When the summer heat warms trout streams to unsafe temperatures, it’s time to stow the three-weight and start chasing bass on a favorite river, lake, or farm pond!
Many times anglers are left wondering what to do when their favorite trout stream hits 68+ degrees in water temperature and the fish are struggling to hang on. Most know that targeting trout during this time will often lead to their untimely demise, so it’s best to just leave them alone. That doesn’t mean you have to stow the rods away until fall, though! Bass fishing can take center stage during the summer months, and these few tips will help catch more fish and make anglers quickly forget about trout for a while as they enjoy the thrill and excitement of bass on a fly rod.
Focus on Low-Light Periods
Just because they aren’t trout doesn’t mean that bass don’t behave somewhat similarly. The low-light conditions of early morning and late evening tend to produce the most fish and the steadiest action. Bass will use these times to actively feed and patrol the shallows in search of crayfish and schooling baitfish. Depending on how hot the summer gets, mid-day can result in some lethargic fish as they hunker down deep where the water is cooler and there is more structure for them to ambush prey.
Use a Sink Tip Line
While anglers often associate bass fishing with topwater action, true lunkers usually hold down deep near structure. Most conventional floating lines, even when equipped with a sinking leader, can’t get down deep enough to properly fish these areas. In those situations it’s handy to have a sinking line to work those 10-12 foot areas of a lake where bass love to hold. A perch, bluegill, or crappie imitation fished slowly near structure with a sink-tip line can produce some monster bass as well as the odd pike or musky.
Fish Fast Water
For those targeting bass in a river or stream, moving water is another great spot to look for summertime bass. The added oxygen in these locations can school up baitfish and the bass know this, patrolling these areas in search of their next meal. Any bass found here will be fairly active as the oxygen boost and slight drop in water temperature can stimulate their activity as well.
For all the attention given to trout by fly anglers, bass offer a fighting punch unlike any other freshwater fish. During those hot summer months when targeting trout becomes borderline unethical, these few tips can really help turn the doldrums into a bass fishing paradise! July, August, and September can be a time to look forward to rather than dread once bass fishing is experienced and that first smallmouth explodes on a popper being pulled through some lily pads.