How I stay on fish in the summer months

We’re entering the time of year that typically brings the hottest weather. On southern fisheries, bass anglers will have to make the necessary adjustments. Summer officially begins June 20, but it’s already hot across the southern U.S.

To me, summertime always seems a little tougher. Because the fish primarily feed at night and then first thing in the morning, a lot of the day becomes a struggle, so you better catch ‘em early.

Probably the biggest reason it’s harder to get fish to bite is because the water is warmer. The fish become lethargic with these rising temperatures, so you might have to adjust your tactics with reaction baits.

Timing is a really big deal during the summer. For example, on the Arkansas River, getting on the right shellbar at the right time is key. Those fish may be feeding at a certain time of day on certain bars, so you have to keep moving to find the right ones.

It might seem random, but there’s always a reason for when and where the fish do their summertime feeding. It’s often current related, like in the afternoon, when dams start generating more current for hydroelectric power. Wind will also create current, so pay attention to the day’s weather forecast.

Water clarity and access to your intended areas can become a considerable summertime challenge once the recreational boaters and jet skiers show up. This problem is often compounded by the fact that the heat often pushes bass deeper where you’ll have to share the water with people that are not there to fish.

Depending on where you live, summertime might require you to fish deeper than you’re comfortable fishing. In northern Arkansas, we might have to spend the tough midday period fishing brush in 30 feet of water.

Sometimes, you have to finesse those deep fish with a drop shot, but if that’s what it takes to get bit, stepping outside your comfort zone might keep you in the game.

This time of year, I’ll typically start my day by looking for that early morning bite. The fish will feed at night, and they’ll stay around cover the first hour or two, so you might get a couple of key bites on topwater lures.

After that shallow window closes, I’ll fish deep on brush up in the day. One thing to note is they’ll also bite on those brushpiles during the morning hours, so you can also catch them there early.

Some of my best summertime memories came while throwing big crankbaits and magnum spoons over Lake Fork’s deep points, brushpiles, stumps and dropoffs. We use to do that every summer, and you could catch some really big fish that way.

Day to day, my top summertime producers are Magnum shaky head with a straight-tail worm like the Berkley Powerbait MaxScent Hit Worm or a Texas-rigged 10-inch Berkley Powerbait Power Worm. Both options work, but the Texas-rigged big worm is the most versatile for fishing a variety of targets like brushpiles, shellbars and road beds.

Whatever you throw, I think the right mindset for summertime fishing is based on reasonable expectations. You’re just looking for one or two big bites and then you can fill out your limit. It’s not springtime when you’re weeding through them. The bites may be far apart, but the potential for a kicker is always there.