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When people say it becomes more difficult to catch larger fish in the summer, does this apply to live bait fishing as well?


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All of the pros where I live seem to agree that the dog days of summer are tough going for bagging trophy smallmouth. Very few if any of them fish live bait, however.
 

Would this be a way for me to overcome this obstacle (while still simultaneously using lures) or will it still be tough? Kind of sucks thinking that fishing has already peaked for the season, and that the short burst of excitement in the spring is as good as it gets. A while back I posted a thread comparing spring and summer productivity, I’ll have to revisit it but I thought I remembered it being pretty unanimous that summer was the best time for smallmouth fishing. So is it just the 18”+ pigs that become elusive? 

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People who say that don't adjust with the fish. Big fish still eat during the summer months, but you can't fish spring, spawning areas and expect to catch summertime fish. 

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When spawning is over you look for the big boys moving from deep to shallow areas following points that take them to where the bait hides (cover and weeds usually shallow). We catch nice smallies thru the summer into fall feeding binges. When the fishing gets tougher for summer, you go after the fish and find them. That is where lures are great for casting and moving till you find the fish and develop a new pattern. Good Fishing....

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For decades I would go in circles during midday. Bingo a HUGE lone smallie would be slowly cruising around the weed beds edges. She was not concerned about the sun or hot 24" depth.  I tossed my floater wit   NO hooks on it.  She bashed it at high speed. came back and raced up to it. looked at my boat.  Farted  And continued her patrol for a careless meal. I do not cast to a patrolling lone fish.  They are not able to keep up with the faster swimming schools of fish.  I let them die of old age.

 

I can think like that being 83 1/2 years old.

 

Live minnows or any other fish as bait WILL always out fish a lure.  THe fish REALLY do know the difference between lures & their Lateral line NOT SENSING a heart beat or not darting away as they approach slowly in shallow water. If starving or in poor health ?  They may bite

 

.Most people do not know how to use live bait in August.

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There is no rhyme or reason to where they are. I threw that out the window years ago. You would think a rock wing dam or rip rap moving water scenario would be the hot spot. Maybe not. 
 

I’m taking my chance in a deeper water,  lower flow stretch this Sunday. I’ll Topwater fish some on a few points first. Crankbait fishing that deeper water is my plan. Naturals like gizzard Shad, Tennessee Shad, and bluegills. I’ve leaned toward these more and more often over the last handful of years. 

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7 hours ago, Bluebasser86 said:

People who say that don't adjust with the fish. Big fish still eat during the summer months, but you can't fish spring, spawning areas and expect to catch summertime fish. 

Exactly.  A lot of us (me included) want targets to throw at and have a tendency to beat the bank.  That will work in the summer early or late in the day when the fish are up feeding but for the majority of the day in summer they move to deep structure and cover.  I am sometimes slow to adapt.  Fishing a lake like St Clair that forces you off shore if you want to catch the bigguns has helped me.  

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2 hours ago, cyclops2 said:

Live minnows or any other fish as bait WILL always out fish a lure.

 

I wouldn't say that's true.  The water temperature here is about 80 degrees and minnows come from a bait tank thats about 50 degrees.  Dunking them from 50 to 80 is sure death.  Not many fish like dead minnows other than catfish.  A nightcrawler or leech would be a much better selection if you were choosing live bait in these parts.

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^^^^^^^^ I agree 100% ^^^^^^^^^
 

Lures will give you the reaction strike when fish are not in a feeding mode. Lures will give you the hits when they are in a feeding mode. 

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Live bait will out fish lures for the beginner, but the more experience you get, the better lures will perform.

 

In my case, I have had many of my best days fishing in the summer, fishing lures. I caught a ton of fish last year in a large pond where the water was 83-84 degrees, and that was really high for water in this area let alone a body of water that size.

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Agree on killing bait with temperature shock.  But my baitfish is fresh caught perch.  I use either a clear  float or weight with the perch 6 to 8' Higher than the weight. If a 6 to 8" perch is not swallowed ?  I move to another spot If still no action.  I troll 100' & the perch.  Works

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3 minutes ago, cyclops2 said:

But my baitfish is fresh caught perch.

 

In this case when the bait is fresh from the environment then it is already acclimated.  I bet it often works pretty well too.

