FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE
In late summer, one fishing pattern is to flip and pitch jigs or soft plastics, or to fish frogs, in matted grass where bass are hunting for bluegills and minnows to eat. When does this pattern stop?
Fall weather can provide some of the best fishing of the year. Lakes are usually not as crowded because the water gets too cool for some water sports, and a lot of guys give up fishing temporarily for deer hunting.
First, I slide the keeper down the shank and away from the eye about 1/8 inch from its original position. Then I place the hook in a fly-tying vice and use either black or red thread to lash around the base of the keeper.
Fishermen are starting to catch on to the importance of profile when using buzzbaits, especially in the fall when the fish are more particular. When you’re fishing a buzzbait and the fish either miss it or just swirl at it, usually it’s a speed thing or the profile in the water isn’t right. They’re keying on something, and you’ve got to figure it out.
We’re still not done with summer yet, but the season is changing and putting the fish closer to the bank again. My three go-to baits for this time of year are a Brian’s Bee, a small Yamamoto buzzbait rigged with a Zoom Horny Toad instead of a skirt and a Yamamoto Chikara 100 square-bill.
A lot of the guys in the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Murray caught fish by skipping buzzbaits under docks. A buzzbait isn’t a lure that you would normally associate with skipping docks, but you can’t argue with success. The only rule is that the flatter the bait, the better you can skip it – like a flat rock skips better than a round one.
A lot of anglers equate smallmouths with rock and gravel bottoms in the summer, but they shouldn’t overlook weeds. Depending on the time of year and available forage, smallmouths will feed in vegetation just as heavily as largemouths.
First, if the school you’ve marked in a certain place – say, a long underwater bar or stretch of vertical ledge – isn’t there next time, the fish are likely to be somewhere in the range of maybe 50 yards in any direction from where you waypointed them in the first place. You idle around using your StructureScan until you relocate them, then make a few casts and try to get them fired up.
It’s July, and time to deal with some of the hottest weather of the year. Whenever surface temperatures start bumping the upper 80s, it can make fishing tough. Unless I’m fishing a lake where ledge fishing is about the only game in town, I look for the thickest cover I can find, wherever I can find it.
There’s a topwater bite all summer somewhere on the lake you fish; it’s just a matter of finding it. There might not be enough topwater fish to win a tournament, but it’s a lot of fun, especially if you’re just out fishing for the heck of it. Topwater fishing in the summer is all about the baitfish.
Go Subtle for Pressured Ledge Bass
What I use to fish a ledge usually depends on the time of the year and my judgment on how much the bass have been pounded.
Finding the right angle for ledge bass
The best part of the ledge-fishing season is when bass first move out in late spring and early summer. The fish aren’t pressured too much yet so they’re not hugging the bottom and they’re more aggressive. When I find fish on a ledge, the first thing I’ll do is move to the outside and cast a crankbait in over the fish.
Go shallow for drop-shot bass
Drop-shot rigs are popular for when bass are holding in deep cover or suspended offshore, but I have found they will work very well in shallow water too. I like to fish them around grass or boat docks, or anywhere there are fish from the prespawn to the postspawn time.
Cheez-It pro Shinichi Fukae
Sizing up shad spawns
The shad spawn is going on in a lot of lakes now, probably later than usual because of the cold winter and cooler spring. Typically, the shad spawn occurs during or just after the bass spawn, when the water temperature rises into the low 70s. Because a shad spawn is a bass magnet, this is the time of year when you want to draw an early flight in a tournament.
Frogs are on the menu
One misconception that a lot of fishermen have about frog fishing is that it’s an early morning deal for really shallow water. Actually, it will work in water as deep as 10 feet, and it will work all day if the conditions are right.
Pop the Top for Springtime Bass
Walking baits have their time and place, but I don’t think you can beat a popper at this time of the year, when the spawn is going full-bore in a lot of lakes. When bass are bedding or have just finished, working a popper over their heads is the best way to get bit. It’s a slower presentation and good for situations where you’re casting at a target such as under a dock.
Catching bedding bass that you can’t see
On lakes that get a lot of fishing pressure, it’s a lot easier to catch fish on bed that you can’t see. By that I mean that if you get close enough to a pressured fish to see it, it’s probably already seen you. It’s either going to move off, or not bite.
Working through the wear and tear
To be a successful fisherman, you’ve got to be casting a lot, using different types of fishing tackle and taking some pounding boat rides. Over time, you’re going to develop aches and pains from arthritis and other ailments that don’t go away.
What’s my line?
There are going to be times when you want to use the exact same lure on a different outfit with different line weights. Maybe you want the lure to dive deeper or shallower, or you’re fishing different type of bottom where it’s to your advantage to fish a stronger, heavier line. With experience, you can pretty much look at a rig and tell whether it’s got 6-, 8- or 12-pound-test line on it, but it’s still helpful to mark the rig somehow.
Take care of your tackle and it will take care of you
I used to not pay too much attention to keeping terminal tackle in good condition, but I’m more organized about it now. Buying new hooks every spring costs a lot of money, and in the past it’s been necessary just because I haven’t taken care of them like I should. Now I keep everything tournament-ready all the time.
Finding the right starting point for spring
Depending on the weather and where the lake is, bass are starting to migrate toward the shallows to spawn. As a result, your job is to find out how far the fish have moved up a creek or bay, both distance and depth-wise.
Putting a stop to short-strikers
A lot of times in the spring, bass tend to short-strike soft plastics, and maybe even bite the tail off. Some anglers just pass these off as small fish, but that’s not always the case. Bigger fish will do it, too, especially when the spawn is going on. They’re not really feeding; they’re just aggravated.