I struggle, like many, when bass fishing in the dead of summer. The bass become lethargic and the recreational boat traffic does a great job of keeping us away from our favorite holes. When targeting summer bass, I consider points, swings, and ledges.
Points, Swings, and Ledges
What is a point? Any place protruding from the shoreline into the body of water can serve as a point. These are natural holding areas for bass because they offer ready access to deeper water and serve as terrific ambush places for any kind of prey venturing by. As a general rule the longer the taper and the deeper the nearby water the better. The key here is bass can move onto and off of points very easily, without expending a lot of energy. The bass will use the point as a trap into which they herd and feast on baitfish.
Next let’s look at what constitutes swings. A simplified definition is a channel turn. This turn could be on the main river or in a creek – doesn’t matter. Places where the channel changes direction are money. The harder the turn the better. As a general rule the flow (current) will be faster along the outside, slower (often to a point where water will sometimes eddy) along the inside. Baitfish are often herded by the current into outside turns. Baitfish will also seek out areas with less current, like the inside swings, in order to escape the effects of current. The lesson here is to target both because bass go where the bait goes.
The final piece to summer bass fishing is ledges. Ledges are any place where there is an abrupt change in depth. I normally look for a depth change of at least one foot. This isn’t a hard and fast rule though. In tidal waters six inches may be a steep drop. All ledges can be good but those ledges on or near channel swings are best. Be sure to keep an eye out for manmade enhancements like rock or brush piles. Any ledge on a channel swing with enhancements is someplace special.I spend most of my summer fishing targeting water 8-15’ deep. This depth range gives bass protection from direct sunlight but is still light enough for them to use their eyesight when they’re feeding. This band of the water column tends to be fairly stable when it comes to temperature and oxygen content, making it the perfect safe haven. A bass doesn’t have to move very far to get to feeding areas from this depth. Bass in this depth range are more likely to feel less pressured. Many of us spend lots of time targeting shoreline cover. We’re trolling or idling over the places where bass are likely hanging out. Try backing off a cast length or two from the shoreline after fishing the banks.
For presentations the key is to think low and slow. Jigs, and Texas- or Carolina-rigged plastics are my go-to presentations. Do not rule out deep diving crankbaits for times when bass are more active. Top water presentations are must-haves in all scenarios. Bass will often come up from deeper water to strike something it perceives to be a baitfish in distress. Another must-have is a suspending jerkbait. It gives the bass another, deeper view of a baitfish in distress. Like winter presentations, long pauses can be effective in drawing strikes from lethargic summer bass.
To get started summer bass fishing, purchase a map of the lake. Map study will be invaluable when planning the next summertime bass outing. Mark some pronounced points, swings, and ledges to target summer bass. Finding a point sitting on a hard channel swing with steep ledges should get a double circle around it. It will be a very special place to fish. Using slower presentations will help entice strikes from lazy bass. Keep a moving bait and top water rig handy for those times when bass become active.Some summer safety reminders to close out:
- Drink plenty of fluids. Water and electrolyte drinks, not soft drinks or alcohol. Start drinking early. Drink often.
- Wear a PFD. Fishing main lake or river areas puts the boat right in the middle of recreational boat traffic. It’ll be bouncy. Keep the vest on just in case.
- Protect exposed skin. Today’s UV-protectant clothing give a solid alternative to sunscreens. Don’t forget facial protection!