Bass fishing during the summer can be brutally hot and bass fishermen can experience some very tough days on the water.
However, despite the hot weather, bass can still be caught and anglers have a chance to catch some giant fish during the hottest months of the year.
Today, we’re going to talk about where exactly bass go during the summer and the best ways to catch them.
Where do bass go during the summer?
As spring turns to summer and water temperatures begin to rise, bass start moving from the shallow water out to the deeper areas of a lake. This deeper water is cooler than water up shallow and provides bass with some relief from the heat during the summer months.
Not only do bass congregate in these areas, but baitfish and other forage does as well, providing bass with a food source.
What should anglers look for during the summer?
For the most part, summertime is all about offshore fishing. Anglers who locate bass off the bank typically do much better than the bank beaters during the summer. And this is because most of the fish, especially the big fish, have moved out deep.
Some of the key areas bass move to include ledges, drop-offs, points, offshore brushpiles or other structure, submerged grass, and shell bars. Each of these locations has something different that attracts bass to school up there.
How to find offshore structure
The easiest way for anglers to find these depth changes and offshore cover is with a depth finder.
I use my Garmin electronics to find offshore brushpiles, grass, and ledges. I’ll start by idling around certain areas of a lake until I see something that looks like cover on my graph. My depth finder will show me where the contour lines (depth changes) are.
I’ll usually start idling around near one of those lines in anywhere from 15-25 feet of water, depending on what lake I’m on. Other good areas to idle around in search of brushpiles and other cover include along creek channels, in the mouth of coves, or along dock rows.
Link to Garmin Electronics: https://amzn.to/3ajHBtN
Then I’ll mark it on my graph so I know exactly where it is. I repeat this process until I’ve found several drop-offs or pieces of cover. Then I’ll go back to my waypoints and fish each of them.
Another way to find offshore fish habitat is by using google earth.
Google earth is an especially helpful tool for locating offshore grass such as hydrilla and eel grass. By using satellite on Google earth, it allows you to see a lot of thick vegetation, especially if it is topped out on the surface. Just a few minutes on google earth can safe you a ton of time looking for vegetation once you’re on the water.
While offshore fishing rules during the summer, anglers can still catch fish using other techniques. If I’m not fishing offshore this time of year, I’m likely fishing around an area with shade, such as boat docks or trees overhanging the water. Both of these provide large amounts of shade, which gives fish a place to get out of the harsh sunlight and into cooler water.
Boat docks are my go-to when looking for shade. In the summer, I try to look for the deepest docks I can find, where the water will be cooler. I’ve caught some of my biggest summertime bass under docks, so don’t count them out this time of year.
Current is another thing anglers should look for during the summer. With high water temperatures, fish are looking for anywhere they can cool off and current provides that. Canals, creeks, rivers, and outflows all create current and are reliable places to fish during the summer.
One final technique that I love to use in the summer throwing topwater baits. Early in the morning before the sun gets too high and it gets real hot, I usually start fishing the shoreline with a big topwater lure. This can be a great way to trigger bass that haven’t moved to deeper water yet.
What baits/tackle are best for summertime bass fishing?
When bass fishing during the summer, there are a variety of lures anglers can choose from, depending on what tactic they use.
When fishing offshore, deep diving crankbaits, worms, jigs, and flutter spoons are some of the best options. When fishing around boat docks and other forms of shade, baits that can easily skipped across the water, such as worms, jigs, and chatterbaits, are my go-to.
If fishing around current, shallow crankbaits, chatterbaits, and swimbaits are both great options. Lastly, when topwater fishing around the shoreline of for schooling fish, frogs, ploppers, and walking baits are all excellent lures.
Best Offshore Bass Lures/Tackle
The number one bait for offshore fishing and covering water is a deep diving crankbait. Some of my favorite deep diving crankbaits include the Strike King XD (Xtra Deep) crankbait series. The 5XD, 6XD, 8XD, and 10XD all dive at different depths. The high the number, the deeper the lures will run.
I also like the Rapala DT (dives to) crankbait series. The DT-10, DT-14, DT-16, and DT-20 are all great offshore baits. I vary which bait I used based on how deep I’m fishing.
Each of these crankbait models are great for fishing around brushpiles, ledges, and drop-offs and catch giant offshore bass during the summer. It’s important for anglers to keep their crankbait in contact with the bottom or structure they are fishing. When the bait deflects off the cover, it triggers big bass to strike.
