Beneath the surface of summer bass

Glen Lau
In summer, moving water and bass go together. If you can find moving water, you’re well on your way to finding and catching bass.

About the authors

Ken Duke

Ken Duke

Ken Duke is the Managing Editor of Fishing Tackle Retailer and the author of two books on bass fishing. Follow him on Twitter @thinkbass.

More than any other season, summer has its good and bad sides. For the good side, summer is the most predictable of all the seasons, and bass patterns are the most stable. On the bad side, bass can become lethargic and difficult to catch at times. The best thing you can do is spend lots of time on the water and tune in to what the fish are doing and, just as importantly, when they’re doing it.

After the spawn, individual bass establish themselves in one of two groups: ambush feeders or schoolers. Ambush feeders are loners and take up residence in a specific place. They’ll stay there until the food supply in the area no longer meets their needs. Then they find a new feeding area. As their name indicates, they ambush their prey and rely on short bursts of speed to catch what they eat. As a result, they’re relatively short and stocky. Schoolers join together with other bass to feed as a group. They move with baitfish schools and tend to be longer and slimmer than ambush feeders.

Current Events

In summer, moving water and bass go together. If you can find moving water, you’re well on your way to finding and catching bass. Any current is helpful, but if the current is constant and reliable, it’s even better. Bass like current in the summer for several reasons. First, it brings food to them. Current also tends to carry more oxygen than water that’s not moving. This helps to keep the fish active.

For 20 years, I had a 5-acre pond behind my house. One summer I decided to conduct an experiment with current. I put an electric pump in the pond and ran a hose out toward the middle. When I turned the pump on, it created an artificial current. I left it on overnight so the fish could get used to it, and then I went out the next morning to do a little fishing. Casting a crankbait out into the current created by the pump, I caught bass after bass. Once I turned to pump off, eliminating the current, the bite fell off dramatically.

If you can’t find (or create) current on your favorite bass water during summer, you might try fishing at night. Especially in clear water, bass are more likely to feed at night than they are during the day. This is especially true of big bass. If you’ve ever wondered what happens to all the big bass once summer comes along, you’ll be interested to know that they shut down almost completely during the day, when most anglers are on the water. They move into the heaviest cover they can find, usually near deep water, and sleep through much of the day.

Yes, I believe bass sleep. On many occasions I’ve seen them resting on or near the bottom with just one gill moving and one pectoral fin holding them in place. When I swam up to them and touched them, they darted off quickly, so I know these bass were not sick or dying. Big bass are a lot like deer in that they typically become nocturnal during hot weather.