It’s been miserably hot lately. Water temperatures are around 85 degrees in the Midwest. In the South, they’re pushing 90 degrees, sometimes higher than that. Fishing those temperatures can be a little tough, but it isn’t impossible if you search out the right kind of water.
Doing that is a matter of thinking about oxygen. I’m not a scientist or a fisheries biologist. I have, however, learned a few things over the years. Warm water increases a bass’ metabolism, but the lower oxygen content slows their feeding response. So, instead of worrying about how hot the water is it’s more productive to think about finding water with a higher oxygen content.
Basically, that means you’re looking for three things — shallow submergent weed growth, deep water or current.
When I’m talking about shallow water submergent weeds I’m talking about green growing vegetation and even the kind that is matted up on the surface. You just want to make sure that the grass is green. That grass is great cover, and it makes oxygen. That combo is what’ll draw baitfish, crayfish and predators — bass. I think we all know matted vegetation is perfect for a SPRO frog or a heavy weight with a Missile Baits D Bomb.
This is most common in natural lakes or smaller bodies of water. It’s present in big reservoirs, but it’s not as common or easily found. And another thing: I don’t really think it makes any difference what kind of vegetation is there. Eel grass, hydrilla, milfoil and coontail are all the same for this purpose. Think green. Think cover. Think oxygen.
When you’re in a big reservoir with no grass you might want to look around for some deep water, deeper than normal. Sometimes the deeper water is cooler, and it’ll hold more oxygen. This is a trial and error search, however. Unless you have some sort of scientific instrument that’ll measure saturated oxygen, it’s hard to tell what’s down there until you fish it. I don’t have such an instrument. I fish the water. Think Carolina rigs, deep crankbaits and drop shots.
The third area to look into is anywhere there’s current. The moving water tends to pick up oxygen, and it’s usually a little cooler. You’ll find current in any kind of water. Look around and watch carefully because current can be generated in any number of ways.
The most common current you’ll run into is an inflow of some sort, something like a running creek or a ditch after a heavy rain. Current is also generated when they’re pulling water. If your reservoir’s dam is power generating, now is when you’ll find plenty of it. They’re making tons of electricity. Demand is high.
But, a surprising amount of current can also be created by wind. Don’t neglect to look around for it on a windy day, especially if the wind is steady and coming from one direction.
My own experience illustrates how current affects bass. I once fished a Basspro.com Bassmaster Open down south in September. The air was really hot and so was the water. I found a place back in a creek where the water was running in pretty good. It was the only current I found anywhere. I fished that spot — only a few hundred yards long — all three days. It replenished every day.
I had a top-10 finish from that one small spot way up a creek. All my fish in that event came on a SPRO Little John crankbait in different colors.
Don’t despair just because conditions are brutal. Look around for one or more of those three key areas that can have higher oxygen levels. Find the right spot. You’ll catch ‘em.