When the water is cool in the springtime, catching bass is fairly simple. Bass are cruising shallow water and will strike almost anything to bulk up for spawning.
But, in the summertime don’t expect that the same lures and tactics will work. Increasing water temperature changes the behavior of Bass and the food they eat. So, your success depends on your ability to adapt as well.
- Hard Baits
- Soft Baits
- Early Summer
- Mid Summer
- Late Summer
After spawning, as temperatures rise into the 80’s, bass move from the shallows to deeper cooler water. How deep they go typically depends on the body of water and O2 levels. But, one thing is certain they’re going to head to the closest spot where their needs are met. There they will find safety and security under cover, in holes, and among grass mats.
The bass then sit in hiding patiently waiting for their prey to venture into open water for an opportunistic strike. They’ll feed, but tend to be less aggressive as the summer progresses.
They still need to eat though. And triggering a lounging bass to strike in the dog days of summer takes a bit more work and ingenuity.
We’ll get into the why and how below, but first let’s get familiar with the bait and lures you’ll want in your tackle box this summer.
Strike King Finesse KVD Spinner
The spinner bait, with its shiny metal blades and waving skirt, accomplishes the task of getting a bass’ attention by itself.
Strike King’s Finesse KVD spinner comes in ½-ounce and 3/8-ounce options, though the 3/8-ounce spinner is a bit more versatile. The colors mimic bait fish better than many other spinnerbaits, and the contrast between skirt and tail attracts more attention.
Simply cast it to the bank and swim it back to the boat, or pull it along the side of weeds and lilies. Altering the speed of the retrieve will vary the spinner’s depth in the water column.
Cast the spinner past cover like logs and stumps, and reel toward them steadily. A slight bump into the cover can trigger a strike.
SPRO Aruku Shad Lipless Crankbaits
The rattling lipless crankbait is an old standby in warm-weather bass fishing because it gets attention and triggers reaction strikes.
The SPRO Aruku Shad is different from its peers, though, in that it dives nose down to mimic a feeding baitfish. The colors are varied and realistic, and there is an Aruku Shad to match any baitfish in any lake or pond.
Cast these rattlers near heavy cover or shade, where bass bed down and wait out the hottest parts of the day. In this mode, bass are opportunistic, and the Aruku Shad will instigate aggressive bites from the territorial predators.
They are not so much weedless, as they are weed-resistant, but they are tough and will last years if not lost. The Gamakatsu treble hooks are razor sharp and tough, and the lifelike paint is resilient. If the bass are hunkered near where the Aruku Shad comes to rest, they will hit it.
Booyah Pond Magic Buzz Bait
The buzz bait is a classic attention getter. And, it works when other lures fail to convince the big fish to bite. The bait rises to the surface and its blade slaps the water as it is reeled, attracting fish in the surrounding area.
Matching the local forage is critical, so either learn your pond’s bait species or carry a variety of colors.
At just 1/8 ounce, the Booyah Pond Magic Buzz is a bit smaller than the typical buzz bait, making it perfect for pond fishing or for casting in small canals and bayous.
From a boat, cast out to banks beyond grass mats and pull across them without slowing down. The blade keeps weeds at bay while the buzz bait is in motion, but stopping increases the chances of snagging.
Bass will chase these baits through the weeds, so let it sink once it is free before buzzing it again.
Berkley PowerBait Power Worm
The classic plastic worm has been catching summer bass for generations. Berkeley’s Power Worm, from its PowerBait line, adds some modern tech to improve the chance of a strike from a lethargic bass.
The segmented front section provides a natural look, while the ribbon tail gives the Power Worm a natural motion when pulled through the water. No need for a beginner to twitch and time pulls; the Power Worm simplifies the presentation. In skilled hands, though, these things come to life.
Texas or Carolina rig these worms and fish them any time of day. Having a variety of bullet weights on hand will help alter their rate of drop through the water column.
With the sun overhead, look for shady spots and deeper holes. Rigged properly, these worms are weedless, so throw them to grass mats and lily patches. Let them fall and get ready for a strike.
In clear water, choose a natural-color worm with green, brown or chartreuse in the pattern.
In lower visibility, choose a color darker than the water — such as black or blue. The darker colors produce a silhouette effect that attracts lurking bass.
Strike King Tour Grade Football Jig and Rage Tail Craw (Jig and Craw)
This take on the classic jig and pig method gets attention from bass when nothing else seems to be working.
