Weather conditions profoundly affect bass fishing, and summer weather patterns can wreak havoc on your day of fishing if you don’t prepare for hot weather, hot water, and temperamental bass.
Before embarking on your next fishing trip during the summertime, check out the following 11 tips for summer bass fishing success that WILL help you catch more bass during hot weather.
Tip #1 Increase Speed for Summertime Bass. Surprise!
Bass can become weary and picky when the water heats up. I like experimenting with different lure and bait retrieval speeds when summer temperatures set in. I have often noticed that bass resist the temptation to eat when they have too long to look at bait.
When they are not super motivated to eat, slowly working your bait may hinder your chances of eliciting a bite. Tricking a bass into biting may become very difficult when they become resistant.
When bass are not interested in eating because of high water temperatures, I often find success by fishing for reaction bites. So, try speeding things up next time you face a tough summer bite.
By speeding things up, bass will often have less time to examine the bait and respond to a moving bait out of a reaction motivation versus a feeding motivation. Instinct kicks in. Use the instinct of the predator bass to your advantage to get more bites.
Tip #2 Go Deep for Offshore Bass During Summer Months
When the hot weather hits, it’s no secret to bass anglers that fish head for the deep, positioning themselves on cover, preferably cover related to deep water structure.
Offshore humps, ledges, and points are prime candidates for fish hunting when the water temperatures are high. I like using Navionics or LakeMaster to identify key offshore areas at home. Once I’ve located those areas, I’ll drop a waypoint on a spot that warrants further on-the-water investigation.
Once on the water, I use my big motor to idle over prospective areas in hopes of marking fish on my graphs.
Once I’ve located fish, I head to the bow, drop the trolling motor, and use my bow-mounted graph and trolling motor to narrow my search and start fishing.
If fish are tight to a brush, rock pile, or other noticeable cover, I’ll focus my efforts on those areas with something that will elicit a reaction strike first, like a faster-moving crankbait.
After several attempts with the crankbait, if I’ve had no success, I’ll slow down and fish the area with something slower like a drop shot or football jig, now looking to entice a bass to eat rather than working on them to elicit a reaction bite.
Throwing something like a flutter spoon merges the reaction bite and hunger bite approach. Spoons can be a highly effective lure for fishing deep offshore spots for bass.
Tip #3 Why Topwater Works for Bass When the Water is Hot
Many anglers neglect topwater lures when the weather starts to heat up, thinking that bass simply aren’t interested in topwater offerings. In my experience, that’s simply not the case.
I’ve seen some of the biggest topwater blowups in my life smack dab in the middle of the day. Bass may be hunkered down under cover, but when presented with the right topwater lure, they can be tempted to come out of hiding.
Poppers and prop baits are go-to baits for midday, hot weather action. Tie one on, and you’ll have access to bass through lures that many bass fishermen ignore during bright, hot, and sunny days.
It’s no secret that bass seek some of the thickest cover in a lake when temperatures soar. Although there are a number of effective ways to fish thick cover for bass, like punching heavy vegetation, one of my favorite presentations is frog fishing.
Using a frog to cover matted vegetation in hot summer can be a productive search and catch technique. Bass detect the presence of frog-style lures on the surface via their sense of sight or sound and can be tempted to move from their protective cover to grab the prey above them. Popping-style or speed frogs can be effective styles to catch summertime bass.
For an in-depth look at when bass hit topwater lures, check out When Do Bass Hit Topwater from Bass Fishing Insider.
Tip #4 How to Fish High Percentage Areas for Summer Bass
I’m a big believer in fishing the obvious, but sometimes, to “outsmart the fish,” I tend to overcomplicate things.
I have to remind myself to fish the high percentage areas every time I’m on the water. Summertime means hotter weather and higher sun, which, needless to say, pushes bass to spots where they are protected from the heat via some sort of cooler environment.
The following structure and cover are perfect high-percentage spots for catching bass in the summer:
- Lily pads
- Matted vegetation
- Log laydowns
- Deepwater structure
- Overhanging trees
- Reeds -see “How to Fish for Bass in the Reeds” for a great read on catching bass in the cover of reeds.
When I’m out, my best bet is to stop trying to reinvent the wheel by being overly creative. Bass will gravitate to the most comfortable holding spots they can find during intense heat situations. So my best bet is to beeline it to those zones, hunker down, and fish with the odds by focusing on those high percentage areas.
Tip #5 The Best Fishing Time for Summer Bass
Choosing your fishing time wisely can pay big dividends for summer bass.
Mornings are one of my favorite times to fish as I try to beat the high sun and hot summer temperatures. Fish are more active and feed more intensely at daylight. Getting out on the water at sunrise can keep your body cool while you reap the rewards of a hot bite. The morning is the most likely time to see schooling bass, so keep something tied on to throw at schoolers when they pop up (fluke, topwater, etc.) Moving baits for the morning bite is key to targeting active fish.
