By Reed Montgomery
The deeper bass of summer. These are the bass that spend their time, either constantly feeding (both during the day and oftentimes at night) or occasionally, they are resting. Feeding or resting, its always taking place in or near the lake’s deeper waters.
Deep, Summertime Bass are always foraging for food somewhere on your favorite lake, especially when the hotter months of Summer keep them on the move. These deep water bass will be found in and around the baitfish they prey upon, always competing among dozens of other hungry bass as well. Its really simple.
* Find the bait fish and you will find the bass, all summer long.
This daily feeding activity can go on all throughout the hot, summer months, on all of Alabama’s lakes, including the waters of surrounding southern states as well. Right on into the early portion of the Fall season, astute anglers can always find these schools of bass, often numbering in the dozens.
Then, its time for these bass and bait fish to go shallow again. Eating even more. The more energy these bass expend chasing down the day’s next meal, the more they have to eat to keep their metabolism built up.
As the lake’s waters begin to cool, these schools of bass will make their annual Fall migration following schools of prey into the shallows. To feed and fatten up, before heading back to the security of deeper water for the Winter season. When cooling waters send bass and bait fish towards the lake’s shallows, anglers should always keep in mind, many “ lingering bass of late Summer” will still be around the lake’s deeper waters.
Not all bass move at the same time.
“Big Bass of the Summer Season” have various hang-outs they prefer. They become more structure oriented, often due to extreme competition for food with other bass and their ambush traits become even more well honed and so keen with age, they often just sit and wait for food for hours at a time. These big bass have to eat daily, they have to conserve their, “so very needed energy”, for at times they are weak and have very little energy to chase down the day’s next meal.
Most big bass become “loners” the older they get, that is, unless they are hanging around with bass of their same size and not having to compete with the smaller, much faster bass! Often, these very huge schools of hot weather bass can be discovered bunched up, and really competing for food in certain areas of the lake.
This can this can be an isolated spot (like below dams), where prey have been reduced in sizes due to over population of predators. Or its in an area of the lake void of much cover like aquatic weeds, rocks and wood cover. Meaning there are less places for prey to hide and escape the hungry jaws of these ravenous bass and not very much food to go around. Meaning competition.
Smaller, more aggressive bass, forced to live out their lives mingling with these overcrowded schools of bass, often race headstrong to the food source, getting there first and attacking the school of prey in reckless abandon. Bigger, often acclaimed, more lazy bass, lay on the lake’s bottom in wait. Picking off the leftovers, the weak or the injured bait fish, or even quickly scooping up bottom-dwelling prey like crayfish as well.
A little bassin’ knowledge of this seasonal migration can often go a long way in aiding bass anglers in their quest. Which is, catching bass!
To the deep water, summertime angler on a quest for these “big bass of summer” he/she can usually begin their search right along the lake’s, mid-to-lower lake section. This is where, shallow-to-deep water drop-offs, can be found on about any lake, big or small.
But, deep water bass anglers should keep in mind, each man made impoundment is different in many ways and only with some map study, researching the history of the lake and even adding in your own personal knowledge, can help shorten your search on some really big lakes. Some, that can often take a lifetime to learn otherwise!
* Here are just a few places to begin your search for these deep, summertime bass;
Places where deep creek channels border flats and where deep, outside creek channel bends are laden with lots of submerged cover like trees, laying logs, log jams, stumps, brush or visible wood and rock cover. Along old river channel drop-offs, especially deeper outside river bends found along some of the lake’s deepest rock bluffs.
Including many hidden places, many anglers often overlook.
Such as along old, under water bars and humps, submerged islands, ridges, rock piles and even the very ends of long, tapering points, those that drop right into very deep water. Including all along old roadbeds, bordering shallow to deep water, some old roads that feature old house foundations, building foundations and even, old cemetery’s.
The upper and lower ends of any visible island, all along deep, rip-rap rock-lined banks like around bridges, culverts, causeways and the dam area. And always check out any place along any deep drop-off and hidden deep water ledge. Places only you (and your fishing buddy, close friends and relatives), may know about!
Make no second guesses. There is an abundance of deep, summertime bass to be discovered while simply fishing in or near deep water…all summer long.
Applying yourself, knowing where to look, and learning what lures and techniques it takes to fool these bass into accepting your tempting offerings (with good results), is what separates the deep water angler from the shallow water angler. There are certain lures, techniques and equipment that appeal only to fishing for these Big, deep water bass.
