You’ll often hear that the best time to go fishing is when you can. There’s no doubt that’s true, but it doesn’t tell you when you have the best chance of hitting an aggressive bite. With the heat and harsh sun of summer coming on, hitting that aggressive bite is more complicated than ever.
Based on my experience I’d have to say that from now through early fall it’s probably better to fish from daylight to around 10 or 11 in the morning and then again from about 6 in the evening until dark.
The lower light and somewhat lower temperatures at those times seem to activate the fish a little more than during the middle of the day. But that’s not written in stone. It depends on a lot of other factors besides the time of day.
The biggest one is the weather. Days with intermittent, drizzly rain and heavy cloud cover throw the early morning and late evening thinking out the window. Wind matters, too. It’ll break up the light penetration into the water and will do pretty much the same thing as rain. And cold fronts along with cool day will make a difference.
Something else is that I believe makes a huge difference is the baitfish spawn. We’re at the end of the heavy shad spawn and moving right into the bluegill spawn. Their activity is much heavier under low light conditions. It stands to reason that the bass will be feeding heavier at those same times.
Maybe the biggest thing that we don’t talk enough about, though, is angler comfort. We’re more comfortable out of the sun and heat. We can make more casts, with more accuracy, when we aren’t sweaty and hot. That’s just plain old common horse sense. We most likely make better decisions, too. All that boils down to efficiency.
That efficiency is made easier with less pleasure boat traffic, too. Pleasure boaters like the heat and the sun. They tend to come out during the middle of the day more than in the early morning or during the evening. Bass fishing and a dozen pleasure boats in the same area don’t mix, at least not very well.
One exception to what I’ve said is in lakes and rivers with heavy weed growth and heavy cover. The harsh sun during the middle of the day will concentrate the bass under all of that and make them vulnerable to flipping and pitching techniques. Anglers with the patience and skill to flip and pitch efficiently can sometimes fill their livewells when other anglers struggle.
Summertime doesn’t have to be tough. If you can adjust your schedule to take advantage of the better times to be out there, you can still have some darn good days. But even if you have to fish during the middle of the day, go do it. Remember: A tough day fishing is still better than a good day working or mowing grass.