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Blistering hot days, aka dog days of summer can make life difficult for the fishermen. Warm weather and water conditions can create a Rubik’s cube with seemingly no remedies. Once your fishing waters reaches surface temperatures exceeding 80 degrees Fahrenheit there is an absence of dissolved oxygen which then makes breathing difficult for all game fish. Major fish kills are attributed to this summer phenomenon. To adjust to these conditions and catch a few fish here is a game plan to battle bass and not the heat.

Summer Solutions | Kayak Fishing
First for the release minded fisherman if your goal is to release your catch keep in mind that an extended fight with the fish can create physical problem. A buildup of lactic acid as the fish fights for freedom has the potential for the fish expiring even if the fish swims off. Delayed mortality occurs when the fish gets a full body “Charlie horse” much like a human might experience. Set the hook, play the fish in quickly and minimize the time to unhook and send the bass back home. The resource especially trophy fish are too precious to be caught only once. Big fish are also besides being the most efficient predators are the best of breeding stock. Ethical handling is vital.

Summer Solutions | Kayak Fishing
Extreme temperatures (high and low) will make the fish more inactive. This may require a “house call”, close range presentations ideal for the kayak angler. Using pitching or flipping techniques gives you access to bass buried up in heavy cover, boat docks, matted weed beds, log jams and more. Soft plastics, jigs and any bait that penetrate cover are a good choice. Target openings and edges around the cover with pinpoint casts. Repeated casts and variable speed on retrieves might be necessary to convince bass to bite. Another possibility is a depth change. All fish will ultimately follow the food. If the shad, the primary food source for bass and other fish move off shore to deeper water you may have to seek out a creek channel, ledges and drop offs. This is where electronics could come in handy. I “read” the water by sight normally. A slopping bank, long point, inflowing creek or a visual clue as to bottom contour or change all are valuable. “Feeling” the bottom with a jig or Texas rigged bait also helps find depth changes.

Knowing the forage preference is important. Crawfish if present are at the top of the largemouth lunch box list. All species of bass crave the craws. Indigenous bait fish in the form of shad, shiners, bluegill and minnows also help to determine bait selection. A Texas rigged plastic worm or even a crawfish imitator are tough to beat in summer. My standard rig would be a ½ ounce lead slip sinker and a 4/0 Daiichi copperhead hook. When the fish are the most finicky rigging you plastics on a ¼ ounce shakey head or standard leadhead will almost always produce a few bites. Squarebill crankbaits around cover are another possibility and their cousins the deeper oval bill baits are effective for the fish that have abandon the shallows. If a trophy is your goal topwater buzzers, dog walking baits and cup faced poppers are more likely to draw the big bite but not a numbers choice. Having a topwater lure rigged and ready pays dividends when bass are pushing and chasing the giant schools of shad this time of year. Floating worms (see previous post FOLLOW THE LEADER on this web site) and frog fishing are exciting and part of the summer fun.

Summer Solutions | Kayak Fishing
Other potential on the water adventures include after-hours fishing or the early morning bite. Bass will roam the shallows during low light hours. If panfish are your preference generally the crappie and bluegill are schooled up and around deeper cover and contours but once located can be non-stop action.

Hats and hydration are highly recommended. As responsible kayakers life jackets 100 percent of the time and consider carrying an audible signaling device (whistle) as you might likely be sharing the waters with bigger boats and other water craft. Another flip of the calendar and we’ll be transition fishin’ into fall but for now there are a few summer solutions.