Late-summer Bass Fishing with Helena and Silas

It’s late summer, and most of the blistering hot, steamy weather is behind us. It can be cool and windy, and there still are good days to go bass fishing.

I’m fishing a lake in Wisconsin’s Polk County and thinking the weather on this trip might slow the bass bite down a bit, but that we should still catch some. The wind is fairly brisk early, making it seen cooler as we start. These conditions can also pose some problems when trying to control the boat.

David Rakovszky and his children are fishing with me. His 11-year-old son Silas is with us and has fished with us before. He caught his first bass a couple years earlier. David’s daughter Helena has joined us too. She has never caught a bass before, until today. Helena says she wants to fish with a spinning rod. She has never used one before so I hand her a spinning rod and David coaches her on how to cast. She takes a few practice casts. The first couple tries are a bit rough, but she soon has casting down.

We move our boat behind a point. I then explain to her what to look for when a fish hits and to make sure she understands how to set the hook.

I then feel a tap on my line and pull back to set the hook. The fish is on solidly.

I start calling for Helena and I hand her my spinning rod. The rod tip dances as she brings the fish in. It’s a largemouth bass, but she wants to catch her own fish.

A few minutes later she does.

Her line began to move in the water and she pulled back to set the hook. She now understands the importance of setting the hook. The fish races off and her spinning rod is then bent in half. Somewhere in front of the boat a fish splashes on the top of the water. She is furiously cranking on the spinning reel, and a few moments later a fish is thrashing alongside the boat.

I reach over and pull the fish in—it’s the first bass she’s caught all by herself. It is indeed a big moment for her, and cheers and hollering from our boat is loud as high fives are exchanged.

Silas got his first bass of the day a few minutes later. Helena and Silas together ended up catching a half a dozen fish by the time their father got his first fish of the day.

Late summer is a good time to be bass fishing. The weather is not as volatile or as hot in June and July and the evenings can give you a chill, reminding us that fall is not that far away.

Diminishing high and low temperatures mean the fish will be start to fatten up a little more for fall, so they can be aggressive. But these cooler temperatures can also at times make them sluggish, and this is when plastic baits are ideal.

We were using sinking plastic worms fished wacky-style. Although color probably doesn’t matter, my favorite color is watermelon candy. I’ve noticed on this day the fish have been hitting harder for us. There were no tentative strikes, so I think they were starting to feed with a purpose. By lunchtime, we had caught and released over 20 fish.

Later, the boat drifts in the wind as we eat lunch. The conditions continuously blast us around. We keep moving, trying to get out of these winds, but nothing seems to work. We just need to work around the gusts and use it to our advantage when we can. The sun has been beating down on us and the temperatures have warmed.

A few minutes after lunch, we hear Helena yell that she has a fish. I see her spinning rod bouncing as the fish takes off. Then we hear Silas yell that he too has a fish. David and I watch as both Helena and Silas battle, and soon they pull both into the boat. Brother and sister have the first double of the day.

It’s now time for Helena and Silas to learn how to take their fish off of their hooks. I talk them through the procedure and they both get the hooks out and their fish back into the water. Within the next hour, they both catch several more and each time they are able to get their fish off on their own—another major step in becoming a fish-catcher.

Later, they both got another double. Both their catches were nice and the fish each put up a strong fight.

When I got into the late afternoon, I proposed we think about wrapping it up for the day. We had caught and released 43 fish. Both Helena and Silas then said they wanted to catch two more. In the next few minutes, they each caught a fish and felt very satisfied with stopping at number 45.

Late summer still has a lot of bass fishing to offer, as Helena and Silas can attest. The bass feed more in these cooler temperatures. This part of the season can give both anglers and fish some of the most pleasant weather.