Summer’s a great time to fish, but the fishing's vastly different depending on where you are. Here in Georgia it’s hot. Really hot. But this is also the time when the circuits move up north, where the water and air is much cooler. Next up for the Bassmaster Elite Series is the St. Lawrence River and Cayuga Lake in August.
For me, summer means a narrower overall bait choice. Compared to the winter, spring and fall, things in summertime are generally more stable. In fact, I find myself fishing a lot of plastics in the summer.
For this month’s column, I’d like to cover my top baits for July fishing, and they’re different for the South and North. And I’d love to hear what you readers like to fish in summer too, so please comment below.
Top bass baits for the South
I chose three baits as overall the most effective for fishing the South in July.
Yum Mag Finesse Worm: I either rig this on a shaky head or a Neko rig. It’s a 6 1/2-inch worm that’s great for catching offshore fish, whether it’s the Tennessee River or in Texas or anywhere else. It’s just a good all-around bait, and my go-to color is plum.
I like it on the Neko rig because it’s something the fish haven’t seen a lot of lately. It’s a good way to catch fish that are pressured. And it’s very versatile. I can fish it shallow all the way out to deep without changing anything. I can skip it under a boat dock if I come up on one, or I can fish it in 25 feet through a school of fish. I have the Neko on the deck all summer.
I build the Neko rig with a 1/0 Gamakatsu G Finesse hook and two 1/32-ounce nail weights in the nose. I’ll fish it on braid with a Sunline Shooter fluorocarbon leader.
Yum Mighty Worm: This is a 10 1/2-inch straight-tail worm that I like to rig on a big 5/8- or 3/4-ounce shaky head. I stick with plum, and it's strictly for deep fishing on lakes and rivers with big bass – again, the Tennessee River or Texas lakes.
Heddon Super Spook: This is your classic summertime topwater. Day in and day out, I use the bone color most often. It's not a bait I'm probably going to throw all day and catch 30 bass, but I may get one opportunity at a fish that comes up from a deep school and chases a gizzard shad across the top. If you have the Spook ready, you can catch that fish. Otherwise you're just out there throwing your worm or crank, and you won't really have a chance at that fish.
Top bass baits for the North
Yum Warning Shot: First up, you need to have a dropshot bait for smallmouth, and a Yum Warning Shot in green-pumpkin is mine. I nose hook it with a standard No. 2 Gamakatsu G Finesse hook.
Last summer I really caught a lot of fish on it. It's the right size at 3 3/4 inches, and it looks like a goby or whatever the smallies happen to be eating on bottom. It's just perfect, because it's not too small to where it doesn't have the presence to draw interest, but not too big that it cuts down on the number of bites.
Again I like green-pumpkin, and I fish it on braid with a long 7- or 8-pound Sunline Shooter fluorocarbon leader. I'll usually start with a 12- to 15-foot leader, and it'll get shorter throughout the day.
4 inch Yum Dinger: I'll wackymrig this on a dropshot for smallmouth when I'm fishing vertically – dropping straight down. If I'm drifting more or casting and dragging, I'll favor the nose-hooked Warning Shot.
5 inch Yum Dinger: This is my largemouth bait up north. I fish it on a light, 3/16-ounce Texas-rig and use it to punch around the holes in the weeds, or under docks, and the largemouth really like it. Green-pumpkin is again my color choice, but I use a 3/0 Gamakatsu Superline EWG hook and heavy, 16-plus-pound line.
Honestly, I don't fish jigs much anymore, probably because of how well the Dinger works in the grass – as long as the grass isn't too thick.
And yes, my top July baits are mostly plastics, but day in and day out across summer, you're going to catch more fish on plastics. There are times where you might wreck them on a jerkbait, or burning a spinnerbait, but plastics are going to be a much more consistent bet.