Summer Fishing for Bass
Published on Bassmaster.com July 8, 2010
For the rest of the summer, I plan to do a series of articles dedicated to summer bass fishing. In this first article, I want to summarize what I do for summer bass fishing. In Texas, the bulk of the spawn ends during the month of May, and they get on their summer patterns around the beginning of June. I believe June is the best summer month for both day and night fishing. July is second best, while August and September are usually good for only short bursts of activity. I'll get more into the differences in summer months in future articles.
I've been guiding on Lake Fork for 20-plus years, and I've found quite a few patterns that work with consistency. When I first started guiding, I couldn't decide when to fish in the summer because there are so many summer patterns that will catch fish. However, in recent years, I've made it my niche to fish at night. In fact, I believe I'm the only full-time guide on Lake Fork that only fishes nights in the summer. Several other guides fish at night, but I believe they all fish in the day as well. Since that is my expertise, the rest of this article will focus on night fishing in the summer.
After dark, I have a very different mind set for catching fish. During the day, I'm forced to go to them; and when they quit biting, I have to find them again. However, at night, I can anchor on a spot where bass travel, and I can catch them as they come through the zone.
You may have noticed that if you don't change the sensitivity on your graph, once it gets dark you will usually find a huge majority of the pixels appearing as some sort of baitfish activity. This is because lakes come alive at night in the summer. Often you can shine your spotlight in the water and find baitfish as far as you can see. I believe the same baitfish that cling together during the day spread out all over the lake at night. Since these baitfish clutter up the graph so much, it makes it much more difficult to tell exactly what's going on under the surface. Therefore, I don't find my graph very useful for targeting individual fish. However, electronics are extremely useful for finding where you can expect them to be.
Back in the old days, I would use my electronics and some marker buoys and drop the buoys where the grass ended. I would drop the buoys 20 to 30 feet apart and I could see how the grassline would change. If the buoys went in a line, I would keep dropping them until I saw some kind of contour change. Once I found a significant contour change in the grassline, I would retrieve the other buoys and leave the three buoys that showed the contour change. I would then anchor the boat so that I could work the entire contour change and fish parallel with the grassline as much as possible.
I still fish the same type of contours at night, but now I can take advantage of current technology and save a lot of steps and time. In fact, I don't even have to go over the area to determine the contour change. I can look on one of my graphs and see a map of the lake and the structure under the boat. From that map, I can quickly find the general area, even if I've never been there. Once I get to the contour change on the map, I then look at my side imaging and find the grass. From the side imaging, I can see where the grass takes a turn and I quickly anchor the boat and start fishing. And now it gets even easier; instead of dropping an anchor, I can set my I-Pilot on my trolling motor to keep us right on the spot. This whole process takes about 3 minutes.
Once I'm anchored, I usually fish Texas rigged worms. Many other baits will work, but I catch more on Texas rigged worms at night than everything else combined.
Check back soon for Summer Fishing, Part 2.