Tips for Bass Fishing the Dog Days of Summer

Last updated on August 22nd, 2022

angler catches summer bass on plastic lure

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With the “dog days of summer” here, and the mercury creeping into unbearable territory, the bass throughout much of the country tend to come down with a bad case of lockjaw.  No doubt about it, the months of July and August are challenging for bass fishermen.

You can spend hours upon frustrating hours trying to get the fish to bite without much success. However, I’m here to tell you that it isn’t impossible to beat the heat and catch bass, regardless of how bad things look.

Catching bass when the temperature becomes inhospitable requires a change of strategy. With that said, and to help you catch fish during some of the hardest times of the year to cast a line, I want to share some of my favorite tips for summer bass fishing.

Read on and learn how you can keeping catching bass all summer long despite the seasonal swelter.

How to Fish for Bass During the Dog Days of Summer

The first thing I do when beginning to fish a pond during these blazing hot days is tie a soft plastic crawdad onto a wide gap hook, without a weight. Once I locate an algae mat or stump, I cast as far past it as I can and begin to retrieve the bait along the surface at a medium-fast rate. The claws of the crawdad tickle the surface, enticing fish to strike violently.

Even if they miss, this allows you to identify where the fish are holding, so that you can target it in a different manner if need be. The same thing can be done with lizards, soft plastic or hollow bodied frogs, and even beaver-style baits. You can vary the rate of retrieve up or down, as long as you create a decent enough disturbance and commotion on top of the water.

If this doesn’t get some action, it normally means the bass are holding deep. This presents a problem, obviously, for a shore-based angler. Without the aid of a fish finder, it can often leave you confused and casting blindly, hoping to trigger a strike.

My preferred method for calling these fish into action is a weightless wacky-rigged senko. Cast it out on a slack line and allow it to shimmy its way down the bottom. Once it hits the bottom, pause for a few seconds, and begin to pop your line very lightly, reeling in the slack only when absolutely necessary.

This allowed the bait to wriggle and writhe as though it were dying, mimicking an easy meal for lunkers. If that tactic doesn’t work, repeat the same motions with a finesse or arkie-style jig, adding a sharper hop intermittently.

Should the previously mentioned methods prove fruitless, you can tie on a Rat-L-Trap in shad or bluegill based colors, and burn it along the shoreline. As often as possible, try to bump it into cover, and pause for a moment before resuming your retrieve.

This action resembles a baitfish being stunned upon impact, something bass identify as a quick snack with minimum effort. You can also use the crankbait as a searching tool, casting in a fan motion and covering water quickly to locate where potential bass are hiding.

 Finally, if all else fails, experiment. Fishing is built upon the concept of tinkering and modifying existing baits and methods. Post-spawn bass are sluggish and meek, but still require food. Don’t be afraid to spend a couple of hours digging through your tackle and tying on a new lure every 10 minutes, as the bass tend to be very specific about what they want to eat.

I’ve found that on the hottest of days, they often tend to hit baits I’d long given up on and buried deep in my tackle bag. Be patient and creative, and eventually you’ll be able to conquer the summer heat blues.

10 Proven Fishing Tips for Bass in Summer

angler fishes for bass in the summer heat

Here is a practical list of 10 tips for catching summer bass that will have you reeling them in despite the heat. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced fisherman, these proven tips will help you catch more fish!

1.     Fish Early Morning or Late Afternoon/Dusk

The early bird gets the worm, and in this case, the fish. Fishing early in the morning before the sun gets too high is a great time to catch bass. The fish usually bite during this time, and there is less boat traffic on the water.

Late in the afternoon as the sun begins to go down and water temperatures cool is also a great time to fish. The bass become more active, feeding near the surface and in the shallows.

2.     Choose The Right Location

Paying attention to location can be as profitable in bass fishing as it is in the real estate game. Bass love structure in the water, be it a fallen tree or areas with lots of vegetation. They also like to stay near the bottom of the lake or pond when it’s hot.

