Nothing doggy about summer fishing

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Kevin VanDam

Kevin VanDam

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

If you’re an angler who avoids fishing during the dog days of summer, you’re making a mistake.

Sure it’s hot out and the easy bites can be hard to come by, but you can still catch bass and catch ‘em good with power fishing techniques.

This is a time of year when water temperatures are high and so is the bass’ metabolism. They have to eat often, and that’s a huge benefit to anglers who brave hot weather fishing.

Another advantage of dog days fishing is you can narrow your focus. Unlike late spring, when the fish are scattered from the shore to deeper depths, hot summer months put larger concentrations of bass on deep structure. The added beauty of this is that they stay there until cooler water and weather prevails.

Admittedly, there are always bass shallow, and in some lakes they never go deep. However, in most bodies of water, they are at the deepest point of the year and stay in one area longer than during any other season.

How deep they go depends largely on the clarity of the lake and where the vast majority of the bait is located.

Without the presence of shad (or bluegills, emerald shiners or alewives in natural lakes) the bass aren’t likely to be there, either. I rarely fish structure that’s not showing some sign of baitfish on my electronics. An area with bait has potential of holding bass as well.

Electronics are vital to the summertime power fisherman. We like to save time, and modern day electronics have been a big help to us. With my Humminbird Side Imaging, I can stay off the structure and see what’s there and spot groups of bait and even bass without disturbing the spot.

One drawback to this period is that the fish will suspend a lot. We see that often in the natural lakes around my home. The fish roam around feeding on pods of bait.

But those fish can be caught. I will stay on my trolling motor, zigzagging over a deep area near bottom structure looking for baitfish or individual fish on my graph and then hold over the top of them and slide a drop-shot rig with a Strike King Dream Shot to where they are. Again, my electronics enable me to see the fish and lure to make precise presentations.

Some might say that’s not power fishing, but it is because you’re moving around on the trolling motor targeting specific fish and working fast. The key to power fishing is to make the best use of your time.

That’s a great technique on clear natural lakes, but I even used it at Toledo Bend last year. The fish were suspended on a big, deep flat and bottom lures weren’t being productive. So, I picked up the drop-shot, spotted suspended fish and could pick them off individually.

This also can work on river-run reservoirs when they aren’t generating power. Current moving through a system gets the bait moving, puts bass on structure and makes them more aggressive. But when they aren’t generating current, the fish will suspend around the structure and fishing bottom-bouncing baits isn’t very effective.

But when that current is flowing, you can have a field day with a variety of more traditional power fishing lures. Some of my favorites are deep crankbaits, jigging spoons, a swimbait or even a heavy jig or 10-inch worm that I can work rapidly over the bottom.

Now, when the current is flowing, I prefer faster moving baits, but if the action dies down, I’ll go back through an area with slower baits to pick up fish that are a little more timid.

Keep in mind that many power companies predetermine power generating schedules that you can obtain via a phone call and know exactly when they will be pulling water. A lot of lakes generate between the hours of 4 and 7, and with that schedule, you can almost set your watch to when the fish will be biting.

But not everyone can choose when they go fishing. You have to make the most of it when you can. So, put the odds in your favor and pay attention to water conditions and your electronics and you’ll discover there’s nothing doggy about summer fishing!

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