The dog days of summer are rapidly approaching here in Missouri. As I type these words, it’s a beautiful spring day, May 12, to be exact, and already the mercury is rising to above 90 degrees in the afternoons. Uuughh!!! I can’t say I’m particularly a big fan of the good ol’ summertime. Those miserable, hot, humid, 100+ degree months can beat you down like a dirty dog and leave you dehydrated, sunburned, and utterly miserable! For many folks, those long, hot weeks are good for nothing but lying low in the shade (or the air conditioning) and trying to patiently cope, all the while praying to God for the hasty arrival of autumn.
Many a fisherman stows away his or her tackle box when the mercury rises to the top of the thermometer during those blistering hot days of summer, or at least limits his/her time on the water to just those few cooler hours at dusk and dawn, or, strictly adheres to night fishing to beat the heat. The idea of going bass fishing, or any kind of fishing for that matter, during such torturous daytime temperatures, seems like an activity fit for the insane. Well, my friends, I reckon that puts me in the category of the “plum crazy,” because I’m here to tell you that you can, indeed, catch fish, mighty big fish, during the extreme heat of the middle of the day, right smack-dab in the middle of the summer. But of course, there are certain tactics, principles, and precautionary measures that one must implement for such an endeavor.
For starters, to catch fish in any extreme weather condition, one has to “think like a fish,” as they say. Now this does not mean to limit your thought processes to the capabilities of a pea-sized brain and only think of eating, fighting, and spawning, as most fish (and some people) do, but rather, one simply has to consider where a fish will be and how that fish will behave in those far less-than-optimal conditions. It’s really not that much different from what we humans do in similar situations.
Think of it like this, if it’s hotter than hell and you’ve worked hard all day, are you really going to want to spend even more time out in the smothering heat? Would you truly feel like putting forth a maximum effort to cook up a big, nutritious meal for dinner? Would you genuinely desire the rest of your day to be spent in yet even more energy-depleting, calorie-sucking activity? Most likely not.
Now imagine this scenario for a moment: a long, miserable day has come to an end and you’ve put in plenty of honest work. You’re exhausted and only want to kick back in a nice cool place, grab a frosty beverage of your choice, and take it easy. While recovering from the day’s toil in your favorite chair, the doorbell suddenly rings and you find a friendly neighbor dropping off a huge platter of barbequed chicken, potato salad, and apple pie…all for you to enjoy! Would you turn down such a feast? Of course, not…it would be bad manners to refuse such an act of charity. I’d bet you’d heartily thank that person for the vittles and rapidly proceed to chow down! Indeed, my friends, that’s exactly what a big fish would do too.
Naturally, the first piece of the puzzle in catching big, summertime bass, is to find them. Believe it or not, it can actually be much easier to find fish in extreme conditions. Just like us, they look for the place or path of least resistance. In the case of hot weather/water and glaring sunshine, look for fish in the same places you’d go in such a setting: cool, shady areas. This could be under some overhanging rock ledges, trees, or other lake/riverside brush, or down in a deep hole/pool. Look for submerged trees, stumps, rocky points, wing damns, thickly forested coves, lily pads, dense aquatic vegetation, etc. Also, very importantly, watch the wind! Concentrate on areas where the wind is blowing into the bank. This cools the water, breaks up the glare, and pushes food into that area.
Essentially, any kind of structure that blocks the sun, provides shade, cools the water temperature and attracts a potential meal will most likely be where the fish are. And the bigger, more secure, and cozier the spot, you can bet that’s where the larger fish will be. Again, when surveying the water on a blistering summer afternoon, simply ask yourself, “Now where would I like to be right now?” Equate that to the fish’s environment, and go there!
Now, the next step is to make that big, lazy bass an offer he can’t refuse. Just like a generously donated palter of barbeque that no one in their right mind would pass up, give that fish a huge, seemingly tasty and nutritious meal that is easy to catch and he’ll go for it. Based on my experience, I have found that nothing fits that description like a large, slowly presented plastic bait of one kind or another. Big plastic worms (7 inches or larger) are my favorite, but crawdads, grubs and virtually any other good-sized, SLOW MOVING artificial (or live) bait will do the trick. Fish these kinds of baits either Texas or Carolina rigged and get ready for action!
While it’s a good idea to stick with lures and baits that look, behave, and smell like something a bass would naturally be attracted to in his home turf, I’ve found that the color, specific shape, etc., really does not make all that much difference. The key, in my opinion, is to get a big, tasty looking, delicious smelling morsel RIGHT IN FRONT of that fish and he’ll most likely eat it, period. Keep this in mind; a big ol’ bass (or any other trophy-sized fish) will expend as little energy as possible and as necessary to catch its dinner. Give that fish a huge chunk of calories with minimal effort, and I guarantee your offering will not be refused…unless that fish is already stuffed to the gills from a previous meal. Again, it is no different for you and me. “The calorie game” applies to all living things.
The final piece of the summertime big bass fishing puzzle applies to the fisherman. Doing anything in extreme heat can be very dangerous, and being that water reflects the sun, you are in even more danger of the ill effects of sun exposure (hyperthermia) on a lake or river. It is nothing to fool around with! If you are going to take to the water during the midday heat, drink lots, and lots, and lots of water all day long. Put on some heavy duty sunscreen, keep the amount of exposed skin to a minimum, wear white, or light colored clothes that do not absorb more heat, and know when to call it quits.
A few more things to consider: I get a lot of funny looks and smart-aleck remarks, but I wear the biggest, goofiest hats I can possibly find when summertime fishing. It’s amazing how much cooler you will stay! Perhaps the fish might even think you are a shade tree and come right to you! I also do most of my bass fishing out of a float tube. It’s a great way to stealthily sneak up on fish in places a regular boat could never get to, and, you stay nice and refreshed in the water, just look out for snakes and snapping turtles! Be creative, think like a fish, and stay cool! That’s all there is to catching some summertime monsters!
Below you will find some of my favorite big bass gear which I have used for years and which have helped me catch many big summer bass. Click on the photos to learn more or to place your order today.