How many fishermen have you heard whining about how terrible summer bass fishing is?I have always caught some of my biggest bass during these hot months. And believe it or not, most of those good bites have come right in the heat of the day. The hardest part is convincing yourself to stay out there in that sauna. Is it really worth it?
For me, the answer is yes. There is nothing better than catching a huge bass. Let’s define huge. In my book, that’s anything over 8 pounds. An 8-pounder gets you into the FWC’s Trophy Catch club, so it’s a good weight to identify a huge bass with.
Every big bass I’ve caught has been on a soft plastic bait of some sort. Whether it was a swimbait, crawfish, or just a worm, the one thing that all of these baits have had in common is they are bigger than what you might normally use.
During tournaments over the last two years, I have weighed in three bass over 8 pounds, and two of them were over 9 pounds. The first 9-pounder was on a Gambler Big EZ swimbait in July. That was the only time I got one early in the day. A few months later I caught a bass that was 9.5 pounds on a big jig with a Mega Daddy crawfish trailer. The 8-pound bass was caught with a 9.5-inch Zoom worm.
Bass love big easy meals in the summer months. The heat allows them to digest food quickly, and also raises their metabolic rate so they need more food. But it makes them lazy too, and they don’t want to chase dinner. The trick is finding them, and to do that, you have to have a willingness to get into thicker cover that you may not normally fish.
Every one of these three bass were taken from very thick cover. That first bass was taken right on the edge of a thick, deep line of lily pads. These pads extended roughly 100 yards from the bank of the lake and were thick enough that you couldn’t even get your bait in water most of the time. I would bring the bait back slowly over small open spots in the pads to get my bites.
The 9.5-pounder was taken out of some heavy Kissimmee grass. Again, finding those small openings in the grass was the trick. Dropping that jig and craw combo into those spots can be dicey, but once you get the hang of it, that bait can really weed out some big bass. Those openings in heavy cover offer an ambush spot for the bass. Any unsuspecting prey can become a fast meal for a bass hiding in these shadowy areas.
The 8-pounder hit a worm pulled through some thick underwater hydrilla. A simple Texas-rigged worm worked very slowly gives the bass a chance to find it. In cover like that, a long worm seems to work best. The longer the worm makes it easier for the bass to find it and lock in on it.
One key thing to remember about this type of fishing: Look near the outer edge of that submerged vegetation and try to find a point or some oddity. These little areas will often be magnets for the biggest bass around.
Heavy cover is a lot of fun to fish, but it can be very frustrating as well. You have to put in your time, and you have to be willing to fish in the warmer parts of the day. Remember, just because it’s hot out does not mean the bass quit biting. They will eat — just a little differently.
My wife and I have been on a tear the past two months. We have found a huge pad field on a lake near us. Every time we go out there, we catch one over 6 pounds. We have had a shot at some bigger bass that have awed us. But as you’ll find out, when you fish this style, you’re not going to get them all to the boat.
Give those bigger baits a try and get into that thicker cover. It may take some time to get used to it, but once you do, you stand a good chance of hanging a huge bass.
Greg Bartz is a tournament bass fisherman based in Lakeland. Greg fishes lakes throughout Florida’s Heartland and enjoys RV travel around the Southeast with his wife and tournament partner, Missy. Contact him at Greg.Bartz@SummitHoldings.com.