 

Perch aren't legal bait here.

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7 minutes ago, cyclops2 said:

Agree on killing bait with temperature shock.  But my baitfish is fresh caught perch.  I use either a clear  float or weight with the perch 6 to 8' Higher than the weight. If a 6 to 8" perch is not swallowed ?  I move to another spot If still no action.  I troll 100' & the perch.  Works

If I had a place around where I could regularly catch 8" perch I'd probably just keep the perch. LOL

 

Lots of bass are caught on shiners or crawdads. I often used to tip my jigs with a live leech and I've caught an awful lot of bass and walleyes on night crawlers. I can generally do as well or better on artificials and live bait is such a giant pain.

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5 hours ago, cyclops2 said:

For decades I would go in circles during midday. Bingo a HUGE lone smallie would be slowly cruising around the weed beds edges. She was not concerned about the sun or hot 24" depth.  I tossed my floater wit   NO hooks on it.  She bashed it at high speed. came back and raced up to it. looked at my boat.  Farted  And continued her patrol for a careless meal. I do not cast to a patrolling lone fish.  They are not able to keep up with the faster swimming schools of fish.  I let them die of old age.

 

I can think like that being 83 1/2 years old.

 

Live minnows or any other fish as bait WILL always out fish a lure.  THe fish REALLY do know the difference between lures & their Lateral line NOT SENSING a heart beat or not darting away as they approach slowly in shallow water. If starving or in poor health ?  They may bite

 

.Most people do not know how to use live bait in August.

What is there to know about using live bait in August?

3 hours ago, Boomstick said:

Live bait will out fish lures for the beginner, but the more experience you get, the better lures will perform.

 

In my case, I have had many of my best days fishing in the summer, fishing lures. I caught a ton of fish last year in a large pond where the water was 83-84 degrees, and that was really high for water in this area let alone a body of water that size.

Yeah when the water is warm like this I typically change half the water in my Engle bait cooler with the water from the river, allows them to acclimate and saves the temperature shock.

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My river fishing today in not what it was 40 + years ago. The river is struggling today. At that time numbers of Smallies were high but size wise they were a lot of dinks and runts. 
 

At that time I was making or had made the transition to artificial lures for bass. I’ve had countless outings during those years of putting on a drift and really throwing nothing more than Rebel Wee Craws in a few different patterns and having days of catching 30-50 Smallies. Was not every outing but numerous. 
 

I don’t believe drowning a worm or swimming a minnow would have touched that. 
 

If days like that don’t hook you on artificials for life nothing will. 
 

Don’t know why I don’t throw that anymore, or very much. 

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Now that we have the longest day light in play I do switch to 40 pound braid & a 4" Rapala In perch pattern or silver & blue.  Both will catch bass and + 14 "  jumbo perch.  Floater  Remove the belly hook & put a # 6 or # 8 black treble hook on the tail. It works when trolled at about 129' . The attack is at full speed carrying part of the fish slightly above the surface. 

 

  Boring ?  Yes. but it works in all depths to about 60 ' .

 

  I have a grayish Plankton at sunrise. Cannot see bottom in 2' of water. All the fishes are feeding actively then. My 4" Rapala has a 6 " perch or bass or largemouth hooked.  Jumbo Panfish are hooked also.  But Who wants to go  out AND BE CASTING at 3: 30 or 4: 30 ?

I am awake at those hours.  But not ready. 40 years ago I did that & cam in by 2 hours after sunrise. The bite went off then.  The bite was almost everywhere.

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 Retraction of  bad catching on lures. I changed the weight of the split shot . Heavier & retrieved faster from longer distances.  Jumbo perch are barely nipping.

 

 Bought NEW Rapala lures.  The SHARPER NEW hooks are catching many more nippers over the weeds.  The dull hooks felt just like weed hits.  Smallies & jperch. ALL the fish are being hooked just barely on the lips. Lighter drag & rod tip high up is bringing them to the boat. The weeds are requiring me to motor to them to prevent fish pulling off of the hooks.

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In August I carry 2 rods. 1 is just to catch perch for bait alive. The other is 50# Stealth Braided. With a float 5' above the perch. I have seen the float dive over 5 times. Barbless hook & the red plastic hook releaser is a 5 second release of the bass. 

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