Bass Fishing in Hot Weather – What I’ve Witnessed Underwater

When the weather turns steamy and water temperatures rise, bass anglers often have a hard time. Spending hundreds of hours filming underwater has given me some great insights as to where bass are hanging out and what it takes to get them to bite

When bass fishing in hot weather, it is important to remember bass are cold-blooded and do not have eyelids. These biological features instinctually force them to look for more comfortable water temperatures and seek shade.

When bass anglers focus on these two critical components of hot weather fishing they are more apt to be in the right places.

Bass Fishing and Water Temperature

Like us, bass will seek out temperatures that are more comfortable. While we have the option of avoiding high heat by stepping into a room with air conditioning and a twenty-degree difference, bass do not have that opportunity.

When many lakes start to form thermoclines in the heat of the summer, the temperature difference between the surface and the start of the thermocline may only be a couple of degrees. 

I have witnessed surface temps at 81°F and 79°F at a depth of twenty-five feet. To us, this is not a big difference. But to a bass, that is a noticeable change.

I have been asked many times why the bass do not go below the thermocline where the temperatures take a sudden plunge. The answer lies in the amount of absorbed oxygen in the water. Below the thermocline, the amount of oxygen decreases enough that most bass will not venture there.

This largemouth bass is hanging on a textbook 45-degree bank. These bottom structures are key locations to find bass all year but can be magnets for huge schools of fish in the heat of the summer.

Fish Steep Banks to Find Big Summer Bass

Bass, like most wild creatures, are wired to survive. This means taking in more calories than they burn.

To find comfortable water temperatures they do not want to wander hundreds of yards. Quick adjustments vertically offer them the chance to find where they want to be without much lateral movement. 

I have scoured clearer water lakes in the heat of summer looking where the bass are most likely to be. Time-and-time again 45° banks are the key. This steeper bottom profile is a bass magnet on most bodies of water. 

Bass Will Find Shade and Follow it Through the Day

The natural instinct to avoid bright sunlight is strong. I have seen many bass piled up under a dock when the water is 41°F and much of the lake is still covered in ice.

While we may find sitting in the shade in frigid conditions counter-intuitive, the lack of eyelids drive bass to seek shade even when it may be warmer out in the sun.

Crank up the heat, or I should say intense sunlight, during the dog days of summer, and the importance of shade increases exponentially. 

During the summer months, the sun climbs high in the sky and beats down at a more direct angle than in the winter. The extreme brightness will push bass to find those protected areas. That can either be by diving to depths where the light doesn’t penetrate as much, or it is moving under cover that offers a lot of protection.

Even in lakes or rivers that offer little as far as overhead shade, the smallest shadows created by trees and brush are often enough to position fish and should be approached carefully. And by little, I mean a shady area the size of a laptop can hold bass when the rest of the surrounding water is being hammered by the light.

You can see the number of bass in this one school hanging on a 45-degree bank. There are even more just out-of-view. While this school is of small bass, there are groups of good fish just like this on steep structure during the summer.

What Attracts One Bass Will Often Attract Many

When the weather is hot, I have seen the old adage 10% of the water holds 90% of the fish creep closer to 1% of the water holds 99% of our favorite finned friends.

Take the above-mentioned 45° bank example. When filming underwater recently, I spent hours and hours looking for bass in the heat of the summer. 

When I finally located them on this steep bottom composition, it wasn’t just one or two I found – but many, many bass. There were both largemouth and smallmouth on the same structure. There were bass from a variety of year classes. 

Schools of 15-20 two-year-olds were also accompanied by fish that were 2lbs, 4lbs, and even bigger. 

An area 15-20 yards wide held such a number of fish it was unbelievable to witness. The scary part is this literal honey-hole would be incredibly easy to miss. It is unnerving to think that one cast a little to the left or the right means that an incredible outing just as easily can be one of empty casts.

When we catch a bass during hot weather it is important to not dismiss that little 10 inch fish and quickly move on. That small fish that bit your lure may be the one that reveals an entire pile of bass.

Yes, it is true that bass like to school by year class, but as I mentioned earlier while filming underwater I have seen if an area is preferred by one fish there is a good chance that many more are there as well of different sizes.

Best Lures and Techniques for Bass Fishing in Hot Weather

Think back a few paragraphs where I mention how easy it was to miss a huge school of fish. 

With this in mind, I will often use some sort of searching lure to cover as much water as I can efficiently. This may include things like topwaters, deep diving cranks, a swim jig, or even a Carolina Rig. 

When I catch a bass I will continue to probe that area with the same lure. Most of the time I land a second or third bass quite quickly. When the bite on that lure slows down or stops, I will then grab something that can pick apart and probe the target zone in detail.

This is where I like to use jigs, shaky heads, Ned rigs, drop shot rigs, and other presentations that really let me soak the lure in a small area.

Another thing that I have learned and witnessed by filming so many bass underwater, is that they are very curious creatures. 

It would drive most anglers crazy if they knew how many times a bass swims up to look at a lure and then turns away. I’ve seen it. A lot. That is why soaking a high-percentage area with different lures in hot weather is the ticket to catching many bass from a single location.

Final Thoughts

It is important to remember that fishing in hot weather is often more uncomfortable for us than it is the bass we are chasing. 

Target steep banks that allow for quick access to various depths and follow the shade all throughout the day. 

Once you catch a single fish, assume there are quite a few more sitting there. Fish it carefully and with multiple lures. 

You will soon be on your way to becoming a hot-weather bass fishing guru.

Be safe. Tight lines. And make sure to encourage someone today. You never know how you may change their life forever.

Isaiah 6:8

Steve Rogers

Steve spends his time filming and writing about bass fishing. You may even see him in your area. If so, stop and say "hi."

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