May 25, 2021
By Lynn Burkhead
In order to be successful in the summer months when fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass, an angler will need a variety of lures to be successful as the sun shines and temperatures rise.
Since summertime bass hang out in a variety of habitat types—a list that includes such diverse things as boat docks, rip-rap, submerged rocks, underwater humps, long sloping points, drop-offs, laydown logs, and aquatic vegetation to name a few—you’ll need more than one lure type to entice a strike from a cagey bass.
When you get out onto the water, if you want to catch a bucketmouth when the summertime heat is on, keep these five lures, or baits as some anglers call them, handy as you head for a great day of angling action.
The first lure choice for summertime success, particularly in the low light of early morning and late evening, is a topwater lure. Few things in bass fishing are more electric than using a surface lure as the day begins or wanes, a style of fishing that can produce a heart-stopping moment as a bruiser bass explodes from below, smashing the bluegill or baitfish colored lure with a viscous predatory strike.
Keep in mind there are several different types of topwater lures. Those include the classic Zara Spook style, a cigar-shaped bait that can be retrieved in a back-and-forth walking motion. Another topwater option is the Pop-R style, a smaller bait with a cupped face that can be retrieved in short pulls as it spits and chugs its way back to the boat. A buzzbait (a spinnerbait with one or two blades that gurgle along on the surface) and a hollow-bodied plastic frog are two other topwater options.
While some topwaters work better than others on a given day, all can draw powerful strikes as the lure is worked over spots that can hide a bass below in cool, shady comfort. Think long points, boat docks, rip-rap rock that lines a dam or a causeway, along the edges of vegetation, or near a piece of submerged timber. While some anglers will throw smaller topwater baits on a spinning rod-and-reel setup in certain situations, most will use a light or medium action graphite baitcasting rod along with a reel filled with monofilament or braided line.
Deep Diving Crankbaits
A second type of bait to use for summer bass is a crankbait. While there are occasions when either a squarebill crankbait or a rattling lipless crankbait will produce a summertime bass, many deep impoundments shine in the warm months as anglers throw deep diving crankbaits towards underwater drains, steep ledges, rising humps, and submerged boulders that can all hold schools of bass.
While bluegill colors can occasionally produce results, usually, the top deep diving crankbait colors during the summer months are going to be something like shad or blueback herring (depending on the lake being fished). You’ll generally want to fish these lures deep near schools of bass that have been marked holding on or near underwater features lying on the lake bottom.
While monofilament line works with deep divers, fluorocarbon line is usually the preferred choice along with a forgiving crankbait style rod, one that often has fiberglass in it. While stiff rods can help set the hook, crankbait treble hooks are notorious for being thrown by battling bass, so you’ll want a rod that “flexes” a bit like a shock absorber during the hookset and fight, allowing an angler to fight the fish back to the boat without losing it.
Finding fish offshore in deeper water can be a challenge, but when you do, there’s usually more than one bass willing to bite. Get your location and lure choice just right, and you can land a half-dozen or more chunky bass in short order, sometimes during the hottest part of the day.
To target bass that are sulking in deeper water near a point, on top of a hump, next to submerged timber, sitting on a breakline (a sharp drop-off into deeper water), or buried deep in matted grass or vegetation, a great summertime lure choice can often be a jig.
While there are times smaller finesse jigs and swim jigs will work, for the most part, summertime fishing demands something heavy. For that reason, keep a 3/8-ounce or 1/2-ounce jig on the deck of your boat. These are best fished on longer graphite baitcasting rods with a heavier action and braided line. Keep in mind most anglers will put some sort of trailer on the back end of their jig, either a soft plastic crawfish or a creature bait with various types of appendages that flutter as the jig falls through the water column.
Top color choices here will be a black-and-blue jig, a green pumpkin version, or a jig that features a rubber-skirt comprised of various strands of brown, green, blue and/or orange hues. And in southern lakes that have huge clouds of shad or blueback herring, don't forget to have a jig or two—heavier swim jigs are a good choice here—that can imitate these offshore baitfish schools.
To fish a jig for summertime bass, cast or flip it towards deeper structure (bottom features like points, humps, and breaklines), holes in vegetation, and/or submerged cover (stumps, logs, and boulders). Then methodically work the bait back by pumping the rod tip up gradually, slowly lowering it back towards the surface, and reeling slowly throughout the process to keep slack out of the line.
Once you feel the soft thump of a fish's take at the end of your line, reel down and eliminate slack quickly before rearing back to set the hook hard. And don’t forget to keep the line tight as you fight the fish back to the boat!
For those who aren’t intimately familiar with the sport of professional bass fishing, it was an Outdoor Channel television show a few years ago with Major League Fishing pro Kelly Jordon that introduced the concept of using flutter spoons to catch summertime bass.
What’s a flutter spoon some might ask? A flashy, elongated oval of metal that checks in with a weight of 3.5-ounces in some cases. While this lure isn’t always the easiest one to toss, the results can be phenomenal on a hot summer day when they’re cast into deeper water from 10 to 30-foot depths as bass hang out on offshore spots.
If you’re going to fish a flutter spoon, the first step is to find fish congregating in deeper water, something that an angler’s electronics, or fish finding graph, will aid in doing. Next, you’ll want to have the right spoon, either a smaller version or a larger version if that’s what the fish are hitting, one that resembles the current size and coloration of baitfish swimming in the lake.
After that, a big key is to use the right equipment to toss these lures out. Most anglers like to fish these lures on a big baitcasting rod that is designed to cast the lure out, sweep it up off the bottom, let it fall back down, and fight a chunky bass back to the boat after the strike.
To entice bass into biting, retrieve the flutter spoon in one of three ways – use short hops to move it along the bottom, rip the lure off the bottom through a school of fish to simulate a baitfish trying to flee, or swim it steadily through a group of fish. Get the attention of a bass in any one of these scenarios and all that’s left to do is hang on tight after the big strike!
When bass grow lethargic in the summertime heat and quit biting many of the lures mentioned above, one of fishing’s most famous lures—the soft plastic worm—can often entice a strike.
There are countless variations of the plastic worm, from small finesse worms to medium-sized Senko style lures to big twisting tail giants that measure as long as 10 inches.
In many cases, anglers will resort to a process known as Texas-rigging, carefully placing a specialized worm hook through the bait with the hook point buried into the side of the plastic.
When coupled with either a sliding or pegged bullet-shaped sinker, this set-up allows an angler to toss the plastic worm into heavy cover and vegetation, slowly retrieve the lure back to the boat with an up-and-down motion, and set the hook hard when a bass bites the with a tell-tale thump surging up the line.
From the shadowy recesses around a thick stand of vegetation to the shade of a late afternoon boat dock piling to working the bait along the bottom on an offshore hump, there aren’t very many spots that a bass can resist inhaling a plastic worm.
Even when the heat is rising on a sizzling summertime day!