I've heard many an angler bemoan the summer months for fishing in Mississippi. I mean, there is no escaping that the atmospheric conditions usually prevailing this time of year in terms of the ambient temperature, as well as the humidity (which can be the worst of the two comfort factors), keep many fishermen at the house under the air conditioning.

But, of course, that does not mean the fish are not biting.


Cool strategies for hot bass fishing

When I visit state reservoirs, large fishing lakes or even private property ponds during July, the primary strategy for catching bass is pretty evident if there are any boats on the water at all. Go early; go late. Stay out of the main heat of the day from around 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

But that's not the whole story, of course.

"We fish a good bit during the summer months right in the middle of the hottest time of the year," Samuel Lemonis of Madison said. "July is tough on the water because the heat just beats you down.

"As if the air temp wasn't bad enough, on a really clear, calm day the sun's reflection off the water can fry you. Lots of sunscreen and floppy hats get the job done.

"I fish a private lake in Madison County known as 9 Mile Lake. It's 119 acres, so it is big enough to maneuver around in offering some good fishing structure for bass, crappie and bream. We like it all."

"One thing we know for sure is that when the lake water heats up, the bass go deep trying to keep away from the hotter surface temperatures. We found some structure combined with a ditch in the deepest part of the lake. We were able to catch some really nice large bass out of that lake bottom depression on lizard baits. We couldn't catch a bass anywhere but in that deepest part of the lake during July."

Undoubtedly, if bass anglers will work traditional bank and more-shallow structure early in the morning and again the last hours of the day, some bass might hit. Once the sun heats up the surface air, however, the bass seem to dive deep for the cooler water.

Another trick available on some lakes is to cast under boat docks, covers and slips where the water is shaded. Fish tend to seek those areas out, too, trying to escape the warmer open waters. This can also work under bridges and overpasses. I know this is a common practice up on Ross Barnett Reservoir where the Highway 43 bridge crosses over the lake.


Hot-weather bass baits

"I'm really more of a bream-fishing angler myself, but my sons, Logan and Landon, along with my father-in-law and fishing friend Mark Peagler, are trying to teach me the ways of the largemouth bass," Lemonis said. "The biggest bass I ever caught was on a $19.95 Walmart special Shakespeare rod-and-reel rig. So that proves, I guess, you don't have to spend a gold mine to have fishing gear to catch the big ones.

"We have had considerable luck on bass using a pumpkin-colored lizard with a chartreuse tail. Sounds like an odd color combination to attract a largemouth bass, but I say whatever works, works.

"We do switch out baits quite a bit trying new things, and we have also had some success with the black-colored lizards with a blue tail. That tail must flash somewhat to attract attention from the bass, but they do land some fish.

"My sons like to use the deep-diving crankbaits, and they do work well. I just don't like the prospects of getting hung up so often on submerged cover. Sometimes trying to get unhooked is more trouble than it seems worth. Of course, that is all part of the game when it comes to fishing.

"Logan and Landon use a heavy, tough 20-pound-test line on their bass rigs, so when they get hung up, they can muscle the lure out of the cover, if need be. I love to watch them wrestle a big bass out of those deep spots on 9 Mile Lake. It may be hot outside, but diehard fishermen like us will take advantage of any opportunity to wet a line and bait, no matter how hot it is. We just keep lots of beverages on ice."

The heat and humidity of July might not seem like the best time to go fishing for a largemouth bass, but like Sam Lemonis said: Any chance to go fishing is better than not going at all.

My advice is to go early before the sun gets high in the sky or just wait until late afternoon and search out the deepest parts of the body of water where you fish.

That's where the big bass will be hiding out, cooling off.