Last week I covered one of my favorite shallow water patterns for summer bass. This week I want to talk about going deep.
Many anglers have trouble when it comes to finding and catching deep-water bass. If you'll follow these tips closely, I think you'll have success no matter where you fish.
My deep-water pattern starts with the right gear. We're going to be fishing a big plastic worm, and for that I like a St. Croix Legend Tournament series "Spinnerbait Sweeper" rod. Don't get hung up on the name. Just because it's called a spinnerbait rod doesn't mean it isn't a great worm rod, too. It's a 7-foot, medium-heavy action rod that really does a great job with this technique.
My reel is an Ardent XS1000 spooled with Sunline Shooter Fluorocarbon in 12- to 16-pound test, depending on water clarity and the cover I'm fishing. My favorite hook is a 4/0 offset, round bend XPoint and I usually have a 3/8-ounce sinker on the rig. Sometimes I'll go lighter, and I might go as heavy as 3/4 ounce if I want a faster fall to create a reaction bite. Tungsten sinkers are nice and offer great feel, but there's nothing wrong with lead, especially in the lighter weights.
My favorite plastic worm for this technique is a 10-inch Strike King Thumper in plum, junebug or blue fleck. Plum is my favorite all-around color, but I like junebug if it's dark or overcast and blue fleck if it's bright and clear.
The 10-inch Thumper (it also comes in a 7-inch version) works in other seasons, too, but it's especially strong during the dog days. Plus, it catches all sizes of bass — from 12 inchers to lunkers.
What makes this pattern so strong in the summer is that bass are schooled on deep structure. When you find one, you've usually found a bunch, and that creates competition for forage and your lure, which is always good.
The most productive depth at this time of year seems to be between 10 and 30 feet deep. I look for what I call the "activity zone" by watching my electronics as I drive around the lake. I'm looking for concentrations of bass or baitfish. They might be in 15 feet or they could be in 25 feet, but wherever that activity zone is, that's where I concentrate. I look for places where structure — points, humps, channels — intersects the zone.
Once I've found structure within the zone, it's time to start fishing. I like to make long casts past the structure — into shallower water — and fish the big worm all the way back and into deeper water. The reason I do this is to cover lots of water and zero-in on the level the fish are holding and feeding.
When it comes to working the bait, I'm very thorough, dragging it slowly along so I can learn more about the bottom. I want to feel what's different down there. When my bait meets a stump, some grass, a shellbed or anything different, I immediately slow down and shake it or try to give it some action without pulling it away from that spot. That's the time when you're most likely to get a strike.
As with most good bass patterns, this one has some details that make it much more productive. Here are a few little things that can make a big difference:
See Part 1: Shallow »
If you'll try my summertime one-two punch on your favorite bass waters, I can't guarantee a knockout, but you'll definitely catch some fish. These patterns work from coast to coast and border to border.