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Lingering Dog Days of Summer

Leicester loves Bass Fishing, but Hot-Humid Days sends this Black Labrador to cooler shady places.

The months of August into September can be like riding a roller coaster for bass anglers when it comes to chasing their favorite game fish. Cooling nights signal a transitional change, however daytime weather patterns can sky rocket to record-breaking high temperatures. Hazy, hot and humid conditions above the water can become uncomfortable for anglers as well as their canine partners! The same holds true for the Black Bass (Micropterus Salmoide), they too will move towards more comfortable habitat. The solution to these conditions is to seek cooler shady locations.

"The key word here is 'Shade', most anglers only think of visible shoreline shaded areas such as overhanging trees, docks, rafts or even moored boats. These areas certainly qualify as cooler shaded bass habitat, and yes they do indeed hold bass. However, more often than not they usually are in open visible locations. Becoming prime targets for every angler on the water! This doesn't indicate they don't hold bass, nor should you overlook these areas. They just get more pressure; so avoid spending extra time working these areas if they don't produce!

Take for example the background in the above picture. We have down timber along the shoreline that extends out into deeper water, overhanging trees, emergent shallow vegetation plus a dock situated on a contour change with slightly deeper water. Our boat is sitting in 12-15 feet, and the bass I'm holding came off an isolated weed bed away from all these areas in 8-10 feet.

Rewind to our results before the bass in the above picture:

  1. Tree extending into deeper water produced three small bass, all keepers ranging from 12-inches to 14-inches.
  2. Overhanging trees produced one pickerel.
  3. Emergent shallow vegetation two small 10-inch bass, with several small bass swimming with them.
  4. Dock produced no bass, but several bluegill bites on our Z-Man 4.2" Trick ShotZ.

Transitional Changes:

It's imperative anglers take into consideration the changes taking place during this transitional period.

  • Dock Talk, had suggested the bass bite was very slow and some anglers registered zero bass bites for several days.
  • Cooler nights had lowered the average water temperature from the 80-degree plus range down into an average mid 70-degree range.
  • Baitfish was present within just about all of these areas.
  • Large bass have also moved shallower due to the lower air and water temperatures.
  • However, warmer daytime temperatures have caused these larger bass to drop back into a cooler shady comfort zone.
  • Important: Once you have located larger bass continue to work the area Bass travel in groups, usually of the same size during this transitional period.

Note:

Remember the eyes on a bass are on the top of their head direct sunlight will distort their vision. Large bass have larger eyes and are affected by sunlight distortion more so than smaller bass. This is one reason why more often than not largemouth bass are found in thick cover and shaded areas!

Results:
Continuing to work the same isolated weed bed from several angles we were able to entice two more largemouth bass. Notice the two different types of vegetation, this was a key factor to making this weedline productive.... it was deeper and thicker!

Techniques & Baits:

Drop Shot Rigged Z-Man 3.5" & 4.2" Trick ShotZ:
Shimano Stradic C14 Spinning Reel spooled with Seaguar 7.3 lb. Finesse Fluorocarbon, St. Croix 7'1" Medium Fast Legend Tournament Bass Series Spinning Rod, Mustad Drop-Shot Hook, Tungsten Cylinder & Tear Drop weights.
Z-Man Trick ShotZ colors: Green Pumpkin Goby, Bad Shad

Presentation:
The Drop-Shot Rig is much more versatile than most anglers realize. Not only does it excel for vertical sonar techniques, but also it may be pitched to docks, rafts, pockets in lily pads, stumps, downed trees and the list goes on. Dragging and drifting Drop-Shot Rigs is awesome, especially on river systems with strong current. Z-Man Pro Staffer David Walker recently demonstrated this during the BASS Elite Tournament on the St Lawrence River where David finished 4th!

Leicester and I spent 3.5 hours from 8:00 to 11:30 a.m. on the water. We fished humps and deep rock piles throughout the lake. However, the majority of our bass were in the 1.5 to 2.5 pound class. Large Bluegills inhaled the Z-Man Trick ShotZ along with White and Yellow Perch. The deeper water was not producing we went to three shallow areas as within the pictures. Plus, we caught several 2.5 to 3.0 lb. Smallmouths in shallow 5' thick isolated weedbeds, which were loaded with baitfish. From this point we stayed shallow increasing the quality and number of bass we caught.

Weather Conditions:

  • Water Temperature: Mid to upper 70's
  • Water Clarity: Clear 6-8 ' visibility
  • Wind: None
  • Sky: Blue bird sky
  • Air Temperature: Started @ 73-degrees, Ended @ mid 80's

The following is an excellent list to help guide you through this transitional period, while patterning bass as they begin to move shallow, and then drop to deeper depths as the vegetation dies off.

Cooler & Shaded Areas:

  • Lily Pad Fields: Add lily pad fields to the above-mentioned shaded areas and these areas become considerably better. Lily pads laying on the surface reflect the light and heat, darkening and cooling the water temperatures below them. Lily pads usually grow in soft or muddy bottoms thus providing cooler areas for bass and baitfish. Isolated lily pads can be a bass magnet many times there is a sunken stump under the pads this is where you will find bigger bass.
  • Emergent Vegetation: Like the lily pads emergent vegetation forms a canopy providing shade, cooler water, cover and excellent ambush points. Including shelter for baitfish.
  • Submergent Vegetation: These areas will stay greener and healthier longer as the nights continue to get cooler and the days shorter. Look for bass and baitfish to move into this cover as the pads and emergent vegetation die off and turn brown.
  • Deeper Weed Lines: Depending upon the water depth deeper weedlines may stay green and healthy all year long. They also become staging areas for deep-water bass moving shallow during this transitional period!
  • Contour Changes: Define structure, which is any change in the bottom content. Humps, channels, roadbeds, tapering points, drop-offs. These changes provide ambush spots, security and shelter. Find these changes with cover such as rocks and vegetation and you have found the sweet spot!
  • Deeper Water: Light can only penetrate so far into the water. The rule of thumb is, the clearer the water the deeper the light penetration. Introduce movement on the surface and light is refracted sooner. As water depth increases water temperature decreases. Bass will seek out depths that they are comfortable in.

Z-Man Baits of Choice for the above List:

Pay attention to your surrounds wear quality popularized sunglasses (I prefer WileyX) this is the time when out of nowhere a sudden feeding frenzy can explode right in front of you! When the bass stop taking topwater switch to follow-up baits. Being versatile will payoff, and remember where you get one good bite there will be several others!

Remember 'Just Have Fun'
Billy 'Hawkeye' Decoteau

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