When temperatures soar during the hottest time of the year, largemouth bass will seek out “comfort zones” in order to survive during Mississippi’s torrid summers.
Because bass are well adapted to living in water with lower dissolved oxygen than most species, while at the same time as a sunfish being able to deal with higher temperatures, largemouths have a comparatively large comfort zone.
The comfort part of the equation is more about food and cover. If a bass has food to eat and a place to lay in wait for that food, it’s a happy fish. That is one reason standing and submerged wood is such a bass magnet year round, but especially in the summer.
Fishing submerged wood is not as easy as it sounds, especially when there is a lot of wood in a given body of water. Fish will relate to the wood differently during different periods of the day and night, and will not relate to all of the wood the same way, if at all.
To help find a pattern, here are five tips for fishing for bass in timber, of which there is a gracious plenty at Calling Panther Lake:
1. Target wood closest to a drop: Baitfish migrate along channel edges. Bass are more likely to hold in timber closest to these edges to feed on baitfish when they move through. The depth the bass and the bait hold at will be a factor of light penetration, oxygen and any thermocline.
2. Bump the wood: A bass feels hidden even if only his eye is behind a limb or trunk. By keeping your bait in close contact to the wood, you’re assured of putting it in the bass’ strike zone more so than swimming it between trees. The thump of a bait hitting wood also causes a reaction in the fish that elicits strikes.
3. Beef up your line: Rubbing wood with your line means it may fray and cost you a fish when he hits. Heavier abrasion-resistant line will prevent that as well as allow you to get the fish up and away from cover before he can turn and hang you up. Water clarity may dictate how high you can go, but the heavier the cover, the less prevalent line shyness becomes.
4. Target horizontal cover: Most anglers think of standing timber only in vertical terms but bass will relate to limbs and trunks sticking out horizontally because they can lay under the horizontal wood and attack prey from below and behind.
5. Position the boat away from timber: This may seem like a contradiction when talking about staying in contact with standing timber. It’s much easier to hold a piece of wood and vertically jig, but the shadow of the boat and pressure exerted on the wood will telegraph your presence to the fish. Again, think horizontal rather vertical and cast to the vertical trunk and bring the bait as parallel to limbs sticking out as possible.