Article by: Jamie Wilson on Exist to Fish
The Heat Is On
Okay, it’s hot. The mornings start early and the days are long. And…the fishing is a grind right? Well, I guess. Let’s try and change that.
This is the point of the season when largemouth bass move onto what can be described as more specific haunts. They will follow forage yes, but they will also seek areas of comfort and better yet, areas to ambush prey while escaping the penetrating rays of the mid-day sun. There are many factors that determine their locations in lakes and tributaries such as available cover, oxygen content, water temperature, forage etc.
Prime Real Estate
Now, these “specific” haunts I mentioned. Many largemouth bass in most lakes will move to mid-lake structures such as humps, sunken islands, saddles, main breaklines and long tapering points reaching the main basin and other structures like old road beds and old railway lines. Basically, these fish are relating less to shoreline structures and will seek structures that offer both deep water and shallow water access. For a percentage of largemouth bass, as opposed to their randomly suspended smallmouth cousins, deep weed lines are the order of the day. Prime spots to focus your efforts are irregularities in these weed lines such as sudden inside or outside turns or points in the weedline. This could be a change in bottom composition or mud to substrate transitions, sand and so on.
Now, let’s talk about these mid-lake spots a bit more. The reason that these structures are of such importance is the fact that they can be picked apart from dawn to dusk. As first light peaks its way out, largemouth will follow sunfish into the shallows, which is a part of a trickle-down effect. Bluegills and pumpkinseed (sunfish), along with perch and crappie, will gorge on small minnows that are feeding on hatching insects. Those dimpling baitfish you see are not only feeding, they are trying to evade the hungry sunfish. Then, as the bass move in on the sunfish, you’ll begin to see larger fish breaching the surface, which is when and where I pull out my trusty poppers.
Not many anglers realize that poppers can be walked, but believe me, it is one of the most effective ways to spark a feeding response. My go-to popper is the 4” “Magic Popper” by Lake Fork Trophy Tackle. Its weight forward design allows this bait to walk as steadily or erratically as needed and has accounted for countless bass for yours truly.
Is That The End All be All?
As the sun ascends, the bass will descend into the depths along with the lower food chain. This is when sub-surface baits like medium-deep diving cranks, and eventually bottom contacting baits like the baits Colin discussed earlier. You see, that’s what makes these humps, sunken islands and other aforementioned mid-lake features so important, as bass are relating to these structures all day, and all night. But are these spots the end all, be all at this time of year? Not exactly. It’s just a great place to start.
Another place to look is over-hanging cover, both natural and man-made. Aged docks are a great option when the sun is high, along with over hanging trees. The one key feature of a well producing dock or tree is deep water access directly under or adjacent to said cover.
I always add Liquid Mayhem attractant to all my baits for the sent trail and taste that bass hold on to longer (and for neutral fish).
When the sun gets low, or on overcast days, bass might be in open water, along the edges. This is when swimbaits, spinnerbaits and crankbaits can shine, especially when stumps/washed out trees are present. Bouncing a square bill crankbait or spinnerbait off of a stump or limb can’t be beat when bass are hunkered down or inactive.
Fishing The Junk
Let’s take a look at one more viable option when hunting out largemouth, especially of the larger variety. A high percentage of anglers shy away from fishing in extremely heavy cover such as matted vegetation, thick lily pads and so on. Well, you shouldn’t. I don’t. Neither does Chris Huskilson.
“I love to fish heavy cover” Chris states, “It’s where the big girls sit”. He explains, “Heavy action rods (7’11” Shimano Cumara “Punch Rod”) high speed reels (7.6:1 Shimano Chronarch C14) spooled with Heavy braided line (65lb Power Pro) are a must”. Chris counts on 3/4oz to 1.5oz tungsten Ultra Tungsten “Ultra Punch” skirted weight systems and Ultra Tungsten Bullet weights pegged with a rubber bobber stop are my go to setups for flipping and pitching heavy cover largemouth. He continues “I like to use small profile baits that can easily penetrate the thickest of cover. My go to baits are the Jackall “Cover Craw”, “Satsuteki Craw” and the “Chunk Craw”.
What Chris looks for
He continues “Attention to detail is very important when fishing heavy cover. Multiple flips/pitches into the same matted area are very important to get your bait in front of the fish. I will pitch to the matt, allow the bait to penetrate to the bottom and impart a gentle “yo-yo” like action on my bait a few times. I then repeat until I have thoroughly covered every portion of the matt. I have had several instances in which I had made 5 or 6 pitches into the same piece of cover before I got “bit”, so follow suit and be patient and better yet, stay persistent”. Lili Pads with matted grass in between the leaves are great areas as well as docks with matted grass blown in to them, or a steep bank with blown-in debris can be deadly”.
Now what if this technique fizzles, but you are seeing swirls in this cover? That’s when yours truly pulls out a frog or a weightless swimbait and violently burn it over this heavy “junk”. I’ll get out a 7’6” heavy action flippin’ stick, paired with a 7.6:1 high speed reel spooled with 65lb braid and rig up a hollow body frog or a solid plastic Lake Fork Trophy Tackle Frog (usually white) or a “Live Magic Shad” swimbait and I cover as much of the expanse as possible. A 6/0 superline EWG hook does the trick here, as this cover is of the heaviest variety. When I get a blow-up or two, but miss a big bass, I’ll pitch a follow up bait similar to Chris’s punch baits right back to the spot where I missed one.This “one-two punch” can really round out a day of fishing the junk.
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Author Bio: Jamie Wilson is a passionate lifelong multi-species angler specializing in both smallmouth and largemouth Bass. He is a writer for such online publications as Angling Authority, Rahfish, Exist to Fish Canada and now, Fishulo. Along with being a tournament angler, Jamie comes to us representing the Canadian Bass Angler Fan Page, and he is a staff member/promotional team member for Rage Fish Attractants, Lake Fork Tackle, Rod Sox, Fizards, Easthill Outdoors, Riverrun Tackle, Musky Innovations, Bumblelure, Kamooki Lures ltd.and Bill's Bait and Tackle.
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