Midday can get tricky when it comes to summertime fishing. Fish tend to retreat to deep water and or thick cover. The best tactics for a midday or an afternoon bite usually involve targeting areas where bass like to hole up. I’ve also noticed over the years that I will often have to hit the fish right in its strike zone to get a bite during these times of the day.
Flipping or punching creature baits or worms at specific targets is a great way to make many presentations to high percentage areas. Instead of breezing through an area quickly, I find it best to slow down and meticulously pick apart areas when the sun is high.
As the evening time approaches and the sun begins to fade, the fish tend to become aggressive again. The evening bite can mirror the morning bite as fish get active. Moving baits prevail again, so choose a bait or lure that can cover water quickly for the best results. Some of my favorites are buzzbaits, toads, and rattle traps.
Tip #6 How to Use Daily Weather Changes to Catch More Bass
On a macro level, we know summer brings more sun, longer days, higher temperatures, and hotter water. However, each day may have smaller micro weather patterns to which we should pay close attention.
Generally, high sun and hot temps mean that fish seek heavier, thicker cover and push farther back into cover. Conversely, when cloud cover thickens, bass tend to venture out more and roam.
I recently practiced at the St. Johns River for a tournament with two of my sons on a sweltering Florida summer day. We focused on thick cover by flipping and punching heavy vegetation with moderate success.
However, about mid-afternoon, clouds began to roll in, and a period of overcast, cooler weather set in. In a very short time, the fishing changed dramatically. The fish started to get significantly more active. Bass began popping up, chasing bait and schooling. Our approach immediately changed as we adapted to the changing conditions. We switched to moving baits and started getting bites and catching fish immediately.
By paying attention to subtle intraday weather changes, you’ll be able to take advantage of exceptional fish-catching opportunities just like our St. Johns River practice experience.
Tip #7 Secret: Multiple Presentations for Summertime Bass
Much like humans, fish appetites can suffer when exposed to extreme heat. Consider yourself after working out or coming inside just after a day in the hot sun. I’m not interested in eating until my body has had time to settle and cool off. Fish may be reacting in the same way. My laymen’s hypothesis is that, perhaps, that is one of the reasons that they feed better in cooler parts of the day (morning, evening, and cloud cover).
Since appetites may be suppressed during hotter weather, I’ve employed a different tactic that has paid off at times. When I find a piece of cover or area that I believe should hold fish, I won’t give up on the spot after an initial presentation.
I like to make multiple presentations to a spot before moving on, especially if the spot is ripe for holding bass. Next time you’re out in the heat, try making 5 to 10 casts to a spot to “hot bother” bass into reacting and biting. You’ll be surprised at how well this technique can work for fish who aren’t necessarily interested in eating but can be pestered into latching on to your lure.
Tip #8 Downsize Your Bait for Summer Bass Fishing
When presented with tough conditions, choosing baits with a smaller profile is often wise. Summer bass fishing can be prime time for going with smaller, finesse-sized baits to entice sluggish bass to bite.
Try picking up your spinning reel, tying on a wacky rig, drop shot, or smaller weightless worm, and working it extra slowly. I’ve occasionally had to let soft plastics sit for a minute or two before seeing any response on super hot days.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with smaller baits fearing that you’ll only catch small fish. That’s simply not the case when it comes to fishing for bass in hot weather. Bass still need to eat but may not have the “oomph” to get up and chase bigger prey. Teasing them with smaller finesse baits might just do the trick — give it a shot the next time you’re faced with less-than-ideal weather situations.
Tip #9 How to Find Summertime Bass by Locating Cooler Water
Finding a section of the lake or river set apart in some way, shape, or form can pay considerable dividends in bass fishing. When the heat is on, look for areas of your target body of water that are cooler than the rest of the lake.
Consider spending time at home before heading out to research the topography, looking for places where there might be cooler water. For example, do you see a spring-fed portion of the lake? How about water flowing into the lake from a creek? Those are the kinds of situations that warrant special attention.
Once you arrive at the lake, keep an eye on your fishfinder’s temperature gauge. Even the slightest drop in water temperature can mean big things for your day of fishing. Fish can find subtle differences in water temperature and migrate to those areas to cool off and find respite from the heat.
Tip #10 Why Go Shallow for Summer Bass
It’s a well-known and accepted fact that bass tend to head to deep water when the water temperature rises. However, overlooking shallow water can be a costly mistake.
Shallow water bass are there for a reason: to eat. Finding bass up shallow usually means you’ll likely find a bass more responsive to your bait because they’re looking for forage. Working the bank for summer bass is a great way to find bass that are willing and ready to eat.
Summer is a great time to look for bream beds up shallow as well. Find a bream bed, and you’ll also find bass. Once you’ve located the beds, work the beds using a topwater popper or fluke to grab the attention of bass nearby.
If you’re up in a canal, creek, or even the main lake, keep your eyes peeled for any storm drain system or culvert. Fresh and cooler water entering the lake is a draw for shallow-water summertime bass. Try working those areas with a drop shot or Senko to keep the bait in front of the fish a little longer.
