GoWild's Summer Bass Fishing Guide | Lures, Tips and Strategies
By: Dylan Hayward
The dog days of summer are approaching quickly, and with the mercury climbing to its annual highest point, you might think that bass fishing is in a lull, right in between the best times of the year to fish. While I will admit that the cooler months provide much more action on the water, the summer months can still be very active if fished the right way.
Catching Bass in the Summer Heat
Just like humans, bass can get exhausted from the heat that the summer months bring. This doesn’t mean that they won’t go out of their way to grab a quick bite, however, you might have to work a little harder for it. The key is to find hot spots in the deeper waters where you can entice the bass with a close range lure. Quality over quantity is the name of the game during this time. Focus in on drop offs and brush piles with a bait that drives them crazy, and you’ll begin to think that it’s spring with how many bites you’re getting. If you're new to bass fishing and you'd like some high level information about bass fishing try reading the article "The Bass Fishing Guide For Beginners | Lures, Strategy & Tips".
The cooler months such as April and September offer a little more grace when it comes to lure selection. The laziness of summer bass activity requires a bit more selectiveness for your bait. I have found that most of my summer success has come from using live baits such as minnows or tadpoles. However, if you are limited to artificial lures, soft plastics, crankbaits and topwater poppers can be really effective. For a deep-dive on different bass lure options be sure to checkout "GoWild's Bass Fishing Lures Guide | Lures, Rigging Types & Retrieving".
Catching Bass in Different Water Columns
One of the best times of the year to catch largemouth is on an overcast day during the summer. The bass are going to head to shallower waters and aggressively search for food. This is a great opportunity to tie on a skirted jig and work it along a drop off near heavy vegetation.
Bass can be found at a few feet deep in shady areas essentially throughout the entire summer. Locating a steep drop off and casting on it with a crankbait or jerkbait, where you can adjust the depth of the lure by the type of retrieval, can produce amazing results this time of the year.
It’s widely accepted that during the hot summer months, bass spend most of their time in the cooler water temperatures of the deep columns. While this isn’t always the case, it’s definitely beneficial to seek out deeper waters during the summer, and lure a bass in with a slower lure. I like to use a soft plastic with a texas rig and do a “lift-and-drop” presentation.
The Hottest Bass Fishing Lures to Use in Summer
Every avid angler knows that one of the best lures is a topwater frog. They are virtually snag-proof and can be used year round to attract monster bass. They work best in heavy cover and bodies of water with lily pads, however they are still effective in open water as well.
Buzzbait is another very popular topwater lure that has won countless bass tournaments all around the country. The blade on these lures creates a buzzing vibration throughout the water that bass just can’t resist. Combined with a skirted plastic trailed through heavy cover, and it’s easy to see why these are favored by many anglers.
Best Soft Plastics
A 3 ¼ inch swimbait is hard to beat when discussing summer soft plastics. The design of this lure gives it an attractive tail paddle motion as well as a body roll that is very enticing to heavy largemouth.
The versatility of a craw makes it an extremely desirable soft plastic for summer bass. It can be used as a jig trailer or with a texas rig to create a very lifelike motion that will fool any bass. It can also be extremely effective as a topwater lure as well.
The Googan Squad Banger is one of my favorite crankbaits to use during the summer. It features a square bill which allows for it to deflect off of heavy cover without getting snagged. This can replace a jig set up, as it maneuvers between rocks and limbs, really catching the attention of any bass in the area.
Rapala Jointed 2” Shallow Shad offers a shallow diving lip for those smaller depths where you can spot a group of bass. The jointed feature creates a rattling sound to attract nearby fish while also having a suspended action to it. This is a classic lure that works very well in the summer.
Best Rod & Reel Combos for Summer Bass
Sick Stick makes a great baitcasting rod and reel setup that is relatively inexpensive and performs very well on most of my bass outings. One of the reasons I like this option is because I find it best to use a rod and reel that were designed to be used together. Not that there's anything wrong with mixing and matching rod and reels, but there seems to be less congruence there. It’s a fast action rod, 7’2” length that provides superior accuracy and casting distance than anything else on the market in this price range.
When you think about the best spincasting rod and reels, it’s essentially impossible for Zebco not to be the first brand that pops into your head. They were the pioneers of spincasters and have been making quality models for the better part of a century. The Zebco Omega Pro combo is the gold standard for spincasters. It’s offered in multiple sizes but I prefer the 6’6” model that is constructed with IM7 graphite. The reel is made out of highly durable metal with Zebco’s famous anti-reverse clutch.
The Ugly Stik GX2 is another phenomenal spincast rod and reel combo. I use this in a 6’ length to get in tighter areas where having a more compact rod is crucial. This rod is constructed out of graphite and fiberglass making it extremely light but also very durable. Plus, it’s hard to beat Ugly Stik’s 7 year warranty.