Finding Bass in the Heat of Summer


Eighty-two may not seem like a cooling trend, but when the mercury has been flirting with triple-digits for the better part of a month, it can seem like Mother Nature turned on the air conditioner.   Conditions for fishing can often be a bear for anglers hoping to score during the dog days of summer.   This week, we’ve enjoyed a bit of a reprieve, but before the leaves turn you can count on temps being in that range again.

When the atmosphere is scorching the water seems like the best place to take a cool break, but water temperatures on the state’s lakes in recent months have been equally warm.   The waters of some of the state’s lakes and rivers would seem like bath water.   While that may be comfortable to us warm blooded creatures–it plays havoc with the life systems of fish when their body temperatures equal that of their environment.  Therefore, if you’re fishing you’re going to have to find the "comfort zone."

Locating fish in summertime conditions can be tricky business. If you’re fishing in an impoundment, it’s critical to find the "thermocline."  The thermocline is that spot within the water Colum where the water temperature actually changes.    We’ve all experienced the thermocline while swimming in a pond.  The water at your feet is noticeably cooler than the water at your shoulders.    That water has more oxygen.   The depth of the thermocline can vary in every body of water.  Fish will find it–and cling to it.  Suspended fish are tough to catch. 

DNR Fisheries Biologist Jim Walker says however, during the night hours–things change.

"You want to beat that summertime afternoon heat when you can avoid it," Walker said. "Fishing six to ten in the morning or at five or six o’clock in the evening until dark or after dark can be real good."

The merciful disappearance of the sun brings fish back to life at times.

"Those bass are going to be a lot more active around the surface.  They’re not going to worry as much about predation as they would during the day," said Walker.

When you are on one of the state’s impoundments consider your spots carefully.   Think about where you’d want to be when the sun is beating down—chances are most fish, particularly bass, will be there too.

"Concentrate on shady banks," said Walker. "Steep banks and quick drop-offs are excellent places to find bass."

Make mental notes of structure or cover in the water which can provide shade.   Bass are famous for hanging to cover.   Submerged logs provide a dark spot to rest in the shade and await the ambush of a quick passing meal.  

Jigs, plastic worms, and "creature" baits are effective when finessed into isolated pockets of deep, shaded cover.   Fish aren’t as likely to "crash" your bait under those conditions, so be on alert for the subtle bite.

"The jigs and the worms, you’ve got to really fish them slow because that aggressive bite is gone," he said. "A lot of people switch to live bait as well, just because if you don’t have that fine touch, it’s difficult to catch them.  They stop feeding so they’re going to be very selective."



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