The “Other” Boys of Summer
Submitted by Full Limit Outdoor Media
Summertime bass fishing means offshore fishing across much of the country. It often calls for a deck full of cranking rods and a box full of XD crankbaits. But what about the places where heavy jigs and deep cranks don’t rule the hot months? Let’s look at the what, when, where and how of the “other” ways to catch them when the mercury rises.
Vegetation – Pads, Hydrilla, milfoil, reeds, hyacinths, tulles, etc. These aquatic plants often grow in shallow water and are an excellent source of protection, bait, shade and oxygen. Take Florida for instance where you can punch a Slither Rig tipped with a Rage Bug, Menace or Rodent all year around the aforementioned cover and get bit. Not just bit, but bit big! Another very popular option is a KVD Sexy Frog, Caffeine Shad, or Tour Grade Swingin’ Swim Jig over, around and through the slop. This is heavy line tactics because you often get a side of salad with your meat.
Rivers - River systems often have persistent current and that often means cooler water temps and higher oxygen content. River bass can certainly relate to drop offs such as the river channel itself or creek mouths, but they’re just as at home around a laydown, willow tree or grass. River bass are notorious for eating blade baits such as Hack Attack Spinner bait or a Swingin’ Sugar Buzz. They can also generally be fooled by KVD Squarebills and pitching soft plastics. Think Creature baits (Rage Hawg, Game Hawg, Rodent) or worm (Cut’r Worm).
High Water/Floods – These conditions can drastically change the way a body of water fishes. Although not as typical in the summer as in the spring, it still happens and when it does, the bass run to the shallows. Take for example Greg Hackney’s recent win at the BassFest event on Lake Texoma. Texoma is a relatively clear fishery that should be dominated by offshore patterns in the month of June, yet due to the impending flood conditions, Hackney picked up his signature flipping jig, tipped it with a Rodent and won himself a cool $100K. He took advantage of a population of bass that were feeding on sunfish around the newly flooded cover.
Highland Reservoirs – Not all lakes have the offshore structure to make them “ledge” lakes. The country is scattered with highland reservoirs that often boast clear water and docks. Lots and lots of docks. Their resident fish population are often hanging out around those docks as much or more than the dock owners. The docks provide shade and shelter in the clear water. The docks often are juiced up with brush piles and various attractors that support their own min-ecosystems. This is where a Fat Baby Finesse Worm on a Tour Grade Shakey Head can be king. Drop-shotting a Dream Shot isn’t a bad option either. These types of lakes, and the fish within them are also usually suckers for a topwater such as Sexy Dawg or KVD Splash.
Night Time – This is the last “offshore alternative” that we’re going to look at today and it can apply to any lake from coast to coast. Clear, deep, stained, shallow and everything in between can be fished successfully after dark. And, for the record, ledge fishing can be fantastic once the sun sets as the bait and therefore the bass often get up on top of the ledges and get active as the darkness allows the surface layers of the water to cool. However, historically, clearer lakes make better night fishing venues as obviously it’s easier for the bass to locate a bait in the dark in clearer water. This is where you pick up a Tour Grade Night Spinnerbait and hold on tight as the strikes are bone jarring! A 10" Rage Tail Thumper Worm in black paired with a Tour Grade Tungsten weight can also be lights out (pun totally intended).
The truth is, there is more than one way to skin a cat or catch a bass on most any body of water. As the majority of the bass may be in one pattern, there is most certainly a population of some size that goes against the grain. So if chunking and winding a 10XD isn’t your thing, try one of the baits and methods mentioned here. Another bonus is that jet skis and pleasure boats don’t often frequent the shoreline. That is enough of a reason for even the most seasoned offshore angler to look for an alternative in the summer!