So, when choosing a spot to fish, look for an area with lots of aquatic plants and deep enough for the bass escaping the summer heat. Just try to avoid places with too much debris or weeds, as this can make it difficult to fish.

3.     Use The Right Tackle

A good choice for your rod is a 6′ 9″ or 7ft medium to medium-heavy power spinning or baitcasting rod with moderate to moderate-fast action. A spinning reel size 2000 or 2500 (20 or 25 with some models) will compliment the rod well. For baitcasting, a reel in the 6.1:1 to 7.1:1 gear ratio range should suffice for most situations.

Braided line is a good choice for fishing around thick vegetation and pulling bass out of heavy cover because of its superior strength over mono (on a diameter to diameter comparison). It’s other advantage is zero stretch which will allow you to better feel the bite and set the hook more firmly. Thirty to 50lb test work well depending where and what you are fishing.

As for hooks, a 1/0 or 2/0 is a good size for bass depending on the type and size of bait/lure.  Finesse presentations, due to their use of lighter lines and lures, naturally call for smaller size hooks.

4.     Try Different Lures

Bass are attracted to shiny objects, so lures that are brightly colored or have metal blades such as spinnerbaits tend to work well. Crankbaits, topwater lures and jigs like the Arkie are all good choices. Be sure to experiment with different colors and sizes until you find something that works for you.

Popular bass lure types and benefits:

  • Topwater lures: This can be an excellent choice for early morning or evening fishing when the bass is feeding near the water’s surface (hollow body frogs, Hula popper, buzzbaits, Whopper Plopper…).
  • Plastic worms/creatures: This versatile bait can be used in various situations (senkos, crawdads, etc…).
  • Spinnerbait: This bait can be deadly when retrieved quickly through the water.
  • Crankbaits: Crankbaits are some of the most successful bass lures of all time. They come in a variety of shapes, color and sizes. These diving lures are great for catching bass at various depths in the water column.

5.     Be Patient

Bass can be elusive, so it is essential to be patient when you are fishing for them. If you don’t get a bite after a few minutes, move to another spot and try again. Don’t give up too quickly, as the bass is worth the wait! Sometimes the fish aren’t biting, no matter what you do. During other times they will hit your lure as soon as it hits the water.

6.     Try Different Techniques

If you’re not having any luck with one method, switch it up and try something different. Sometimes all it takes is a change in lure or bait to make a big difference. Experiment and see what works best in your particular situation. Vary your pauses and rate of retrieve and so on. Some popular techniques include drop-shotting, Carolina rig, Texas rig, and jigging.

7.     Stop Throwing Away Shredded Worms

Bass like to eat worms, so it’s no surprise that many anglers use them as bait. However, many anglers make the mistake of throwing away shredded worms. Bass will still eat these shredded worms, so don’t be afraid to use them! You can purposely shred your worms by running them over a sharp object, or you can wait until they start to fall apart on their own.

8.     Keep Your Hooks Sharp

One of the most important things you can do to catch more bass is to keep your hooks sharp. Dull hooks will not only make it harder to catch fish, but they will also increase the chance of the fish getting away. You can easily sharpen your hooks by using a sharpening stone or file, or you can replace them with new ones.

9.     Keep to the Wind

Bass like to swim with the current, so it’s important to keep facing the wind when fishing. This will help you stay in their path and increase your chances of getting a bite. Plus, the noise of the waves will help mask any noise you make, making it easier for the bass to be lured in.

You might not always be able to keep facing the wind, but it’s something to keep in mind when trying to maximize your chances of success.

10.   Use Seasonal Baits

The bait you use can make a big difference in your success. In the summer, the bass is looking for food that is easy to digest and full of nutrients. Some good choices include crayfish, minnows, and worms. In the spring and fall, they are more interested in larger baitfish when the water is cooler.

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About Dorado

John Pardal, aka Dorado, is the editor as well as an author for Reel Adventure Fishing. He has fished extensively up and down the U.S. Atlantic coast, throughout much of Florida and a bit of the Caribbean. John loves writing about all aspects of sportfishing and is passionate about conservation and promoting sustainable fishing.