Hot Water Bass Tactics

Trigger more summertime bass


Summertime bass fishing can be incredible. Warm water increases fish metabolism and causes them to feed often. But, when waters get hot—outside the bass’ optimal temperature range—fishing can get tricky at times. That’s especially true when weather changes throw the fish off the bite. We’ll talk about some tricks for dealing with tough conditions to best take advantage of what summer has to offer the bass angler.


Hot bite


When the bite is on and fishing is hot in the heat of summer, it often seems like anything will catch bass. Sometimes this is true. During these times, anglers should stick to aggressive tactics—a fast, power-fishing approach—in order to take full advantage of the optimal conditions Mother Nature has sent your way. I’m not saying that we don’t employ fast fishing during poor conditions, but fishing fast is almost always the best way to go when the bite is hot. Getting a lure in front of as many fish as possible in the time that you have will usually put more and bigger fish in the boat, during good conditions in summer.


Unless it becomes obvious that concentrations of fish are bunched up tight in certain areas, covering water is best. Run from spot to spot as fast as possible, then stay on the trolling motor to zip up and down the structures quickly. Choose fast-moving lures like tighter-wiggling shallow-to-mid-depth crankbaits and minnow baits that can be fished fast, lipless cranks, long-arm multi-blade spinnerbaits with willow and hatchet blades, the heavier sizes of vibrating blade baits, and heavy, compact jigging spoons with a high rate of fall. Buzz baits, buzz frogs, torpedoes, and other prop-style topwater lures can also be fished quickly to cover water in a hurry when summer bass are active. In this instance, it’s all about the number of casts that you can make.


Slow bite


Things aren’t always as simple when the bite gets tough. Sometimes, the same high-speed, power-fishing approach works well for neutral and even inactive summertime bass—such as when a cold front rolls through or a water experiences exceptionally high fishing and boating pressure while temperatures climb extremely high. After all, speed can be a powerful trigger to force fish to strike.


A high-speed approach should always be tried first, since this is so often the most-effective fishing method. As a full-time charter guide and fishing pro for most of my adult life, I’ve learned that you have to be prepared to zig when everyone else zags. Most of my tournament victories and high finishes have been taken with power-fishing tactics. While this strategy usually prevails on waters away from home, fine tuning is easier on a home lake. One approach may equal another. When the speed game fails, it’s time to dig into our bag of tricks. In the hottest portions of summer, we sometimes need a big bag of tricks in order to get a big bag of bass.


Sometimes, slowing down the presentation becomes the hot ticket. Slow-rolling spinnerbaits is a hot summer pattern. When you need to fish in deeper water, willows and hatchets are still the blades of choice. For neutral and even negative summer bass in the shallows, slowly crawling Colorado or Indiana bladed spinners through cover produces some monsters in the heat. Likewise, slow cranking produces some big bass when they’re off.


Going vertical with jigs and Texas-rigged soft plastics can also be deadly here, even in large sizes. It allows for the slowest presentation possible, even dead sticking if need be. Carolina rigs also shine. The separation of the weight and soft bait allows for a very natural and subtle look. The heavy weight also gets down and holds the bottom well. Downsizing to small spinnerbaits, jigs, and crankbaits works, too, and wacky rigging or drop-shot fishing finesse plastics is another from the bag of tough bite summer tricks.


Get out there


I remember, as a kid, the anticipation of summer. As spring continued on, I felt more and more like I couldn’t spend even one more minute in a classroom. The visions of all of those gloriously long summer days… of swimming, skiing and snorkeling, hunting, hiking, boating and camping and—most of all—fishing… enveloped my mind and consumed my every thought. Summer is upon us, my friends! Let the childlike excitement of the season take you onto the water and into the wilderness. What are you waiting for?