Rather than hooking on a pork frog trailer, a plastic craw trailer often better matches the bass’ forage. Strike King’s Tour Grade Football Jig provides great feel. It has a 60-degree, round-bend hook and comes in weights from .375 ounce to 1 ounce.
This take on the classic jig and pig method gets attention from bass when nothing else seems to be working. Rather than hooking on a pork frog trailer, a plastic craw trailer often better matches the bass’ forage.
Strike King’s Tour Grade Football Jig provides great feel. It has a 60-degree, round-bend hook and comes in weights from .375 ounce to 1 ounce.
The Football Jig dives while its skirt flutters in the water. As it settles on the bottom, the crayfish’s claws rise, mimicking the defensive posture that prey species naturally takes.
Strike King’s Rage Tail Craw works best in warm water because the pincers provide plenty of action.
They rip through the water and make the glugging sound anglers appreciate. The newer versions have a coffee scent to get even more attention.
Match the colors of the jig and the craw to the local forage. In muddy waters, use darker colors.
It is also a good idea to have several jig weights on hand, swimming the lighter ones and using the heavier ones to penetrate heavy cover. Watch the line carefully as the jig descends near cover, and be ready for an ambush strike.
Starting the Summer Right
The transition from spring to summer bass tactics vary by geographic location. Anglers in the north will be able to run spring gear and tactics well into the first part of summer. However, those of you in The South will need to adapt much sooner. It all depends on how the water temperature changes where you’re fishing.
The following chart illustrates approximate temperatures and how they trigger / impact bass behavior as spring turns to summer.
|Below 50 Degrees||In deep water, rarely feeding.|
|At ~50 Degrees||Spawning prep begins. Heading for shallow water – feeding heavily.|
|55 to 65 Degrees||Spawning in very shallow water. Little to no feeding.|
|55-75 Degrees||Post spawn – Heavy recovery feeding heading for cover|
|55-85 Degrees||Hiding out – Opportunistic Feeding|
As you can see there are a lot of transitions in location during spring and early summer. So you’ll need to experiment a bit and change up your strategy as water conditions and behaviors change. The good news is that during the spring (and fall) the food sources for bass are typically in shallower water near shore. That means bass will be fairly easy to find.
Triggering Strikes in Mid Summer
Once higher water temps stabilize in the summer bass behavior is somewhat more consistent and predictable. They like to hide and prefer deeper cooler location. So does the food they eat. Bluegill and shad are both good bait and good indicators of where bass are hiding.
There are two other factors, however, that will affect where bass head during the summer heat. The first is water clarity. In murky waters you’ll find that bass aren’t seeking out the depths they would if water was clear.
The second variable that creates a virtual floor for bass and other species is Oxygen levels. In many locations O2 levels are low in deeper water – and bass seem to be extremely sensitive to the amount of Oxygen available.
So when it comes to summer bass fishing the key is to figure you where they’re hiding and coax them out from the cover. You’ll need to get your lure near where they are hiding and then trigger a strike.
Generally speaking, bass strike when hungry. But they will also strike in anger or when startled. So in the depth of summer heat you’ll want to either appear out of nowhere and cause a commotion or look so good they can’t pass up the opportunity.
Tip: For an opportunistic strike think softbait behind a Carolina rig fished deep along the bottom or just above the grass. For shock and awe use buzzbaits, frogs, poppers to make a commotion on the water’s surface. We love to run a frog pattern popper on a fly rod during summer on rivers like the John Day in Oregon. It’s insane.
Other than that you’ll just have to pay attention to other species. The bass will become active when their prey becomes active, so your other opportunity will be mingling with bait species when light or temperature changes. But, this is a little more tricky than shocking a bass into a strike.
Late Summer into Fall
As the temperatures start to drop bass will do two things. Follow their food source and prep for winter.
As species like Bluegill and Shad move out of the deep water and head for more tolerable temps in cooling shallow water; bass will follow suit. They also know that winter is coming so they’ll need to fatten up for the long haul.
The late summer looks a lot like a reverse version of spring to summer. There’s just no spawning involved, so feeding will be a higher priority over a longer period.
Look for bass under docks or chasing forage species like shad into coves and small shallow bays. Despite the cooling water and air temps of late summer, we tend to see bass fishing heat up during this transition.