I’ve noticed that the best shallow water is close to a deeper holding area. Fish push up shallow off their deeper holding spots for one reason- to EAT. So focus on shallow areas related to closeby deep structure for best results.
Tip #11 Special Tips for Summer Bass Fishing from the Bank
I love fishing for bass from the bank during the summertime, especially on smaller bodies of water. On smaller lakes, ponds, rivers, and other water, fishing the bank can pay off in big ways because bass love cover, and bank fishing provides ample opportunities to find summertime cover for bass.
I like to travel light when bank fishing, but for summer bass, I usually carry a couple of rods if space permits. One that I always like to have on me is a rod that can handle thick cover with heavier line, usually braid. With this setup, I like to keep it rigged with some sort of soft plastic.
If I anticipate pitching to heavier shoreline cover, I’ll gear up with a weighted soft plastic like a creature bait that I can use to punch through matted or thicker vegetation. I like tungsten weights because their smaller profile allows them to penetrate cover more easily. The size of the weight depends on the thickness of the vegetation. Thicker cover means a heavier weight so that I can punch through effectively. Ideally, I’ll want a weight just heavy enough to get through the vegetation but not so heavy that it causes a huge commotion when entering the water (so I don’t spook the fish). I also want to use as light of a weight as possible (but one that can still penetrate the cover) so that the fall rate is slow enough to stay in front of the bass for a long enough time upon initial entry into the water.
On rod number 2, I’ll keep something tied on that can cover water and elicit a topwater bite, especially if I see them pop up in a school. My go-to lures are a popper or a topwater frog. If I suspect I’ll be fishing more open water; I opt for the popper because it is equipped with treble hooks, and the hookup ratios are better.
If I expect fishing heavier cover like water with lily pads or topped out (matted) hydrilla, I tie on a frog because they fish somewhat weedless. I can cast and retrieve the frog in places that a popper can never get, but I expect to miss more fish on the frog because the hooks are buried to prevent snags and getting stuck.
Check out this great article on how to catch bass from the bank for loads of tips and secrets for landing more bass from the shore.
7 Summer Bass Fishing Rigs You Can’t Live Without
- Texas Rig Worm
The Texas rig worm is one of my all-time favorites for summertime bass fishing. I like to have it by my side because it is probably the most versatile bait for bass fishing and is excellent for light to heavy cover. Bass can’t resist it when worked slowly through vegetation, over laydowns, or other cover.
2. Swim Jig
Swim jigs are a go-to bait for warm-weather bass and are particularly suitable for various applications. Swim jigs are perfect for working through lily pads or other thick cover as they are usually built to be weedless. They’re also an ideal bait for working in areas with a bluegill spawn as they mimic that prey well.
3. Punch Bait
If you’re bass fishing for summertime bass in matted grass, hydrilla, or hyacinths (like we do in Florida), having a heavier weighted punch bait on is mandatory. Bass like to seek some of the thickest shade that they can find. Often, I’ll put on 1 to 1.5-ounce weight on a soft plastic creature bait to punch through the thick stuff to get to waiting bass. It’s highly productive and usually results in a bigger bite.
4. Crank Bait
Warm water often means that the bass are sticking to deep structure. One of the best ways to fish cover (brush piles, for example) on deep structure is by using a deep-diving crankbait. Slow rolling the crankbait over a target can stir up a school and produce large numbers of bass.
5. Prop Bait
Bass like wounded prey, especially when they’re not as motivated to move because the water is hot. A prop bait can be a great tool to grab the attention of a bass not overly eager to eat because the predator (bass) identifies the prey (prop bait) as an easy target. I have had great results targeting SHALLOW water cover with the prop bait and have seen some giants caught in some of the most extreme weather.
6. Drop Shot
Once again, bass love to hunker down in deep structure. Try throwing a finesse bait at them when you locate bass with your electronics on a point, ledge, or underwater hump and the weather’s hot. A drop shot is one of the most effective summer bass fishing rigs as it allows the bait to stay in the strike zone for a long time.
7. Wacky Rig
Last but certainly not least is the wacky rig. Sometimes, fish aren’t ready to chase and are not aggressive enough for a faster-moving bait. When the sun is bright, and the temperatures are high, bass love to retreat to docks or overhanging trees for shade.
When they’re tucked into the shade, I jump at the opportunity to use a spinning reel with lighter line to skip a wacky rigged worm under a dock or overhanging trees. It’s a phenomenal way to get to hard-to-reach fish that don’t see much pressure because most anglers can’t get to them because they’re using the wrong bait. Skipping does take a decent amount of practice, but the rewards are huge if you can execute properly.
Final Word. The Bass Line.
Summer weather patterns can create unique challenges for bass fishermen. However, by approaching your fishing day with smart tactics and strategies, you can use the weather to your advantage to outsmart your worthy opponent. Try employing some of the techniques above, and you’ll be sure to catch more bass in the summertime heat. Tight lines, and go get ‘em!