While Geoffrey Chaucer actually told of tragically-fated lovers in his famous poem "Troilus and Criseyde," summertime bass fisherman probably hear a familiar sentiment in his verse that spawned the fatalistic phrase: “All good things must come to an end.”
Fact is, while the early postspawn offers opportunity galore where you’re catchin’ the fire out of ‘em on crankbaits football jigs and maybe a hair jig, that deal’s like sand in the hourglass. By midsummer, the offshore structure, from traditional Tennessee River ledges to humps, bars and rockpiles can become increasingly stingy.
When it’s good it’s good, but when the fish aren’t having it, you can be in for one frustrating day — unless you master the adjustments.
Lulls are part of fishing, but across the board, Texas Elite Keith Combs points to fishing pressure as the most common cause of longterm shut downs. Too many boats idling over the schools, ping after electronic ping and a lot of sore lips can give even the hungriest fish a case of lockjaw.
Similarly, Combs finds that even pleasure boat pressure can irritate the offshore fish enough to disrupt a school. Also, Justin Atkins notes that a summer thermocline can bust up the offshore schools and send the fish looking for cozier digs.
“These things will cause some of the fish to want to live in untouched places like the tops of timber, the tops of brush piles, places where they can get out of that thermocline or away from some of that daily fishing pressure,” Atkins said. “Obviously, that’s what creates a community hole — it’s a place that holds a lot of bass.
“Nowadays, electronics are so good, mapping is so good, so many people are fishing; a lot of these large places that hold a lot of bass get found really quickly. That’s why offshore fishing later in the summer gets tougher — fishing pressure and then the changing of the climate they’re living in.”
Combs adds current flow to the list of bite-squelching factors. “I don’t think it’s a big thing if you’ve (only) had a little bit of current here and there, but if you’ve had a consistent flow and it starts to trickle out, those fish will scatter really bad.”
Even without that invigorating current to shake up the dog days doldrums, Combs watches the horizon for building thunderstorms. He won’t mess around with lightning, but the windy cool down right before the bad stuff hits can trigger stagnant fish.
Find 'em and engage 'em
During the slower times, a few bait strategies will improve your chances of connecting with otherwise irritable fish.