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Summer Trophy Bass Hunting

Most fishermen believe the best time for hunting a trophy bass is spring or fall. You can make a great case for catching big bass those times of the year but don’t discount summer. Understanding the fish and its lifestyle is critical to the catch. A few things to consider:

  • Largemouth bass are object oriented. Smallmouth relate to deep water must the same as largemouth do to objects. They each relate to similar spots for food sources.
  • Four necessities for fish of all sizes include 1. Oxygen 2. Food 3. Cover 4.Deep water close by.
  • Natural Factors are keys to the catch. Water temperature, moon phase, barometric pressure, water color, wind direction and velocity.
  • Master a variety of baits and presentations.
  • Keep a journal.
  • R and R…….. Random action and Retrieve speed.

The spotlight on summer makes sense because with warmer water temperatures the bass (all species) are eating machines. While anglers will lament the lack of big bass catches during the summer months, they can be easier to catch June through August. Follow the logic. June in many locations is post spawn. They’ve finished a time period when they do NOT eat. After the spawn they move offshore but are ready to feed big time. In warm water they digest faster, so they eat more often. Surface water temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees are optimal.

In many instances’ bass seek out crawfish because of the return on investment. Lures matching the craws are popular and effective. Try to match the color, size and more important the natural movement of the crawfish. Fact: they walk forward and flee backwards. In an attempt to escape the swim backwards in two or three short bursts. A jig with a soft plastic crawfish trailer mimics this better than any other lure. My choice is a 3/8ths ounce Strike King jig in color #101 Bama craw trailed by the Ragetail craw in the matching color best consistently matches most crawfish patterns.

Watch the Moon. If you can choose your adventure time focus on the major moon phases. A check of many fishing records, salt and freshwater the world records occur in close proximity to the major moon phases. Increased natural hatches of minnows, forage fish, frogs, and insects occur simultaneously with the full moon. Because of this natural phenomenon there is an increase in feeding frequency by the predatory opportunistic bass family (and other gamefish).

Be knowledgeable and capable of fishing all three water columns. Bass will feed on the surface, at mid-levels and along the bottom. The easier you make it for the fish to track down the bait the more like it is to get bit. Minimize the chase, make the bait available with a minimal amount of energy expended by the fish. They get bigger faster. This doesn’t mean you have to have ten tones of tackle. Choose carefully and learn to use each bait well.

Many giant fish including bass come from rivers and steams or river system lakes. Don’t discount rivers especially for smallmouth bass. Moving water is cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, both good things for the fish and fisherman. Usually more highly oxygenated (see bullet point two) and alive with diverse food sources moving waters are fertile and grow big bass.

Summer Trophy Bass Hunting
Qualities that consistently catch BIGGER bass are these: easily swallowed shapes, natural colors, natural swimming motions, silent AND RANDOM ACTION. While there are days and lures that don’t match up with these criteria, they are the exception rather than the rule. Random action is something bass never get conditioned to avoid. Noisy lures, bright colors and mechanical action can teach bass to avoid these lure characteristics. RETRIEVE speed, almost always there is a more effective speed with which to retrieve your baits. Often slower is better but the speed can be dictated by the aggressiveness of the bite (See bullet point three) which can be a direct result of moon phase, water temperature and other conditions.

Use approaches and presentations that are less intrusive. Silent and stealthy techniques are your friend. Of course, again there a exceptions to the rule but day in day out try to use quiet cast, mimic the motion and movement of the existing food sources and try to develop a pattern that is repeatable. Be aware the weather and water condition changes can alter even the most solid pattern. Be ready to make adjustments. Again, the more difficult the bite, slow the retrieve and consider downsizing the lure choices.

Small details make a BIG difference. Keep hooks sharp, tie good knots, use strong line, practice casting accuracy and develop a solid hook set.

Many of these tips plus many more will be in my most recent book 60 SEASONS, a Fishing Guide set to be released in October.