Often, there are schools of “Big Bass” that will remain tightly bunched, holding right on the sudden depth change, from shallow to deep water, like in stained water situations or during times of very swift current.
Or these bass may be suspended very near these deep water drop-offs in clearer water clarity, or they can be found out away from any cover or structure. Their daily position in the lake’s waters could be due to a certain amount of current, the available amount of water clarity, the given amount of sunlight on any given day, or the absence or availability of prey, which can change suddenly.
Verses; cloudy days, with no current, and some very clear water situations as well!
Its all a big puzzle.
Summertime bass, those relating to these abrupt depth changes, are always near the security of deeper water, found nearby. Most of these bass are here for a few months of summer. Some bass stay in deeper water, following food such as bream or bait fish schools, often for up to six months or more, right on into the latter portion of the Fall season.
These bass will remain here, in and around the lake’s deeper water, that is, until conditions change in the Fall season. Like when the lake is dropped in the early portion of the Fall season for Winter pool on some of Alabama’s Lakes.
Including variables such as cooling water conditions, current changing each day or water clarity suddenly going from clear to muddy, and these schools of bass may make a quick move while following the roaming bait fish schools, right on into the lake’s shallow water on any given day.
These changes — such as falling water levels or cooling water — will take place from the late summer period on into the early fall period. This is when the lake’s major feeder creeks, the main lake’s water temperatures and the lake’s headwaters (usually situated below some upstream dam) will slowly begin to cool. Then these bass instinctively move shallow.
Traditionally, as the Fall season progresses, these nomadic bass will follow the shad schools into the shallows. They will continue to feed and fatten up, building up their so needed fat reserves, for the upcoming winter months ahead, until the very cold days of winter slows their metabolism down and they begin to eat far less food each day.
* Some bass of summer are also attracted to prey hanging in and around timbered, main lake flats. Places that are shallow, providing cover and a comfort zone that features a sudden drop-off into deeper water nearby. Here, they can search for food and retreat to deep water fast, if they need to, or hide in the lake’s old, wood cover.
* Standing timber, left on many of Alabama’s lakes during impoundment, is an excellent source all summer long, for discovering some big schools of often, unmolested bass. For many anglers find schools of summertime bass and bait fish and they often just never get around to fishing for these undisturbed, timber laden fish!
The numerous types of bait fish that come their way on a daily basis and meals such as crayfish often found scrounging the lake’s bottom, gives these bass of summer no reason to leave the security of their deep water sanctuary in the trees.
Places to Begin Your Search For Big, Deep Water Summertime Bass
There are some big bass, living out their lives in deep, summertime hang outs that can be found throughout any Alabama lake, simply by just searching along old river channel drop-offs.
Some of these shallow-to-deep water hidden spots are often far from the lake’s shoreline.
They can be easily discovered with any depth finder and can be found on the mid-to-lower lake year round. This is where clear water is more evident and summer time bass traditionally gather in select locations.
There are many hidden places for targeting deep, summertime bass. They exist all throughout all of Alabama’s Lake’s in some places many anglers fail to discover;
Like submerged islands, underwater rock piles, hidden underwater humps and ridges, around mid-to- lower lake high spots and other irregular bottom features.
Some bass may even be buried in deep holes or found in deep depressions (such as old ponds, ditches, inundated creeks and streams and lakes). And at times these are Big Bass!
A good map of the lake will help remedy any doubts about what’s down there.
- Maps are great tools for aiding anglers in deciphering a particular deep water situation. They are a must when angling deep water for these summertime bass. So are marker buoys, plug knockers, and GPS units to help you in marking these places and then later being able to return to, usually in the near future!
These bass — those that prefer the security and comfort of deeper water nearby — are not always limited to spending their summer’s far from the lake’s shoreline. Neither should the anglers that pursue them. Some deep bass are found right along the lake’s shoreline.
Main lake points and deep creek points, around islands, along rocky bluff-type banks or along first and secondary ledges leading into deeper water. Even obvious looking banks, like those featuring scattered rocks or boulders, or man made rip-rap rocks lining the shoreline, around block seawalls and bridges can all be excellent, “deep water haunts” for anglers finding these deeper bass this summer and easily returning on future trips!
These can be good spots all summer long, places other anglers often overlook. Where discovering some hidden schools of big bass, all your own, may be possible!
Bridge pilings, standing timber and even along man made piers and boat houses. These are just a few of the places lining the lake’s shoreline, good places to begin your search for targeting some great summertime, big bass hang-outs for the next few months.
* Like any fishing trip, preparation is still the key to success!
