STORIES OUT THERE FISHING By: Keith 'Catfish' Sutton, WorldFishingNetwork.com Largemouth Bass: 12 Tips for Hot-Weather Hits We've got you covered if you want to get a boatload of bass in your bucket this summer The hot days of summer are almost upon us. When the heat rises, use these tips to increase your odds for waylaying a heavyweight largemouth like this. (Keith Sutton photo) Want to put loads of big largemouth bass in your boat this summer? These tips could help. 1. Weed ‘em Out. Green aquatic vegetation attracts baitfish, frogs, crayfish and other bass forage to shallow waters with the offer of protection, shade and abundant oxygen. Bass follow. Summer bass anglers should, too. Buzzbaits are great for catching bass in this greenery. They can be fished over weed beds with fewer irritating snags than a topwater lure with two or more treble hooks. Cast beyond the weeds, then start the lure back with a quick retrieve that brings it to the top to skitter over the vegetation. 2. Skip It. Savvy anglers move in close and fish under man-made structures where summer largemouths often hide. A short, light spinning or spincasting outfit is handy for this kind of fishing because it allows anglers to skip, flip and ricochet a small jig or plastic worm into the tightest areas. Flip under piers, docks and boathouses, preparing for a strike as the lure falls. No hits? A slow retrieve close to the bottom frequently produces. 3. Up a Creek. Fishing backs of tributary creeks is a good summer pattern. Look for those with slow, steady current and plentiful woody cover. Motor upstream as far as possible, then fish your way out. Cast plastic worms, lizards or grubs, working them around timber and stick-ups in the creek channel and along shallow banks. Fish all cover thoroughly. 4. Ledges and Breaks. Watch you sonar unit for shallow ledges and channel breaks. These aren’t deep drop-offs falling away for 30 feet or more along major river channels, but shallow ditches, cuts, ledges and gullies, often near bankside bluffs or close to coves and bays. Look for things such as a single ledge five to 10 feet down along a steep timbered bluff—the only holding point along the bluff before it falls away into much deeper water. Small drops like this also are common in waters such as big rivers that are dredged deeper to facilitate barge traffic. Jigs (1/4- to 1/2-ounce) are ideal for fishing these structures. Work them down drop-offs, hopping them stair-step fashion. Around river ledges, allow the lure to drift naturally and bounce along the ledge. 5. Channel Your Efforts. Also watch for sonar blips indicating suspended fish around inundated creek and river channels. Start first at the mouth of a major tributary, working mid-depth crankbaits back and forth across the area, then moving up the stream channel itself. Follow the channel edge as closely as possible, looking for nuances of unusual structure—bank cuts, humps, points, bends, lines of timber—that may concentrate fish. Outside bends and junctions of two channels are hotspots to check, especially during the middle of hot days. 6. Bridge Game. Hot-weather bass also orient to bridge pilings and deep riprap. With sonar, ease along bridge pilings and spot any fish concentrations while also pinpointing their depth. When you locate fish, back away and cast beyond the pilings, allowing a jig or spoon to fall to the correct depth before beginning a slow retrieve. Keep the lure close to the pilings, bumping them occasionally. When fishing riprap, concentrate on rocks under the bridge. Usually, bass hold at the deepest edge, enjoying the shade provided by the bridge. Work spinnerbaits or bottom-bouncing crankbaits here, and prepare for some fun. 7. Stumped. Near dawn and dusk, you may find summer largemouths in stump fields on deep flats near the edge of major stream channels. These fish tend to fan out over large areas, but by fan-casting plastics or crankbaits from an anchored boat, you often can catch loads of nice bass. When you catch one fish, cast immediately to the same spot, repeating your casts until you no longer catch fish. If you don’t find a bass again quickly, move. A common mistake is staying in one place too long. 8. Nighttime’s the Right Time. Summer bass feed even during the bright light of midday in murky waters, but bass in clear waters shift most feeding activity to night to avoid intense sunlight. One way to catch them is fishing a crawler like the Arbogast Jitterbug along edges of aquatic vegetation such as lily pads and milfoil. Retrieval speed is critical. Too slow and the crawler won’t make the gurgling sound that attracts bass. Too fast and the lure hydroplanes with no action. The best speed produces a pronounced wobble and loud gurgle. But if bass ignore a steady retrieve, add an occasional pause or twitch. 9. S-L-O-W Rolling. Slow-rolling a spinnerbait is a good way to entice summer hawgs. Bring the lure up to a stump, log or bush and ease it over. Then allow it to flutter down into the living room of an unsuspecting lunker. 10. Stormy Weather. When a summer storm hits, bass may abruptly quit biting. With lightning or high waves, leave immediately. If it’s safe to stay, though, look for bass in the thickest available cover—willow thickets, lily pads, etc. Position your boat so the wind blows you against the cover. Then work a noisy topwater lure such as a prop bait or buzzbait parallel to the cover’s edge, as close to the vegetation as possible, to draw the bass out. 11. Follow the fish. If you fish throughout summer, it helps to track your quarry’s seasonal movements to find bass concentrations. Immediately after spawning, bass are usually on structure leading from shallow bedding sites to deep-water summer haunts, structures like secondary stream channels and long sloping points. As summer wanes and day-length shortens, they make short forays between deep and shallow water, again using travel lanes like points, but also using shorter routes on humps, bluffs and other steep structure. In mid-summer, they’re usually near the thermocline adjacent deep structure. Follow the fish. Know where they’re likely to be when you start your search. 12. Pump ‘em up. Vertical jigging with a lipless crankbait is deadly on bass suspended around structure such as bluffs, bridge pilings and sunken islands. Position your boat over the target structure, then lower the lure to the bottom. Engage your reel and take up slack. Jerk the lure off the bottom two to three feet, and let it free-fall. Maneuver your boat along structure, pumping the lure this way.