Ithoroughly enjoy what bass fishing offers in the peak of summer. The entire fishing experience is so much more intense; the fresh air before sunrise after a night of thunderstorms, the pied, giant and malachite kingfisher’s darting into the shallows to retrieve the bountiful array of fish from the recent spawn, fingerling bass darting along the banks enjoying the abundant insect life, and the odd busting of a larger bass taking advantage of the sprawling growth in amphibious and other aquatic life that is synonymous with summertime.
I believe this is the best time of year to get those polarised sunglasses out and hit the shallows. Polarised lenses remove the glare from the water surface and will give you the advantage of being able to ‘sight fish’ for bass. This on its own is great fun and you can even spot bass up to a full casting length away. These shallow areas will be teaming with life as the water temperatures have now warmed up sufficiently enough to support the activity of the smallest aquatic organisms which in turn attract the larger ones.
I decided to split this series into two parts, as there can be two vastly different strategies to practice in the warmer months. One of them will be super shallow fishing, and the other will be deep water tactics.
For those of you who have yet to try your hand at top water fishing, this will be the time to use it. Bass are the ultimate opportunists and there is nothing quite like a top water lure that’ll put a little swagger into a bass’ interest. But where do you go looking, is it just anywhere in the shallows? Certainly not. Bass are still incredibly mindful of the dangers that shallow waters present to them. They too have prey. Take the legendary fish eagle as an example. You wouldn’t want to be a bass cruising the shallows in open sight if there was a raptor circling above you with the cunning ability and agility to swoop in unnoticed to pluck you from the water like a sitting duck.
So what do bass do to be inconspicuous yet still be able to move through the shallow looking for prey? Bass will use whatever cover is available; lily pads, matted, flooded grass, brush piles and sunken trees, as well as boat docks and over hanging trees. Many anglers are not convinced that these areas can be fished very easily as there is too much chance to get snagged in all that structure. This is why I specifically chose this type of lure to make hay in the shallows – the top water frog!
The variety of frogs available is now vast in terms of colour, shape, size, and swimming action. The largest common advantage of these lures though is their ability not to get snagged up in the heavy cover that you’ll need to be targeting to find your bass. And believe me when I say it – the bass will often be hiding in the deepest, thickest part of the cover to keep away from predators and to ambush their prey.
Here are a few ideas to think about before choosing which frog you’re going to rig up with.
I’m going to venture and say that apart from the SPRO frog the Horny Toad and Fighting Frog are probably the most widely used frogs of the lot. They can be rigged quickly and fished on a fairly quick retrieve to keep them kicking across the surface of the water. As long as those little legs are bubbling across the water, frothing up a trail of bubbles in their wake you’ll be sure to have the attention of a bass in no time at all.
Key factors to remember though are that the above frog lures should be fished on the correct tackle. To make sure the lure imparts the kicking action required you will need use a line that does not sink. Therefore, anglers choose between monofilament and braided line for this purpose. They won’t sink below the surface and destroy the action of the bait.
On the contrary, you will come across areas where there are gaps/holes in the lily pads, or areas that you are targeting. These frogs naturally will sink if you stop your retrieve and this is a great opportunity to let the lure swim down into these holes. But hold on tight and watch your line carefully for any potential bite.
Once the fish does bite you’ll need the advantage of a rod with excellent back bone, or the ability to both set the hook and to haul the bass away from diving deeper into the cover. Haul and reel fast to get the bass’ head up and swimming across the top of the water as quickly as possible.
Do yourself a favour this summer; pack in a couple a toads and head out to your chosen fishing hole with the purposeful intent of tapping into all those heavily covered shallow areas and see what jewels you’ll find hiding there! I can guarantee you’ll very pleasantly surprised.