KEEPING YOUR COOL
By the mid-to-late summer months of July and August and even on into the month of September, its as hot as it gets. These are about sixty of the year’s hottest days and this almost unbearable hot, summer weather…can actually kill, if your not prepared!
* Anglers attempting to target these late summer bass must always be prepared for the worst. Always let loved ones at home know where you are launching the boat and when to expect you home. Bring a cell phone, in case of an emergency.
Midday heat in the upper nineties is common in Alabama during the late summer / early fall period. Then there are those sweltering, hot summer days exceeding one hundred degrees, when anglers should take extra precautions. Or stay home.
These are very necessary precautions and they are absolutely imperative for anglers to avoid summer heat stroke and to even hope for any degree of success, when your fishing deep water during the daylight hours this summer season. You can’t fish if your sick from the hot, summer sun!
* Prolonged exposure to the sun’s rays can cause skin cancer or help create permanent skin damage. Even stroke or heart attacks are possible in extreme heat.
Sunscreen is a must. So is replenishing your sweated out body with plenty of water. Caffeine or sugar-related drinks should be avoided.
Eating plenty of fruit will help supply your body with some quick relief from the summer heat. Often this nourishment can provide an extra amount of fluids.
Avoid consuming alcohol and taking prescription drugs while in the sun. Some drugs can even increase your chances of getting sunburned…even when sunscreen has been applied beforehand! Always drink plenty of water and have towels on hand, or soaking in the cooler, for cooling down fast.
Take plenty of breaks, perhaps in a shaded area not far from where you are fishing. This does wonders at midday, in helping you cool down. Or you can fish early mornings and late evenings avoiding the midday heat. Any other ways to help cool you down?
How about a jump into the lake! Immersing yourself in the lake several times during the day, can help cool you down tremendously. Always wear shorts or have a change of clothes handy. Make sure there are life jackets for each person and a throw cushion.
* Always remember to re-apply sunscreen after a dip in the lake! Towels help too!
Having two small hand towels on board (means a set for each angler), that can help too! Cool down these small hand towels, by placing them on ice in the cooler, having one around your neck (or on your head under your hat) at all times. Then you can alternate between the two-three cool towels every 15-30 minutes!
Wearing thin, light colored clothing helps cool you down a lot and it helps you avoid getting sunburned this summer season. Hats and polarized sunglasses are a must.
Or, you can result to tonight fishing!
There are many ways for anglers to fool these deep bass, often found hidden in the lake’s deep, dark depths during the summer season. There are many lures to choose from too!
Not only does it take many different types of lures and various techniques to hope to even have a chance at successfully fooling one of these often, “non-feeding bass” into attacking your lures, but it takes the right equipment to be successful as well.
Having several rod and reel combos armed with various strengths of fishing line (and all kinds of lures ready to be fished from top to bottom), requires plenty of preparation beforehand. Sharp hooks and a good, long-handled net are must-have items too!
Lures are Tools
When you have a job to do you can’t get it done without the use of the right tools. Think of each lure you plan to use as a tool and then attach that lure, to the right line, rigged on the right rod. Then learn to use each outfit properly.
Fishing deep water on a daily basis will require the use of a least a half dozen rods. Anglers need to acquire several rods that will range in lengths of 6 feet up to lengths of 7 ½ feet…or even longer. Ten to twelve rods, already pre-rigged, are suggested.
Each of these rods can be rigged with lures such as big, 10-12 inch long Texas-rigged worms, big lizards or oversized jig combos, mid-to-deep diving crankbaits, small to large size lipless crankbaits or swim baits in various lengths. Plenty of heavy, ½ ounce to 2 ounce single, Colorado blade spinnerbaits will be needed as well. Jigging spoons in light ½ ounce weights to heavy models weighing over an ounce and even a few topwaters!
Not only can your lures be described as tools, but rod and reel combos and fishing line are some very needed tools as well! Tools, when combined properly, that will always help you get the job done. Which is catching fish! Rig several rods with monofilament line, fluorocarbon line and braided line, all in various strengths.
Techniques are as Individual as Each Angler
How you fish each and every lure is up to you. Some anglers are content with just one technique or two for catching these deep water bass during the summer. Other more avid anglers will experiment.
For example; What if two avid anglers are fishing 6 inch worms along a shallow main lake flat and successfully catching bass in the 1-3 pound range. A boat nearby is slowly drifting along fishing right by the same spot as the first boat. But they are fishing along the deeper drop-off.
