As the month of August drags on, the heat across much of the United States can be stifling. All dedicated anglers have, at one time or another, found themselves wanting to satisfy the urge to wet a line, but the outside conditions are simply “too hot to fish.”
Some outdoorsmen and women brave the sweltering August sun in search of a bite from a hungry largemouth, but only those who are truly committed to bass fishing—or just plain crazy—are able to endure the heat.
For professional tournament anglers like Kenny Johnson, there’s no other option during practice or tournaments than to hit the water and take every possible measure to keep their cool both mentally and physically.
“Fishing in the middle of summer can be absolutely miserable, especially when there’s no breeze to help cool you off,” says Kenny. “When you’re fishing a tournament or practicing for one, you really don’t have more than two options, and that’s to either quit and go home, or to put your head down and fish.”
Kenny is a young angler who competes on the Costa FLW Series and Bassmaster tournament circuit. He has put in more than his fair share of hours on the water. Kenny began fishing tournaments with his father from a very young age and continued to compete through high school and into college where he founded the University of West Georgia Bass Club.
He now faces off against some of the best anglers in the country on a regular basis and is constantly working to improve his tactics and techniques. Kenny offers us three tips on how to catch bass during the dog days of summer.
1. Find Fish that are Active
“First, look for active fish and throw a crank to see if you can get one to react,” says Kenny. “If you can get those active fish to bite, you can bounce around from spot to spot and get your limit.”
Kenny says bass will likely hold in deep water where the temperatures are cooler than those on the surface. There are a number of different kinds of crankbaits that will be effective depending on the area you are fishing and the particular color combination that enhances bass to strike.
Depending on how active the fish are, you will likely need to try a faster or slower retrieve to determine the bass’ level of activity.
2. Let it Soak
Should the bass not take interest in a crankbait, Kenny’s second most productive option is using Texas-rigged creature baits.
“I like to use a Strike King Rage Craw, or some kind of crawfish,” says Kenny. “You want to throw it out there and really let it soak, or in other words, work it slow.”
One of the most popular menu items for bass at any time of the year is crawfish. These will provide a protein-packed meal for hungry bass who will often take advantage of an unsuspecting crawfish wandering through its turf.
3. Break Out the Drop Shot
Popular almost year-round in some form or another is the Drop Shot Rig. These can be used with worms, flukes, lizards, and just about any other kind of soft plastic bait you can imagine.
Bass fishing pro Kevin VanDam is a strong advocate of the Drop Shot—especially during the dog days of summer. In deep, clear water, a Drop Shot is usually a moneymaker for tournament anglers.
“I like to use a shad-colored Roboworm on a Drop Shot when it’s really hot and the bass are down deep,” says Kenny.
There are a number of ways to rig a Drop Shot and it may be wise to try different variations in order to find out what attracts bass where you are fishing.
Top 5 Baits for Hot Summer Bites
Kenny says he has about five baits that he usually relies on during the hot summer months. These baits are listed in no particular order as some may provide a slight advantage in certain situations and weather patterns.
Kenny likes to throw a topwater popper when the days heat up in late summer. Topwater baits typically work best in early morning and late evening, and anglers may not have luck during the mid-day heat. He recommends varying the tempo of your retrieve with topwater lures as the fish may prefer a faster or slower meal.
As the sun climbs higher in the sky, the water temperatures will heat up. Just like humans, bass like to find the coolest place they can when the heat bears down on them. Many anglers will find success with deep water crankbaits in summer. If you can locate where the fish are, you can target them with a deep-diving crankbait for possible bites.
Pitching jigs around docks is also a great way to entice a sluggish largemouth to bite. Docks provide shade all day and bass will often lounge around underneath such cover during the heat of the day. Pitching a jig underneath the dock and slowly bouncing it on the bottom is on of the best go-to baits for pro anglers in summer tournaments.
Just like a jig, a Texas-Rig can turn out to be a moneymaker in summer heat. Many bass will be at or near the bottom of lakes which makes a Texas-Rigged worm a valuable option in the dog days of summer. Texas-Rig’s often resemble a baitfish that appears to be foraging along the bottom—which often looks like an easy meal for big bass. A Texas-Rig and Jig can be dragged over the same structure you bounced that crankbait off of to produce some bites.
Last, but certainly not least, on our list of the best five baits is the Drop Shot. Many pro anglers have won major tournaments by sticking to a Drop Shot lure to catch those big bass that are taking refuge from the sweltering sun in deep water. Drop Shots can be rigged with a variety of different kinds of soft plastics, which makes this bait probably the most valuable of our five lures.
Kenny says that water temperature is key when you’re trying to put fish into the livewell or cooler during these hot summer days.
“Pay attention to water temps, because if you see lower water temps, you’ll find fish are more active when it’s really hot outside,” says Kenny.
On large reservoirs, Kenny says he always identifies when dams will be pulling currents.
“Find out when they are pulling currents at your lake because it will really turn the fishing on,” says Kenny. “It’s really hit or miss sometimes. But when they create that current, that will often dictate when bass start feeding and becoming more active. The fish will set up on drop offs, points and brush piles near where there is water current.”
Electronics is Your Best Tool
Overall, Kenny recommends sticking with deep water when you’re trying to get a bite in the hot summer sun. That means using whatever electronics you have to identify deepwater structure and those deep schools of bass.
“My Lowrance electronics are everything to me when I’m fishing deep,” says Kenny. “Look for deep water structure as that will turn out to really be the ticket. If you can find deep structure, you’ll almost always find bass. Once you find them, then you can start working on them with different lures to see what they’re wanting to bite.”
Use these tips to have better odds during the dog days of summer. Even though some anglers might prefer to stay indoors on those stifling summer days, those who are willing to tough it out and brave the heat can use these tips to their advantage.
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