When the sun climbs high and the dog days of summer are upon us the bass seem to disappear in the middle of the day. They are still there and eating, but the parts of the lakes and rivers they are using may be quite different.
To catch bass on the hottest summer days anglers need to focus on cooler water. Those areas can be found both shallow and deep. Shallow water will be cooler in the shade and need vegetation that oxygenates the water. Deepwater bass will hang just above the thermocline and be located offshore.
In this article, I will discuss the challenges of fishing in the hottest part of the year and how to overcome those tough scenarios.
We Wished for It, Now We’ve Got It.
It seems like just a few short months ago we were hoping and praying for warmer weather. It gets old fishing in heavy coats and gloves.
Now it’s here.
Those shallow fish only hang around early in the morning and late in the evening. The middle of the day can be downright frustrating.
Don’t despair. Bass in the heat of the summer position themselves in the same places we do when it’s hot – wherever the temperature is more comfortable.
Don’t Forget About the Sunshine
In July and August, we summer from the intense heat. The bass get uncomfortably hot as well, but we cannot forget about the bright rays the sun shoots into the water.
More often than the heat, I feel that the bass avoid the direct sunlight.
I have caught monster bucketmouths in less than two feet of water on the hottest days. They were just located under thick lily pad fields.
Was that water still very warm? Yes. But more importantly, they were out of the direct sunlight.
As we discuss fishing on the hottest summer days, keep in mind light penetration is just as key as temperature.
Cooler Water Means Bass in the Summer
Remember how we were looking for warmer water in the early spring? A few degrees difference can hold bass and make for a great day.
The same thing applies now, but in the other direction.
If you can find water that is slightly cooler than the rest of the main lake you most likely are going to find piles of fish. A nice cool rain that fills a little stream and runs off into a lake, pond, or river can be dynamite.
If this scenario exists, you will find me in the backs of coves, pockets, and creek arms taking advantage of that temperature difference. When you find conditions like this it can attract a pile of fish. The only downside is that the cooler runoff usually only lasts a short while, but if you have had a recent cool summer rain, it always pays to check the backs of those coves.
Shade Holds Bass in Hot Water
Finding shade out of the direct sunlight is another sure-fire way to find cooler water. If you live near some cattle or dairy farms no doubt you have seen twenty cows all standing in the shade of an old oak tree in the middle of a pasture.
The bass will do the same thing.
As the sun moves higher in the sky during the day, the bass will continue to reposition themselves. We can use this to our advantage.
On the hottest days, I have found that pitching a jig to a shady dock needs to be super accurate. If my lure lands a few inches away from the shade I most likely will not get a bite. That lure needs to be dropped on their head because those lunkers have no intention of leaving those cooler shady areas.
This is where casting accuracy is beneficial.
Shade from Vegetation
Locating these types of shady areas is high on my list of go-to spots. The vegetation not only offers fish cooler water because of sun deflection, but it also is highly oxygenated.
Thick stands of vegetation also allow bass to find comfort in deeper water offshore.
These fish are often larger than their shore-hugging cousins and more anglers neglect to locate these off-the-bank bass.
Deep Water Shade
This last form of cooler water is targeted only by select anglers yet it should be a place that all bass enthusiasts look for.
The deepest bass I have ever caught came from Lake Norfork in northern Arkansas. I was using a jigging spoon and pulled up a largemouth from eighty feet of water.
That is crazy. We had to fizz the fish to remove the pressure from the air bladder and then released it to go on its way.
This is an extreme example. Many deepwater fish come in that forty to thirty feet range, yet it takes a commitment to give it a shot.
Bass like to hang at these depths because the sunlight has little penetration and they are comfortable. As I mentioned earlier, these fish see very little fishing pressure and often can be caught easily once located.
If you are fortunate to have a good graph on the bow of your boat make sure to spend some time learning it. Eventually, you will be able to identify a fish on the graph and drop a lure right down to it. Odds are that predator will eat it.
You may have heard of this mysterious location that experienced bass anglers talk about.
Not all lakes and reservoirs have this happen. It depends on how much and how strong the current is through the particular body of water.
What is it?
The thermocline is where the water temps change abruptly because of stratification. There is also a noticeable difference in the oxygen levels above and below a defined thermocline.
Bass will hang just above the thermocline on the hottest summer days. If you can locate the proper depth and fish the thermocline where it naturally intersects with structure you will be in a prime location.
If the sensitivity on your graph is turned up the thermocline will look like a blurry line.
If you can see that it is at twenty feet then start to look for features on the lake bed that intersect with it. Focusing on a rocky point where the thermocline meets it is a classic example.
Build Confidence Fishing Deep Water
It is very easy to attempt to fish deep water for summer bass and then give up and beat the bank again.
It takes time and patience to gain confidence in a new presentation, but when you pull up that first hefty bass from deep water you will be well on your way to unlocking a whole new experience.
There will be days when you are catching fish when others are struggling to get a bite. You can do it and the hottest summer days are the best times to try it out.
Whether you like to focus on cooler water that is shallow or deep, finding those more comfortable temperature zones are the key to unlocking the secrets to hot summer fishing.
There is also a good chance that many other anglers will neglect to venture out on those sweltering days leaving you to have your choice of what to do and where to go.
Be safe. Tight lines, and don’t forget to encourage someone today. You never know how you just may change their life forever.