The anglers on board the second boat are probing their much bigger 12 inch worms further out on the deep water drop-off nearby, setting the hook on 5 pound bass almost every cast.
Which boat would you rather be in?
Throwing big, deep diving crankbaits all day on a wimpy, six foot rod will usually result in lost bass and plenty of fatigue, from not properly matching up your lures to the right rod and reel outfits.
You need good, strong rods with plenty of good, hook-setting backbone built right in. Coupled with dependable wide-spooled reels, strong line and sharp hooks. This combo makes everything more in your favor for landing these bass, once you fool them into biting your lures. Make no mistake about it…there are some big bass in all of Alabama’s lakes!
Its hard to get a good hook set, achieve maximum distance when casting your lures and get the hooked bass in the boat, when using the wrong rod and reel outfit. Anglers usually miss the opportunity of even landing these big bass, using anything less suitable.
Experiment and Always Be Versatile
No matter how many deep water spots you have located, marked on a map, or saved on your GPS unit, it’s a sure fire bet that every time you fish each spot you will have to adjust accordingly.
This means experimenting with various lure sizes, all kinds of lure colors, different lure weights, lure actions (both built in action and those actions you impart) lure retrieves and lure depths. Setting up your boat to achieve the right cast to your intended target is very important too.
Even experimenting with various types of fishing line such as monofilament line, fluorocarbon line or braided line is suggested. You should always include consideration for each specific pound test of each line you use. There is a specific situation for every lure you choose to use.
Here are a few examples;
Lures Fished on Bottom – Lures that sink to the bottom of the lake can be many choices. Big Texas-rigged or Carolina-rigged worms or lizards on heavy tackle outfits, or small worms, Senkos or shad imitations fished on light tackle outfits.
You may need small jig combos or big, oversized, more gaudy type jig combos. Both small and large sized crayfish imitations, small and large tube baits, small or large sized creature baits, small single tailed grubs or oversized twin tailed grubs. Both sizes of these types of lures can be rigged Texas style or on a jig head.
Crankbaits or Lipless Lures – Crankbaits either float or suspend. Lipless lures sink. Crankbaits come in all shapes, sizes and colors. So do lipless lures. They can be huge, meaning more casting distance due to their size and weight.
Big, deep diving crankbaits are very wind resistant and they dive very deep upon retrieve. Especially when utilizing the use of long rods, light line and making very long casts.
* Always keep in mind, big deep diving crankbaits will go deeper with the use of
lighter line and a slow, steady retrieve will allow crankbaits to go their deepest. The same goes for sinking type lipless lures.
Lipless lures come in all sizes, from very small 1/8 ounce light tackle models to much heavier two ounce sizes. They too, are very wind resistant. Lipless lures can be allowed to sink to the lake’s bottom, retrieved in the mid water column or burned real fast just beneath the surface of the water. So can spinnerbaits.
Spinnerbaits – These flashing, vibrating oddities should always be included in your deep water arsenal. Especially having plenty of heavy 1-2 ounce versions, with a single Colorado blade, Willowleaf blade or a combination of both.
Colors can vary on spinnerbaits, its all according to water clarity. But keep in mind, deep water bass see darker colors like black or purple much better.
* Due to line stretch and getting a good hook set, heavy line and long rods are suggested when fishing deep water with heavy, oversized spinnerbaits.
When fishing these deep water, big bass hangouts this summer and early fall season on Alabama’s man made reservoir’s and natural lakes, always consider your boat position on each spot you fish. Where your boat should be sitting, and where you should be making your casts, determines if you successfully catch any fish. Keep that in mind.
Remember to bring plenty of lures, for they do hang up on the lake’s bottom and all the wood cover on our lakes calls for plenty of back ups and a plug knocker or lure retriever. This alone can save anglers lots of money and avoid losing precious lures as well!
Include bringing of plenty of various jig heads or bullet weights and include all sizes of hooks in various types and fishing line in various strengths. Oversized swim baits, multi lure rigs (or Alabama Rigs) and big, jigging spoons should be included in this deep water arsenal.
* A plug knocker (used to retrieve hung lures) is a very necessary item. Considering the cost of today’s lures, it will more than pay for itself, often the first time you use one.
Oh, and always bring your camera. Your gonna need it for taking pictures of all those big bass you catch…when, “Going Deep For Big Bass This Summer Season on all of Alabama’s Lake’s!
Reed Montgomery, Owner of Reeds Guide Service Alabaster (near Birmingham), Alabama Phone (205) 663-1504 Website: www.fishingalabama.com See us and like us on face book too!