Summer is the season when bass put on weight. They tend to eat a lot and move a little – or at least as little as possible. That combination can produce fantastic, exciting fishing IF you go out and FIND the fish where they live.
Here are the top five places to look for summertime bass:
1. Find Bass in Water Currents
Whether in a pond, lake, or reservoir current brings warm weather bass two things they need – food and oxygen. Positioning themselves strategically in relation to the current will bring them both with very little need to move on the bass’s part. That’s the way the biggest fish in the water like it when temperatures rise.
Don’t think the kind of current you’re looking for requires big boulders and Class 5 rapids. Even mild currents – the kind that might be generated by an aerator in a farm pond can be enough to attract and hold bass where they can get the extra oxygen the moving water carries and intercept the food it brings with it as well.
2. Overhanging Cover Where Bass Hide
Docks, Trees, Boat Houses, etc. – Overhanging cover provides shade. The lower the cover is to the water, the greater portion of the day the cover creates shade and the more the fish will hang out there.
Water in the shade can be 10 degrees cooler than the water just a few feet of way in the bright sunshine. That means there’s more oxygen in the cool water. The bass like the oxygen and so do the smaller fish the bass like to eat. Small fish also seek the overhead cover as protection from avian predators. The bass like the shadows because they provide hides from which to ambush smaller fish.
So just like the current, overhead cover provides oxygen and collects food sources in the same place, making it a prime location to find bass. In fact, don’t be surprised to catch the same bass on different days from beneath the same piece of cover. You may need a different bait and/or presentation to fool the fish again, but once a big fish finds a piece of cover it likes, it tends to stay there throughout the season if given the opportunity to do so.
3. Main Lake Humps and Points House Bass Too
Structure is a term as old as sport angling itself, but really became “a thing” with the advent of fish finders when we could first see the fish-holding stuff down there as orange blips on the dial. In a big body of water – especially a bowl-type natural lake – the main form of “structure” is the terrain itself. That’s the roll of the lake bottom.
For predatory species like bass, the primary appeal of structure is that it’s where food sources like smaller fish, crawfish, and others gather and like to hide. The structure on main lake humps and points also affords ample ambush points for the larger fish. On the structure, bass can lay in wait for the food to come to them – little movement. Open water, schooling species (and at times bass live this way, too) must expend more energy to herd and chase down food. That’s why you’ll usually find the biggest fish in the body most closely related to the structure.
4. Ledges and Drop Offs in Reservoirs
Because reservoirs are created by damming rivers, they universally have deep river channels and expanses of shallower flood areas. Summertime bass in reservoirs frequently relate to the drop-off edges between them.
At low light times (including the dark of night), start your search on top of the ledge and a short distance from it into the shallows. In full-daylight, probe the depth of the ledge, but still tight to the wall. The more sheer the ledge, the more likely it is to hold fish. Straight up and down, or even undercut, is the best.
Again, the biggest fish will tend to hold closest to the sheer ledge – whether above it or below it.
5. Bass Like Dense and Floating Vegetation in Natural Lakes
A great place to look for bass any time is beneath live, floating vegetation. Look for hyacinth, hydrilla, and lily pads.
Beneath and among this dense vegetation, bass find benefits similar to sheltering below low, overhanging cover like limbs and boat docks – only better! Now there’s added cover extending down into the water in which the fish can wait in ambush.
If you can find places where a raft of hyacinth has drifted into a bed of hydrilla or lily pads, you’ve likely found a gold mine. There will be bass there, and the denser the matt, the bigger the fish will likely be. Problem is – how do you catch them?
Dig out the weedless muck baits like frogs and rats. Drag them over the top – and hang on! This will probably be some of the most exciting fishing you’ll do in your lifetime.
Tip: Fish frogs on top of the aquatic weeds and fish small craws below the surface vegetation. Use a 3 1/2" size craw like the popular Bass Pro Shops Tournament Series Incredible Craw. Most of the creatures living around the matted vegetation like sunfish are small so matching the hatch is important.
BONUS Night Fishing:
Night Fishing – Sometimes the key to finding and catching summertime bass is not a where question, but a when question. Go after dark! Especially on hard-fished waters “the big feed” can become a primarily nocturnal event.
Wait until it’s really dark – like 10 or 11 pm or after. Drift or use the trolling motor to silently access those same shallow areas on top of the main lake humps and points or the shallows at the top of the ledges. Go to work with top waters. Be prepared for big fish and excitement as you hear them crashing your baits to tell you when to set the hook.