Another option for beating dog days

About the author

Kevin VanDam

Kevin VanDam

In the world of professional bass fishing, Kevin VanDam is at the pinnacle and arguably the best in the world.

August is typically known as the dog days of summer and most bass anglers would agree with that. Although you can have some spectacular days on the water this month, fishing can get pretty darn tough.

Want a solution? Take a break from the lakes and consider hitting the creeks and streams that provide cooler water and more aggressive bass.

Streams often are low this time of year so all you need is a shallow draft boat or a pair of waders.

Granted, you’re not going to catch many big fish, but this outing is less about the quality of fish and more about the adventure. You can fish from a canoe, johnboat, kayak or do as I did – don a pair of old tennis shoes and shorts and walk the river bottom.

Streams played a major role in the development of my career. I spent a lot of time wading the creeks and rivers around Michigan fishing for smallmouth and even trout.

I learned a lot about how fish position themselves in current and how they set up in shallow water to ambush their food.

Streams don’t have to be large to hold fish, either. Some of my best days have occurred on narrow streams that I could jump across in some places.

I’d pack a small soft-sided tacklebox with a good mix of soft plastics, shallow running crankbaits, a topwater popper and little spinnerbaits.

Some of my favorite soft plastics would be small tube jigs or grubs, a soft jerkbait or a stickworm like the Ocho.

This is also a time to leave the 7-foot rod and heavy line at home. Stream fishing is often done in tight quarters, so a shorter, light action spinning outfit will be more manageable and provide more accurate casts. And since you’re fishing smaller baits and clear water, you’ll need to downscale your line size as well.

I highly recommend a good pair of polarized sunglasses to help you see the bottom and underwater obstructions strewn about it. When wading, move slowly and feel your way along with your feet. Some of the rocks are big or slick and can send you tumbling. Those rocks, as well as sudden depressions, are better seen with a pair of glasses.

A can of bug spray will come in handy, too. Insects, especially mosquitoes, will drive you crazy on a hot muggy day.

I prefer to walk upstream and make casts that bring my lures naturally with the current. The fish are sitting in these spots waiting for that current to carry them potential meals.

More importantly, you have to be stealthy. If you wade or boat downstream, any disturbance in the water will be transmitted into areas holding the bass. By wading upstream, that disturbance falls behind you.

You’ll likely find concentrations of fish in deeper areas when the water is low. I look for them at the head of a deeper pool or where a shallow riffle dumps into an undercut bank on a creek bend or around log jams. The fish prefer to be in areas where the slack water meets the faster current.

I can think of no better way to change up the pace during the summer months. Stream fishing gets you out of the big boat and closer to nature, not to mention that it puts you around more aggressive fish that haven’t been pressured.

 That, in itself, can make it worthwhile and change your attitude about the dog days of summer.

After all, it’s all about the attitude!

Kevin VanDam's column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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