Even in Florida, bass capital of the world the summer season can be a difficult one for anglers in search of big bass. While August and September are the two hottest months of the season it doesn’t mean the fishing has to be any less exciting. Anglers that fish Northern lakes spend the summer chasing their bass as they transition from shallow water spring time areas to summer time deep water ledges and offshore humps. For those anglers summer time techniques such as deep diving crankbaits, jigs, dropshots and slow rolled spinnerbaits will be the lures of choice. For anglers here in Florida there are many more opportunities to catch big bass without the work and best of all, we don’t have to do any chasing!
Locating summertime bass in Florida requires a very open minded approach because there literally are no rules that the bass live by in our lakes. Where they are in each lake will vary based on the habitat of that lake. And because our lakes tend to change from one year to the next what the bass do this summer could be totally different next year. If there is good water quality and bait fish shallow I always start there regardless of the water temperatures. By starting around shallow vegetation anglers have increased lure choices with bass that are positioned to ambush directly from the cover. Fishing around these areas during the peak feeding times also increases your opportunity to catch larger bass.
There are two peak feeding times for bass within each day during the summer months where bass will feed super aggressively. Meaning those bass are in that area and positioned specifically to feed. During these feeding times you can find bigger bass positioning themselves to eat anything that comes into their area. The first peak feeding time is just before sunrise each day and can last as long as two hours into the morning. Bait choices for this time of day should begin with aggressive topwater presentations around vegetation such as buzzbaits, frogs, poppers or tiny torpedo’s. If your particular body of water does not have a high concentration of vegetation then zara spooks, poppers, rattle traps and spinnerbaits are great choices.
Lure presentations during this early morning peak feeding time can be very aggressive but attention should be paid to how the lure enters the water. While big bass will respond to multiple techniques if the lure does not look natural upon entering the water the bass will turn away from your offering. Lure accuracy is also very critical when the bass are in ambush mode. Because Florida lakes contain so much vegetation being able to hit your mark to key in exactly on the strike zone is crucial for success.
An angler very easily could only focus their attention on the best part of the day during the summer months but that would not develop the skills needed to be versatile and capable of catching bass under any situation. While big bass may not be as aggressive later in the morning they generally will still be in the same areas and can be caught by making the right adjustments. To continue catching bass it is important to make adjustments in order to entice bass to continue to feed even though the peak feeding time for them has already passed.
The adjustments an angler can make as the morning progresses would be slowing down current lure presentations, switching to lures that are less aggressive and targeting different strike zones. Less aggressive lures would be Texas rigged worms, Carolina rigs and weightless stick bait type lures. These lures can be presented at a slower pace and also can target different strike zones. While early morning presentations were on edges of weed lines later in the morning bass can be either deeper in the vegetation or lower in the water column of the outer edge. Where the bass will be is dependent on the type of vegetation in that area and where the food source is concentrated the most. For bass that move deeper into the vegetation flipping and pitching techniques work best.
So, what do bass feed on during the summer months? Bass are opportunistic predators that have a varied diet. But during the summer months when water temperatures are above 85 degrees they key in on shad more than any other bait. Shad are abundant in our lakes and are easy prey because they travel in large pods. They also average less than an inch in size making them the perfect size for bass this time of year. Matching the hatch is important when bass are feeding on shad so downsizing lures this time of year can allow angler to continue to get bites. Downsizing lures to match the bait does not necessarily mean anglers are not targeting big bass. There are countless reports of anglers catching the biggest bass of their life using minnows. The Lake Fork record that stands to this day was caught by someone using minnows while targeting bluegills.
Later in the evening is the second peak feeding time for bass which usually happens in the last hour of sunset. During this aggressive feeding time big bass will position themselves again on outer edges of weed lines and will be in full ambush mode. Topwater lures are the absolute best choice for evening time bass as visibility is diminishing making surface lures excellent choices. Because the feeding time for this part of the day is generally shorter keying in on areas that are known to hold big bass is important as well as lure presentation. As the sun starts to set bass switch from a non feeding mode to a very aggressive mode in the flip of a switch. Being in the right place at the right time can mean big bass or no bass.
Steve Boyd is sponsored by Dobynsrods designed by West Coast Legend and recent WON Bass U.S. Open winner Gary Dobyns. Visit www.dobynsrods.com to find out more about the best built rods on the market.