It doesn’t matter how high the thermometer goes, it’s only too hot to fish in the summer when the fish aren’t biting — or when you forget the water and sunscreen.
Summer officially arrived this week, although the torrid temperatures were already here, but when the fishing action is as hot as the weather, anglers don’t seem to feel the heat nearly as much.
If you got the hankering to go fishing, and you need a “hot” spot to try, consider visiting these proven summer hot spots in July.
1. Mississippi Sound, tripletail: Not only a great way to beat the heat, fishing for tripletails in the Gulf of Mexico is just plain ol’ cool. Since it’s done on the fly at the fastest speed that allows for spotting these fish around floating debris or markers, there’s always a cooling breeze. After spotting one, captains usually pull a few hundred yards away before idling back toward the fish. Tripletails migrate into the shallows in the summer and like to use any surface cover, like crab pot buoys, to hide and ambush shrimp and other forage fish. Pitching a live shrimp fished about a foot under a popping cork without a weight usually gets a strike.
2. Barnett Reservoir, striped bass/crappie: Since trolling with crankbaits is a popular method for catching both striped bass and crappie relating to contour changes (ledges), this is another great way to beat the heat and catch fish. Add in a Bimini top, like on a pontoon boat, and it’s hard to beat what will likely be a mixed bag of fish in the cooler. Bandit 200 and 300 series crankbaits will work, using the 300s on the deep side of the drops and the 200s on the break line. Once a school of stripers is found trolling, it’s easy to mark it with a buoy and stop and work it over with crankbaits. When 7 pounders and up are biting on every cast, you will forget the heat.
3. Pickwick Lake, black bass: All three types of black bass native to the Tennessee River system can be caught in big numbers on the Mississippi waters of Pickwick Lake. Largemouth will relate to any vegetation you can find, and the hydrilla and other grasses vary in their concentrations year to year. Smallmouth bass begin to stack up on the deep ends of gravel shoals and, will join largemouths and spotted bass on shallow humps (15 feet surrounded by 25 plus feet) in the open lake near the river channel. Spotted bass also school under boat docks in bigger marinas with deep water. Remember this: Increased current means more active fish, so the hotter the weather the more the TVA will pull water through the Pickwick Dam turbines — so, the hotter the weather, the better the bite.
4. Sardis and Grenada Lakes, crappie: Once the summer pattern sets in, and it will by July, all the crappie in these two large North Mississippi Corps of Engineers Flood Control reservoirs will move out on the deep ends of the main lake points where they are in perfect position for trolling with crankbaits. A 3-pounder is possible, especially at Grenada.
5. Mississippi River, jugging for catfish: Once the Big Muddy falls to its normal summer level, that’s when the legion of juggers hit the river in search of catfish. Two men can legally fish 50 jugs between them and in the Mississippi River they will stay busy chasing down the hooked-up fish. The pattern of choice is setting up drifts that will carry the array of jugs across the shallow flats with cover on the inside bends of the river. That’s where the blues and channel cats hang out when they are hungry and fish can range from the perfect eating catfish that are between 1 and 2 pounds, all the way up to 100 pounds. No bait beats cut skipjack shad, which can be caught in running water in big numbers on ultralight spinning gear and small jigs.