy to catch. A grub is also productive here.
Bass are not as likely to suspend deep in stained water. Start in 10 to 15 feet depths. Clear-water bass may be found in 20- to 25-feet depths. Look for creek areas close to old spawning beds with a long protruding point. Bass move out to the long point and stay.
This is a great area for the slow-wobbling crankbaits. The classic Storm Wiggle Wart or the Bomber 7-A are good choices. Reel the crankbait to a tree or log, let it bump and continue. Try not to hesitate at the bump or you will hang up.
PLASTIC WORMS: We have less water than usual this year in some areas due to limited rains. But you may still find tree limbs hanging in the water. I love to drop unweighted Texas rigged plastic worms into the edges of these trees and let it drop to the bottom. Bass and other game fish look for these kinds of spots for easy meals.
Rock ledges are good places for worm fishing now, especially rocks close to deep water. We, too, have caught bass in the shadow of trees.
FLIPPING AND PITCHING: Flipping and pitching are used to target isolated cover. Both techniques are used for areas inaccessible to normal casting. Brush piles, root wads, trees, walkways, under docks, and overhangs under trees are good examples.
Pitching requires backing your boat off 15 to 20 feet from the targeted area to avoid spooking bass. Start by holding the lure in your opposite hand. Use a sweeping motion with your wrist. Release when you bring the rod tip up. Raise your rod tip when the lure reaches the target.
This is a few tips to get you started. Don’t be afraid to experiment with other tactics until the bass tell you want they want.
– 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 email@example.com.