’Tis the season to get physical

2012-12-29 00:00

SUMMER is probably the best season to get physical with the fish and hone your skills with baits and techniques you normally wouldn’t use. The days are longer, temperatures warmer and the general disposition of the fish errs on the positive side. Summer rains normally have the lakes at higher capacity, which means flooded vegetation and the recent spring spawning will have the shallows loaded with baitfish. The summer months truly are an awesome time on the water.

The midday shift in the summer months can be challenging. The high sun and draining heat can put the hoodoo on both the angler and bass. The bass will most definitely be more active in areas where they can locate cooler water temperatures, which should naturally put them off the drops or in areas where current can be found.

Deep cranking is the modus operandi in the midday heat, and to push the boundaries even more, I will fish with brighter colours such as Blue-Chartreuse or Sunshine Shad. Historically these are the colours that just seem to catch me more fish in the heat. A Carolina rig goes hand in hand with deep cranking and I will always alternate my cranking with a Carolina-rigged floating plastic of sorts. I prefer a floating plastic with an extended leader, so the bait naturally elevates off the bottom. I find that the fish generally sit a few feet from the bottom and placing the bait in their strike zone will induce more bites.

On a hot day, there will still be a percentage of the fish that stay shallow, but become extremely difficult to tempt due to the higher water temperature in the shallows, resulting in a lethargic state of mind. My go-to trick for this situation is a five-inch tube fished weightless with a 4/0 or 5/0 hook. The larger hook adds just enough weight for casting and allows the tube to sink just enough before it reaches a state of neutral buoyancy and just hangs a few inches below the surface. This tactic is intended for isolated cover that is located extremely shallow. This is a tedious technique and is designed as an ultra-slow presentation that tempts fish into biting, through sheer irritation, I presume. You need to envisage that a fish is resting on the piece of cover you are targeting and leave the bait there until you draw the strike. Patience is the key, as this is not a water-covering method; it is a pinpoint pattern. But trust me, this tactic works.

Fortunately, the relentless summer heat is more often than not tempered with a cooling afternoon breeze. This breeze is often the cue for most anglers to submit to the elements and call it a day, but if you are serious about what you do, you will position yourself on a wind-blown bank and get to chunking a spinnerbait. The breeze stirs up the water and in the process can cool the temperature by a degree or two. A change like this will activate the baitfish and right behind them will be the bass. A double willow spinnerbait is a fantastic option on a windy bank, as you can fish it fast and vary the depth of your retrieval. Windy points are the key areas in the wind and harder composition banks will increase the effects of the wind, and will even result in a dirty water line that will only help the bite.

If you have had a great day on the water, the evening bite will be the cherry on top. If you have struggled, then you may want to hang around because the last hour or two could change your day as lower light conditions take effect and surface temperatures cool again. A never-fail pattern is getting right up in the shallows and throwing a slow-moving surface bait against the cover. Any top-water bait will more than likely do the trick, but my choice would be a Pop-R-type bait. A popper makes an attractive commotion and can do this in a small area without being moved from the strike zone.

E-mail me with reports, pictures and questions at zorthewitt@

hot mail.com.

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