The dog days of summer are upon us. With 100-degree days, most bass anglers are doing their thing at night. There will still, of course, be those few hard core big bass specialists who do not like night fishing. You can, however, be successful either way.
Trophy bass will have specific routes they travel this time of year. You could consider areas where big bass spend most of their time as their home location. Some fish will move 200 to 300 yards to feed. Others will travel shorter distances. All of them will follow breaklines or channels from home areas to feeding stations.
Most big bass are loners, but there are times during feeding periods when their routes overlap. They usually travel to feeding stations at or near points, ridges, or humps. They seem to prefer water that ranges from 10 to 20 feet.
How long these fish feed will depend on weather conditions. On overcast days, the bite will generally last longer. Check the same areas at different times of the day. Different bass will use the same points and ridges at different times of the day.
It's possible to make your largest catches during the hottest part of the day. You can pattern trophy bass just as you would trophy deer. Your key so success will be locating home areas and routes used for moving to feeding areas.
Some big bass will suspend in around 20 feet of water over mid-lake areas that may be 40 or more feet in depth. These fish will follow breaklines up to humps, ridges, and points to feed, returning to deep water by the same route. Other fish set up home areas in and around heavy brush. They, too, will follow breaklines to feeding areas. Most will feed at about 10 to 20 feet, then move out to deeper water to rest.
In early summer, look for deep areas that have humps, ridges, points, creek beds, old road beds, flooded timber, or a grassline at 10 to 20 foot depths. Look for the same type of structure at 20 to 30 foot depths in later summer.
Summer giants can be caught on a variety of lures, but the most effective are jig and craw, Texas or Carolina rigged worms 10 to 14 inches in length, and deep-diving crankbaits. Colors will vary from one lake to another and due to weather conditions. One thing is certain during summer and that is color can make a big difference. If you know the area you are fishing is holding fish, but the bite is slow, experiment with different colors. During a slow bite last summer, one of my clients started fishing a different color worm on his Carolina rig and caught five bass over 21 inches. It was Merthiolate, yes, a bright fluorescent red was the color and it stayed hot for three weeks on lake Fork last summer.
One of my favorite techniques for catching bass in the summer is shaking and swimming a ½ ounce Penetrator jig and Hawg Craw. The shake and swim motion is created counting the jig to the desired depth. Start the retrieve with a 12 o'clock rod position and continuing shaking your jig with a little slack line and quarter-turns of the reel handle. Use the same procedure as if you were walking a topwater Spook, but with your rod in the 12 o'clock position. This is one of the deadliest techniques for catching bass that are suspended over deep water or deep grass. It takes some practice, but I can assure you once you have mastered the technique, it adds greatly to your summer arsenal, and it will pay off with trophy bass.
My son, Roger won the McDonald's Big Bass with a 12.17 using this technique. He will probably not be pleased to read that I am leaking our best summer secrets.
During the hot days of summer, make sure you carry plenty of water and sunscreen. Bass need extra care, too, during extreme heat. Return them to the lake as quickly as possible. If you must hold them in your livewell during a tournament, keep your aerator running constantly, add ice, and use a fungicide.