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Go Light For Post Spawn Summertime Bass

June 13, 2005

Frankfort, Kentucky - The first real sweat inducing, can't walk across asphalt barefoot, feel like you are on a broiler heat of the year is here. The lines of the horizon grow fuzzy by 9 a.m. as the heat and humidity turn the air into an uncomfortable, steamy sweater that covers everything and makes it hard to breathe.

The bass we chase feel similar summertime doldrums. As surface water temperatures climb above the 80-degree mark, bass fishing during the day can get pretty tough, especially on clearer lakes like Lake Cumberland, Laurel River Lake, Dale Hollow Lake, Herrington Lake and Green River Lake.

On bright muggy days in summer, bass either burrow into deep cover and wait for an easy meal to happen by or they suspend over drop-offs and pick off baitfish dumb enough to swim close to them. They won't chase bait until night time, a light rain shower or a dark, cloudy day gives them an advantage over the baitfish. Low light conditions and unstable weather disorients baitfish and bass take advantage.

Other than those types of days, summer bass are tough bass to catch during the day. They selectively feed on easy prey and don't expend much energy in doing it. The way to entice these wary, neutral bass to strike is to go light.

Use the lightest possible jig or soft plastic bait you can get away with throwing for bass in the summer heat. Sometimes, using no weight at all is the best presentation. Lighter lures fall slower and stay in the strike zone longer and appeal to idle, neutral bass. Lighter lures also look more like natural baitfish because they react to wind currents or deep currents produced by releasing water from a reservoir.

Bass in summer ignore a crankbait that zips quickly by or a 5/8ths ounce jig that rockets to the bottom and sits there like an anchor. There are times these presentations out produce anything, but summer is not one of those times.

Take a 1/16-ounce lead head and shave some of the lead off with a pocket knife to about half its former size. Pair this with a 3-inch grub, a 4-inch worm or a 4-inch lizard and work the edges of weed beds, drop-offs and along the edge of creek channels to appeal to bass that won't strike anything else.

A slow moving lizard that slowly tumbles and glides along while probing the holes, cuts and pockets along the edge of the weed bed will often get inhaled by a large bass lurking deep in a pocket of the weed bed. One flex of their gills is enough to inhale light soft plastic baits. Good colors for this time of year are natural subdued hues such as smoke, natural blue, plain watermelon (no black flakes), motor oil and grape.

The new four-inch soft plastic stick baits like the Senko are excellent for this type of fishing. Rig the Senko type bait weightless on 2/0 or 3/0 wide gap worm hook and toss it pockets in weedbeds or down bluff walls. Targeting bluff walls in an overlooked and deadly summer time technique for catching suspended fish.

Bass in the heat of day will suspend among the shelves, cuts, cracks, pockets and overhangs common to rocky bluffs. A weightless soft plastic bait that shimmies its way down a bluff wall will be picked off by the bass suspended in hides along the bluff. This is an excellent technique for smallmouths in the lower ends of lakes that have them.

Bass also like to suspend in summer away from the bank. They often suspend four to six feet deep over a drop-off that falls from 25 to 40 feet into the old river channel that is 100 feet deep or more. The way to catch these fish is to use your electronics to find bass and baitfish suspended over the channel and count down your lure to get them. This is the technique to try when all else fails.

After you find fish arcs on your electronics or balls of baitfish relating to these channel drops, throw out marker buoys to show the drop-off. Cast a 4-inch straight tailed worm and count down to four and reel in a rhythmic manner. Count "one-thousand, two-thousand" for each turn of the reel to insure a good rhythm on the retrieve. Keep counting down deeper with each cast until you feel pecks and pulls from baby bass and baitfish. Slow down a little more and watch your line intently. A gentle tap followed by line moving left or right, getting suddenly slack or tightening means a bass is on the line.

For more information about summer fishing opportunities, log on to the internet at

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