STORIES OUT THERE FISHING By: Keith 'Catfish' Sutton, WorldFishingNetwork.com Top 10 Places to Find Summer Bass During the hot summer months, quality bass in good numbers can be found and caught; you just need to identify and fish the target-rich areas To catch bass when sweat is gushing from your pores, you need to zero in on prime fishing hotspots where bass enjoy the comforts of home. (Jeff Phillips photo) Lakes, reservoirs and rivers contain many bass hotspots. If you’re lucky, you can pick a spot at random, cast a lure and reel in largemouths. But most of us aren’t so lucky. For consistent success, we need to know where, specifically, hungry bass are likely to be. During summer, some places definitely are better than others, including the following 10 locales where bass gather like bears around a salmon run, gobbling every morsel that passes by. The Thermocline During summer, many lakes stratify into three layers: cold, poorly oxygenated water on bottom; warm, moderately oxygenated water on top; and a layer of cool, oxygen-rich water called the thermocline in the middle. Summer bass stay in or near the thermocline where oxygen levels and water temperature are optimal. The thermocline’s depth and thickness vary from lake to lake. To find it, watch the sonar on your boat for suspended fish—any fish. Most will be within a specific stratum of water. That’s the thermocline. When fishing, start at that depth, and stay at that depth unless all else fails. Shallow Ledges and Channel Breaks Watch for shallow ledges and channel breaks, too. These aren’t deep drop-offs into major river or creek channels, but rather shallow ditches, cuts and ledges in coves or near bluffs. The best structures are associated with nearby weedbeds, timber stands or other bass cover. Jigs and big soft-plastic crayfish are ideal for fishing these structures. Cast from your boat to work them down drop-offs, hopping them stair-step fashion. Docks and Piers Summer bass may move shallow, even on sunny days, if they can find shade. Boat docks and fishing piers provide this and may produce bass throughout the day. Savvy anglers often position their boat close and use a short spinning or spincasting outfit to shoot a jig or plastic worm into tight areas underneath. Prepare for a hit as the lure falls, but if nothing strikes, a slow retrieve near bottom frequently produces. Green Weedbeds Green aquatic vegetation attracts baitfish, frogs, crayfish and other bass forage. Bass follow. Summer anglers should, too. Bass prefer parcels of cover and structure that interrupt the continuity of a weedbed. In other words, look for something different to fish—an isolated log or stump surrounded by vegetation, a point of weeds, an inner pocket of open water or another distinguishing feature. Soft-plastic rats or frogs cast with spinning tackle are good lures here. Position your boat near the weed line and throw to openings, allowing the lure to sit a while before retrieving it with short jerks. If the lure is weedless, cast it on top of plants, then pull it off and swim it slowly between them. Fish Attractors Fisheries agencies often sink reefs of trees to make fish attractors. Those in deeper water hold bass throughout summer and are easily found by locating marker buoys or attractor signs. Use your boat’s sonar to determine boundaries of an attractor, then cast to the edge using a sinking lure such as a lipless crankbait or jig. Count the lure down until you get a hit or hit brush. If you get a hit, use the same count next cast. If you hit brush, use a shorter count. You’ll quickly determine a pattern that nabs bass. Backs of Tributary Creeks Fishing backs of tributary creeks is another fruitful summer tactic. Bass like these areas because of cooler temperatures, higher oxygen levels and good food supplies. Spring-fed creeks are especially productive. Look for tributaries with steady current and plentiful woody cover. Motor your boat upstream, then fish your way out, casting a Texas-rigged plastic worm or other weedless lure around cover in the creek channel and along both banks. Bridge Pilings and Adjacent Riprap Summer bass also orient to bridge pilings and deep riprap. These structures offer a combination of hot-weather drawing cards, including current, depth, forage and cover. Bass may be suspended near pilings, on shoreline riprap or along the channel beneath the bridge. While watching your sonar, ease your boat along pilings and note the depth of fish concentrations. Then back away and cast beyond the pilings, allowing your lure to fall to the correct depth before beginning a slow retrieve. Keep the lure close to pilings or rocks, bumping them occasionally. A plastic frog or rat hopping off the riprap into adjacent water may draw smashing strikes, too. Stump Fields Near dawn and dusk, you may find summer bass in stump fields on deep flats near bottom channels. These fish often scatter, but by fan-casting plastics or crankbaits from an anchored boat, you’ll often catch loads of nice largemouths. When you catch one fish, cast immediately to the same spot, repeating 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. Inundated Lakes and Ponds Small ponds and lakes inundated when larger lakes fill are prime locales for hot-weather largemouths. These offer easy access to deep-water holding areas and shallow feeding spots. They’re especially productive in large shallow lakes. Pinpoint the spot with your boat’s sonar, then look within it for points, drop-offs or humps that may attract bass. If scattered trees or stumps exist around the perimeter, fish them carefully. Cypress Trees Bald cypresses attract bass wherever they are found. Largemouths won’t be around the same trees year-round, however. In summer, action is best around cypresses in or near the deepest water, trees you’ll need a boat to fish. Narrow your fishing areas to particular types of trees. Cypresses standing alone or in small clusters offshore often indicate the presence of an underwater hump and always are worth trying. Trees with big open hollows also should be checked as lunker largemouths hide in dark interiors to ambush prey. Also focus on the outermost cypress trees on points and trees with lots of visible knees some distance from the buttressed trunk. We’ve discussed only 10 hotspots; there are dozens more. What’s important to remember is this: the best boat, bait and tackle are useless unless hungry bass are nearby. If you take time to find the best areas, however, and present your bait in the right manner, the odds improve for catching lots of summer largemouths, including occasional trophies.