Summer fishing is what most people think about when they think of the sport but in reality, it’s one of the most difficult times to catch a lot of fish because their habits and activity change. You need to change your strategy if you plan to catch anything worthwhile and these 8 summer fishing tips should help you do it!
1. Shallow Early
While most fish do thrive in warm environments, when it’s really hot most of them will head for deeper water to find cooler temperatures. I’m talking when the water starts to reach an internal temp of 70+. If you’re hitting the water around dawn or in the early morning, you can stay in the shallows and drop your lure into dense cover.
At this time I like tossing a topwater frog or soft plastic worm and work it very slowly. The fish are adjusting to the temperatures of the day and planning their route to deeper water.
2. Deep Late
As the day goes on you need to adjust your strategy completely. Once late morning and afternoon roll around you’ll want to head deeper and size up your presentation with lures such as crankbaits and swimbaits.
You want to go deeper into the column because the fish are starting to seek cooler temperatures and escape from the hot sun that is pounding the surface. They’re also not so prone to cover and structure at this time either so all the bass anglers out there can throw that out the window too.
3. Increase the Weight
One of the biggest things that a lot of anglers have a hard time understanding is why they only seem to catch one pound bass or smaller when it’s hot out. This is something that happens to me all the time whether I’m fishing the smallest pond in town or the large reservoir. This occurs because the larger fish head deeper into the water while the smaller ones crowd the area.
They’re not affected by the warm water as much as the larger, older fish so they can remain closer to the surface. If you’re out there with light poles, finesse techniques and super small lures, you’re going to end up with small fish. Instead, you want to size up your lures a lot to heavy weight plastics and cranks.
This will get you past all the dinkers that want to soak up your day and it will attract the fish you want. If you’re fishing the salt, just be prepared for a fight though. If you’re ever jammed the butt of your rod into your leg trying to bring in a large redfish or striped bass, you know what I’m talking about. The Cush-It helps cushion your rod butt to prevent bruises and soreness after a long day of fishing.
4. Topwaters are Tempermental
Since the surface temperature of the water is so warm, topwater lures like frogs and spinnerbaits can be temperamental. I find that there is always a time for spinners and I think they work best when the water is warm but cloud cover is heavy. Since the sun isn’t beating down on the surface, it doesn’t’ deter the fish too much from coming to the surface so you can still toss topwaters into dense cover near the shallow and on the surface near the deeper portions of the lake as well.
5. Fish Where the River Meets
This is something I preach heavily. It doesn’t matter if you have the perfect baits for summer bass and you understand everything about where to fish, you need to think like a fish. You need to understand how temperature, weather, barometric pressure, and fishing pressure impact the fish. Once you know all of these factors, that’s when fishing will start to become much more like a science and you’ll have an easier time catching whatever you want.
Fish look for oxygen in the water because it provides them with energy. When oxygen levels are low in the water, the fish feel lethargic. It’s not a problem, it just means that they won’t eat as much and won’t be aggressive enough to strike your lure.
So, you want to look for places on the water where there is plenty of oxygen. There are two ways to do this. During cool weather, I tell anglers to look for runoff. This is when the rain is running off the surface ground into the water. It brings all types of microorganisms into the water as well as oxygen from the grass, dirt, and water.
During the summer when it’s dry, you might not have as much runoff so you want to look for areas where a river or stream runs into a bigger body of water. If you find this, fish there as much as you can. Chances are, there are fish sitting right beneath the river enjoying the added oxygen and everything that flows down the stream.
6. Bring out the Technology
Now is the time of year when I tell anglers to do whatever they can to get fish in the boat or on the shore. If that means breaking out the fish finders, by all means. Having a high-quality fish finder will really help you pinpoint where the fish are and a lot of them come with chartplotting as well. I recommend this because you can note places and locations where you had a lot of success so you can revisit them later. If you can figure out where the bass are hiding when it’s cool and hot, you’ll have a summer full of successful fishing.
7. Don’t Forget Live Bait
This tip goes hand-in-hand with the previous one because once you locate a honey hole, you’ll want to use live bait for vertical jigging. If you can drop the bait right in on a high concentration of fish, you’re bound to come back with something.
When it comes to choosing a live bait, I always believe in keeping it simple. Go with a standard nightcrawler and try to rig it as natural as possible.
I hear people say all the time, “you need to cover the whole hook so you don’t lose the worm.” That’s terrible advice and I challenge any angler to tell me that they’ve gone through an entire container of worms in one day of fishing. It never happens. Everyones so worried about losing the worm but that’s part of the point, if you lose the worm, it means they’re biting and you just didn’t react or rig it properly. The goal is to rig the worm naturally by poking the hook through the middle of the worm almost like you would for a Texas rig. Let the tail dangle below for a natural presentation. They’ll nibble the tail and eventually strike the whole thing.
8. Look for Cool Pockets
There are cool pockets all over lakes and rivers, you just have to find them. When it’s extremely hot (90+) you need to find these otherwise you’ll have to pack it up come 10am. The best time to find cool pockets is after heavy rain because the water may have opened up a little and you can access places you couldn’t fish before.
In the dead of summer, I like to fish with my kayak because the shallow nature of the vessel allows me to access locations I can’t with a larger boat. Weaseling your way between the weeds and into really shallow pockets is a great way to find out where the fish are hiding on warm mornings.
Summer is the season of fishing and these summer fishing tips should help you get on the water and catch more fish. These tips apply across the board and will help with almost any species including bass, trout, panfish, catfish, and inshore saltwater fish like tarpon and redfish too. Get out there and enjoy the beautiful weather!