I often get asked how to catch big bass in the toasty dog days of summer. Anglers seem to think the fish just stop feeding or disappear out in open water but the truth is the bass are around and they are hungry. In fact, the warm water only increases a bass’s metabolism, making them more active than any other time of year. However, the techniques you were using in spring might not be well suited to summer bass habits and it may be time to experiment with baits that resemble all the tiny hatchling fish in the water.
By early summer, there are usually many types of fish hatching and not only fish. Other aquatic creatures such as insects and amphibians are showing up in numbers. On a hot, clear summer day, you will likely have the most success on natural presentations that are often considered finesse. The term “match the hatch” usually refers to trout anglers with fly rods but it holds very true for summertime bass.
What are some of the best presentations for matching the hatch? Sometimes it starts with understanding what the bass are eating first and then finding bait that mimics it. It’s just like trout fishing, spend some time studying the water and looking. Do some research on the species in the area you fish.
I like to use finesse sized jerkbaits in the summer. While often considered a spring and fall lure, small jerkbaits imitate the movements of minnows and fingerling fish very well. It’s okay to fish the bait in a faster, more erratic motion than you would in early spring.
I also like to use weightless plastics likes flukes or a small crawfish bait with a heavy weight that gets the pinchers moving like a small tadpole darting around the bottom. Drop-shot rigs have endless finesse baits that work well and instead of a spinner try a tiny beetle spin with a grub trailer. Believe me when I say even the biggest bass will eat tiny presentations in summertime.
So why do bass eat fry instead of larger fish in the summer? Bass are opportunistic. They will try to be efficient when they feed, instinctively seeking a good balance between calories consumed and calories used. If a school of bass can nestle down in the weeds where the fry hide and slurp them up with ease… that’s where they will be. Bass will still come out and hunt prey but it’s often limited to low light periods and after dark. Timing the bite is much more important in the middle of summer. You want to get out early or late in the day.
Obviously, there are other ways to target bass in summer but if you are ruling out “matching the hatch” with finesse baits, you are extremely limiting the success you could have. If you just have to throw something else try your bigger baits at night!
Otherwise, cover some water in your Hobie and watch your Lowrance screen for clouds of fry. Look around weed beds where the little fish can hide and try dropping a finesse bait down there. With the MirageDrive® I can hold position and drop-shot for individual fish. This technique helped me secure a 4th place finish at the Hobie Bass Open in June. Summertime bass fishing can be awesome and there is nothing like feeling a giant bass slurp in a tiny bait on light line.
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