Link to Strike King XD crankbaits: https://amzn.to/2WhFLl9
Link to Rapala DT crankbaits: https://amzn.to/2LFsReB
When crankbait fishing, I prefer a long, 7’6” medium heavy baitcasting rod. I want a rod with a fairly soft tip but with some backbone, so that I can feel the structure with my lure and also get big fish away from structure easily. I like a reel with a slightly slower gear ratio, such as 6:6:1, so that I can keep the lure in the strike zone longer.
I always use fluorocarbon line when using crankbaits and prefer 12-14-pound line when fishing around heavy offshore cover like brushpiles. Some of the best summertime crankbait colors include any type of shad pattern, blue chartreuse, and bluegill.
Link to crankbait rod: https://amzn.to/2WhlZWP
Link to crankbait reel: https://amzn.to/37kIikI
Link to crankbait line: https://amzn.to/37moihD
Another good offshore option is a soft-plastic worm, such as a 10-inch worm, a senko, or a trick worm. I either Carolina rig or Texas rig worms for offshore fishing and rig them up on a 4/0-5/0 offset worm hook. If I’m fishing brushpiles, thick grass, or ledges, I’ll Texas rig the bait. If I’m fishing a shell bar or thinner grass, I’ll Carolina rig the worm.
Some of my favorite worms include the ZOOM ol’Monster, the Yamamoto Senko, and the ZOOM trick worm. I’ll usually Texas rig the ol’Monster for brushpile and ledge fishing and I’ll use the senko and trick worm for Carolina rigging. My favorite worm colors include junebug, plum, and black in murky water, and watermelon or green pumpkin in clear water.
Link to ZOOM ol’Monster: https://amzn.to/34jiJ1v
Link to Yamamoto Senko: https://amzn.to/3gQrAN4
Link to ZOOM trick worm: https://amzn.to/3oVq7YH
When selecting a rod for worm fishing offshore, I like a powerful 7’6” medium heavy baitcasting rod and pair it with a fast reel with an 8:1:1 gear ratio. I prefer throwing a worm on 15-17-pound fluorocarbon line, depending on how heavy the structure I’m fishing is.
Link to worm/jig/spoon rod: https://amzn.to/2IRqmot
Link to worm/jig/spoon reel: https://amzn.to/3afsKR9
Jigs are another great lure for offshore fishing. When anglers are struggling to catch a big fish, they should turn to some type of jig. Jigs are big fish baits and will catch the largest fish in a school when no other lure will. Football jigs one of the best for offshore fishing.
Football jigs are made to be drug along the bottom and keep in contact with structure at all times. They work extremely well around brushpiles, ledges and drop-offs. My favorite offshore jig is the Strike King Tour Grade Football jig and I pair it with a Strike King Rage Craw. I use the same rod and reel setup for jigs that I do for worm fishing. I prefer green pumpkin colors patterns for clear water and black and blue for darker water.
Link to Strike King Tour Grade Football jig: https://amzn.to/3gQQMmF
Link to Strike King Rage Craw: https://amzn.to/3agof8M
Finally, flutter spoons are awesome offshore lures that get overlooked by many anglers. A standard flutter spoon is 5-8 inches in length. These large baits are designed to flutter back and forth through the water column, flashing as they fall, and appearing to bass as injured baitfish.
Spoons are excellent for fishing around ledges, drop-offs, points, and even sparse offshore grass and catch some absolute giant bass. My favorite spoon is the Nichols Lures Lake Fork Flutter Spoon. Silver tends to be the best color pattern for flutter spoons.
I use the same type of rod and reel for worm and jig fishing that I do for fishing a spoon. However, when fishing a spoon, I prefer heavier, 20-pound fluorocarbon line.
Link to Nichols Lures Flutter Spoon: https://amzn.to/3np5xzN
Best Lures/Tackle for Fishing Docks and Shade
If offshore fishing isn’t getting the job done during the summer, I will turn to fishing shade lines along the shoreline or the deepest dock in the lake I’m on.
First, if I can find a line of trees that are overhanding the water or row of bushes that provide shade. If I can’t find any trees or bushes, I then search the lake for docks in deep water. Most of the time, during the summer, bass will hold on the very deepest section of a dock that is furthest out into the lake or to the section that has the most shade.
It’s important for anglers to get their baits far underneath docks and trees into areas where most people can’t reach. This often results in more bites throughout the day.
I typically fish both types of cover with a jig, senko, or trick worm. I really like the Strike King Tour Grade Flippin’ Jig for this scenario because its head is flat and allows for the bait to be easily skipping up under trees and boat docks. A 3/8-½ jig is ideal. A Strike King Rage Craw makes a perfect trailer for this jig.
