Summertime fishing is probably the best time of year to be on the water. Days are long, the weather is nice and stable and we have more time to spend fishing. Whether it’s summer bass fishing in the sea or freshwater, this is when it’s happening. And yet, many experienced anglers look down on the summer, favoring other seasons. I think that’s a mistake, the late Aaron Martens was once asked about which lake is his favorite? In his typical style, he answered “august”! Any lake in august is the best lake!
The main consideration in summertime fishing is water temperature. Food is abundant and spread out everywhere. Spawn is in the past and not a factor anymore. Every habitat is hospitable to the fish: deep water, open water, shallow water, fish can potentially be everywhere. So really it boils down to water temperatures, not just because fish don’t like water above their comfort range but because dissolved oxygen content depends a lot on temperature: the warmer water has lower oxygen content.
Oxygen can come from several sources. Deeper cooler water can have higher oxygen content. Beware however that some deep water can be very poor in oxygen, it will depend on the lake. Look on your depth finder for signs of life before starting to fish deep. Grass is also a major source of shade and oxygen through photosynthesis. Finally current and water discharge bring a lot of oxygen in the water.
A lot of activity in the summer happens in the shallows. Grass is abundant, overhanging vegetation provides welcome shade to the fish and the angler alike. This means a lot of life, baitfish, yearling feeding on plankton, and crawfish all congregate in shallow water. And so does predator fish. However, they will be much more subject to hourly variations. The night and early morning hours will see peaks of activities. As the sun rises high in the sky, air and water temperatures quickly increase driving fish away. Some will bury themselves in the thickest bushes and grass while others will retreat to deeper water.
Then again, in the evening, many bugs and insects will hatch and life in shallow area will resume. This is the best time to have a topwater lure tied on and enjoy morning and evening surface action. During mid-day hours, depending on your body of water, you can either skip a Texas rigged soft plastic worms under vegetation or move a little deeper. The fish are not going to move very far offshore. They can usually be found nearby just a little deeper.
The other alternative is to leave the bank entirely and focus on deepwater fish. The positive about offshore pattern is that it’s less time-sensitive and will be more stable throughout the day. The most important is to find the right depth. Look at your depth finder and search the depth that has a lot of baitfish activities. Then it’s just a matter of locating cover and structure in that depth range.
Some lakes have more homogenous water due to current or because they are shallower. An important feature is the wind. Basically, one side of the lake will be protected from the wind while the other is exposed. The wind pushes surface water to one side of the lake, and in turn, the wind-protected side will have water pulled from the depth, with low oxygen content brought up to the surface. Always fish ledges or drop-offs on the windy side! A deep crankbait or a drop shot are prime offshore summertime fishing lures.
Summertime fishing all day in oppressive heat can be exhausting and even dangerous. Here are a few tricks to stay cool. The first thing everybody knows is to stay hydrated, and no, beer is not the way to go. A bit of lesser intuitive advice is to stay covered. Wearing small shorts and tank tops, or worse, shirtless is a terrible idea. Better to wear light but long pants and a long sleeve shirt. As for headdress, the best I found is a straw hat or a loose wide brim hat.
The human leg has a very high density of small blood vessels to work as a car radiator and dissipate heat. If you’re too hot, stick your feet in the water down to your knees. You will be able to dump a lot of heat from your body that way. You can also soak your shirt before putting it back on. As a last resort, if possible, take a swim, it will cool you off at the core.
Obviously, you will select your lures based on the body of water and fish species you’re looking for. For shallow water, I like weightless soft baits, topwater lures, and square bill crankbaits. For deep water, I find that deep crankbaits can catch every species, pike, perch, bass or zander very well. Drop shot and metal baits such as spoons and blade baits are prime summertime fishing choices! And again, for all species but pike. They will bite large soft swimbaits all summer long!
Summer is for me the best time out of the whole year to be out on the water. Don’t be discouraged by the naysayers who think it’s not a good time to be fishing! This is the growing season for fish, and it doesn’t happen by fasting does it? This is the moment to set the hook on that big fish you’ve been waiting for all year! I hope you found this post interesting, please consider sharing it with your friends!