A Simple Strategy for Big Summer Bass
“Big Bass Burnouts” Often in life, when it comes to strategy, the same rule applies to everything; whether playing a game of rugby or fishing for big bass. That rule is simply known by the acronym K.I.S.S, or Keep It Simple Stupid – Bruce Cooke
Often in life, when it comes to strategy, the same rule applies to everything; whether playing a game of rugby or fishing for big bass. That rule is simply known by the acronym K.I.S.S, or Keep It Simple Stupid.
Whilst we all hope we’re not stupid it’s the former part of the acronym we must apply to our fishing strategy by looking at the simple things that make us tick and applying the same principals to our fishing technique.
As the summer months approach we all start improving our catches as it’s not only us who love a hot summer’s day. Before the peak of summer arrives it may seem like bass can’t stay of your hook and they will eat almost anything you throw at them. Sometimes, when the really hot summer days set in, you start to doubt yourself and wonder where all the bass have gone. The truth is they are all still there but you may have to change your strategy and presentation to get their attention. Once you’ve figured out what the bass are doing you can catch them on even the hottest of days. Though we may all differ in biological make-up most creatures under the sun will seek out a bit of shade on a sweltering day. It’s applying this strategy to your fishing that may up your game; and as simple as it sounds obviously there is more at play than just a burning sun.
Topwater lures can be effective on these really hot and still days. Summertime brings life to an aquatic ecosystem and its surrounding grass and wetlands. Fish, frogs, small mammals and insects all increase activity as the days heat up and breeding cycles commence. On these days we often erroneously assume bass move out into deeper water where it may be cooler though this is not always the case. Topwater lures fished slowly in the shallows more often than not get the attention of the bigger fish out for an easy meal. Like humans and mammals, fish love a shady spot on a hot day. Bass will also use the darkness of this shade and their natural camouflage to lie in ambush for unsuspecting prey, and whilst their summer metabolism is naturally on a high the rule of ‘bigger is better’ still applies. This is not to say that bass won’t hit a smaller lure but I like to go a bit bigger as I believe even fish’s eyes are too big for their stomachs’ and the tempt of expending less energy on more food is one they can’t resist. Big top-water lures like the super spook or the 5.0 StutterStep are the way to go in these instances.
Always target the shaded side of the structure first but don’t ignore the opposite as long as you’re fishing tight to cover. As the day progresses target really thick weed and vegetation as this always makes a nice haven for lazy bass. Alternate to flipping or pitching heavy, Texas rigged creature baits or weed-less jigs into the thickest of cover. This type of angling is not for the faint of heart and requires some stout tackle. Braid of a minimum 40lb breaking strain is essential for its weed cutting ability and horsing big fish from deep cover. Creature baits and large weed-less skirted jigs bulk out in the water, presenting a larger meal, and heavy bullets or jigs are needed to penetrate the cover.
“I believe even fish’s eyes are too big for their stomach” Always target the shaded side of the structure first
Another hot summer’s day technique is the use of noisy, large presence baits. If you’re battling to get any action on top-water and heavy pitching into thick cover is not productive then the likes of a spinnerbait or a larger squarebill crankbait is the way forward. Big bladed spinnerbaits or rattling square bills might raise a reaction bite out of a lazy fish. Too many anglers give up on these baits when after twenty casts they haven’t raised a strike. It may be the twenty first cast, or the fiftieth that proves the undoing of a big fish, as happened recently when at the eleventh hour on final day of a competition I caught numerous bass, one over five kilograms, by persisting with a square bill. The day was hot, the water was dirty and the fishing had generally been difficult. By following this strategy, moving into the shallows and fishing tight cover, numerous fish, including the ‘big un’ were ‘persuaded’ to come on board resulting in a last minute individual aggregate ‘win’.
Warm water temperatures make fish feed more aggressively because their metabolism speeds up. On the hottest days, because we’re all inherently lazy, bass will often feed more actively at night during and you’ll find that early mornings and last light become productive. During the wee and late hours open water between cover and structure is the area to target, I believe because the sun casts longer shadows and prey becomes easier to pinpoint. This combined with cooler temperatures is ideal for using your favourite search bait; plugging away at the gullies between shore and anthill or weed bank.
To sum up I think the key to busting big bass on scorching days is to fish the obvious bait holding channels between structure at sunup and sunset. During the day fish the areas where bass can lie up in ambush in the shade. These areas are not always deep offshore areas but often the shallow shoreline structures and banks of thick vegetation. I can’t remember the times I’ve heard of, and experienced, a situation where the shade side of a single tree in the middle of nowhere, in five feet of water, has produced a trophy bass. It is also important to remember that the hotter the day and water temperature the more lazy a bass can become. It often takes a slow presentation of your bait, or multiple casts at a particular structure to trigger that strike! Good luck and tight lines.