Link to Strike King Tour Grade Skipping Jig: https://amzn.to/34gDPgO
When skipping a jig under docks and trees, I prefer a shorter 7’ medium heavy baitcasting rod paired to a 6:4:1 reel and spool the reel with 15-pound fluorocarbon. The shorter rod makes it easier to make underhanded skips into tight spaces.
Link to skipping jig rod/reel combo: https://amzn.to/2Ky0gHl
If a jig isn’t working, I turn to a wacky rigged senko or a neko rigged trick worm. These baits bring much more of a finesse approach and will often catch wary bass when a jig will not. I rig these baits on a 2/0 Trokar wacky hook. If I’m neko rigging, I insert a 1/32 oz. nail weight in the head of my bait, which allows it to fall headfirst.
When skipping a worm, I always use a 7’ medium action spinning rod paired to a reel with a 6:2:1 gear ratio. I spool that reel with 20-pound braided line and tie a 12-15-pound fluorocarbon leader to my braid.
Link to spinning rod/reel combo: https://amzn.to/3nB0tZj
Link to braided line: https://amzn.to/3npA68i
Link to fluorocarbon leader: https://amzn.to/3mpBDtP
Link to wacky hooks: https://amzn.to/2KuwBix
Link to nail weights: https://amzn.to/3qUuqp0
Best Baits/Tackle for Fishing Current
Another way anglers can catch bass during the hot summer months is by finding current. Any type of moving water will likely hold fish when temperatures are high. Areas with current have a lot of dissolved oxygen in them and often are a few degrees cooler than the rest of the lake.
One place to begin when looking for current around the mouth of creeks and canals. These areas have good waterflow in the summer because of high water levels. In addition to fish the mouth of creeks and canals, anglers should try fishing further into them as well.
Rivers are another excellent place to look for current. Anglers can almost always find moving water in the river system of a body of water. Bends and curves in a river are key areas to focus on because they will often have the most current. In addition, main lake point and channel swings can have current as well. As water comes around a point, it creates large amounts of water flow, which draws fish to congregate in those areas.
My top three favorite lures for fishing current include shallow running crankbaits, swimbaits and bladed jigs. Each of these lures imitates baitfish being pushed down through the current.
A Strike King KVD 1.5 Square Bill in bluegill or shad pattern is my preferred shallow crankbait. I like to fish this bait parallel to riprap (rocky banks), or around wood cover when current is present.
Link to Strike King KVD 1.5 Square Bill: https://amzn.to/3r3Rlyf
A Z-Man Original Chatterbait is my bladed jig of choice. Green pumpkin, black and blue or white are my preferred colors. I pair my bladed jig with a 3.75-inch Strike King Rage Swimmer as a trailer.
Link to Z-Man Original Chatterbait: https://amzn.to/3aiM0NF
Lastly, I really like a 4.75-inch Strike King Rage Swimmer rigged on a ¼-½ ounce jighead. pro blue red pearl, green gizzard shad, and sexy shad are my two favorites colors for this technique. I often turn to this bait when fish are reluctant to strike a crankbait or chatterbait, as the swimbait is a little more of a finesse approach.
Link to Strike King Rage Swimmer: https://amzn.to/38cUvHk
Link to jigheads: https://amzn.to/3p29QkG
I use the same rod for all three of these moving baits. I like a 7’ medium action baitcasting rod paired with a 6:4:1 reel spooled with 12-15-pound fluorocarbon. Anglers should always throw their bait up current and fish with the moving water, not against it.
Link to rod: https://amzn.to/2ISZ5St
Link to reel: https://amzn.to/3oXifGk
Best Baits/Tackle for Fishing Topwater
Finally, if anglers want to hit the water first thing in the morning or late in the evening during the summer, they have a chance to experience some amazing topwater strikes.
Anglers can fish topwater lures around matted grass, isolated vegetation, laydown trees, boat docks, seawalls, and other shoreline cover.
In addition, anglers should keep an eye out for schooling bass that are busting the surface.
My top four topwater baits include frogs, ploppers, walking baits, and poppers. Each of these lures come into play in certain situations and all catch big bass.
First, I prefer a topwater frog when I’m fishing around super thick vegetation, such as matted hydrilla, milfoil or duckweed. A frog is completely weedless and comes through the thick stuff with ease.
I especially like throwing a frog when fishing ponds during the summer. Because most ponds have lots of grass in them, a frog is a perfect bait to cover water and effectively fish all of that vegetation.
The Booyah Baits Pad Crasher is without a doubt my number on choice for frog fishing. It has the best hookup ratio of any frog I’ve used and is very durable. If fishing a little bit thinner cover, I sometimes go to a Booyah Baits Poppin’ Pad Crasher. Leopard green is my go-to color, but I will use black and yellow frogs as well.
Link to Booyah Baits Pad Crasher: https://amzn.to/2WnXuY8
Link to Booyah Baits Poppin’ Pad Crasher: https://amzn.to/38a8oGr
Another awesome topwater lure, and probably my favorite to throw, is a plopper style bait. It’s a bait that has a propellor on the back that spins when brought across the surface, causing quite a commotion and leaving a nice bubble trial in its path. I love this bait because it allows me to cover so much water and trigger some vicious strikes from giant bass.
My favorite plopper is the River2Sea Whopper Plopper. This bait comes in multiple sizes, ranging from a small 75-millimeter size to a giant 190-millimeter model. I typically use baits that are 90 and 110 millimeters. I’ll vary the size of my lure based on the forage in a certain lake. River2Sea has some interesting names for their Whopper Plopper color patterns. However, loon, monkey butt, and blue blood are my three favorite colored ploppers.
Another very reliable plopper is the Berkley Choppo. This lure has a little bit different sound that the River2Sea Whopper Plopper. I will often turn it if bass aren’t responding to a Whopper Plopper.
Link to River2Sea Whopper Plopper: https://amzn.to/3nq5y6B
Link to Berkley Choppo: https://amzn.to/3oXiKzX
I tend to use the same type of rod for both rods and ploppers. I like a 7’4” heavy action baitcasting rod paired to a 6:4:1 reel. I spool that reel with 50-pound braided line. This is especially important when from fishing because braided line cuts through thick vegetation easily.
Link to frog/plopper rod: https://amzn.to/2KuF0CB
Link to topwater reel: https://amzn.to/38ajA5F
Walking baits are also super reliable lures that can draw some epic strikes. Anglers can cover as much was with walking baits as they can with ploppers, so I will often turn to walking baits when bass want a slower approach. These lures are designed to be “walked” back and forth across the surface. This technique is often referred to as “walking to dog.”
One of the best and most popular walking baits is the Zara Spook and Spook Jr. This is the waling bait I use the most. The Original Spook is a larger bait with three hooks, while the Spook Jr. is a small bait with two hooks. I use both models and vary the size of my bait based on the forage in the area I’m fishing. Baby bass, bone, and shad are my top color patterns for walking baits.
Other good walking baits include the Strike King Sexy Dawg and Sexy Dawg Jr and Berkley Cane Walker.
Link to Zara Spook and Spook Jr: https://amzn.to/3npHgcI
Link to Strike King Sexy Dawg: https://amzn.to/3mrsQro
Link to Strike King Sexy Dawg Jr: https://amzn.to/3gT5kSV
Link to Berkley Cane Walker: https://amzn.to/37nZl5h
Finally, when fish are finicky and are reluctant to strike large more intrusive topwater lures, I like to turn to a smaller profile popper style bait. Poppers have cupped mouths and are designed to pop and spit water when worked across the surface, appearing to bass as an injured baitfish.
One of the most well-known popper style baits is the Rebel Pop-R. I use this bait quite a bit because of its simplicity and effectiveness. Other good poppers include the Yo-Zuri 3DB popper, Strike King Jr. KVD Splash. Bone, shad and baby bass are all excellent color patterns for popper fishing.
Link to Rebel Pop-R: https://amzn.to/3nvLyzm
Link to Yo-Zuri 3DB popper: https://amzn.to/37nblnN
Link to Strike King Jr. KVD Splash: https://amzn.to/3gU7sK1
When using walking baits and poppers, I prefer a 6’8” medium action baitcasting rod paired to the same 6:4:1 reel that I fish frog and ploppers on. However, I spooled this setup with 20-pound braided line instead of heavier 50-pound line. I use braided line with all my topwater baits because braid floats and allows the bait to have a more natural appearance.
Link to walking bait/popper rod: https://amzn.to/3ah69DB
Back to You
Now that I’ve broken down all of the best ways to find and catch big bass during the hottest time of year, it’s time for you to try some of these techniques out for yourself.
Although this may be a lot of information to take in all at once, try one of these tactics each time you hit the local lake, river, or pond this summer. You might be surprised at how many big bass you land using these awesome techniques.
As always, happy fishing and keep your hooks wet!