So, why do you think nearly everyone at the beach is sitting under a sun umbrella in July? Highway workers are wearing big brim hats with cooler wraps around their necks. Roofers, well, they are just sweating it off.
Why? Man, it’s hot outside.
Anglers have it tough this time of year, too, but you are always going to see somebody on the lake or around farm ponds early in the day or at dusk. If there ever is going to be a cooler part of the day, that being a relative thing, then early or late is when the fish are likely to bite.
“Bass especially tend to hit baits in the summer when air temps are coolest for the day,” Brandon’s Jeff Martella said. “However, there are a few other tricks to try once water temperatures approach or exceed 70 degrees: that is to fish the shadows, dark spots and cover where the water can be just slightly cooler and the sunshine is not directly blasting these spots.
“These are the places to slide a spinnerbait by at a slow pace to snag a second look from a bass hiding alongside a log or the back side of a stump away from the sun. I also try to find a lily pad thicket, too — but of course, you have to be careful around that kind of thick, tricky cover.”
Get the rush on brush
“Though I really like small lakes and ponds, if I fish a really big water like (Barnett) Reservoir, I still prefer to concentrate on isolated types of cover that offer shadows, and thus cooler water,” Martella said. “I will admit, too, to forgetting the real heat of the day: Fish just don’t seem to bite when the day temps top 85 or 90-plue degrees. I’d rather be at home then under the AC and ceiling fan.
“When approaching these shadowy spots, slip in slow. Cut your main boat motor way out, and then turn off your trolling motor 20 feet away from an area with brush. By all means, don’t bump up against the brush to alert bass you’re coming. They probably can already see the boat coming anyway, so don’t make it worse than it is.”
He is even careful how he works lures around these bassy spots.
“Try this then: Cast alongside the brushy cover, playing the lure into the shadows or on the side of the cover, not where the sun is directly shining on the surface of the water,” Martella said. “It is going to take several casts; I am not in a rush here. I don’t want to cast twice, then buzz off to another spot like a tournament angler if I don’t get a first strike.”
“Play submerged or half-submerged logs the same way. If you can get your boat positioned where you can cast down beside the log long-wise, that is the best approach to take on the shadow side. Run that lure right down the log a foot or 2 out; let that spinner churn some water and make some noise to get the attention of that lethargic lunker.”
Bank side overhangs
“Again, you’re fishing shadows, so don’t forget that bank side tree with large, leafy branches extended out over the water,” Martella said. “That setup casts a long shadow over the bass habitat and produces a cooling effect, at least for a while.”
“It can be tricky casting up under low-hanging branches, but keep trying it. Work the lures closer to the bank, but the water needs some depth — a couple (feet) or so — to hold some bass. If you can, cast beyond the hanging branch; then drag the lure past under the overhang. Make that heavy popper or spinnerbait plop down a ways out from the tree branch, then retrieve it back under the branch keeping in the shadows.”
“Pad fields are thick and obviously blank out nearly all sun penetration from above. This is exactly why lily pads attract bass in the summertime,” Martella said. “I have never tried to discover the water temperatures under lily pads, but it has to be 10 to 20 degrees cooler; I am just guessing on that.
“What I do know, though, is that big bass do love to hide in the pads when it is hot outside.”
Fishing these areas isn’t easy, however.
“Working pads can be work,” Martella said. “You are going to snag a lily pad stem, root or the pad itself. Even if you don’t, which is rare, if you connect with a bass, that fish is going to drag you into the mess as it dives for depth and more cover.
“This is where you are going to have to be aggressive and hope your line holds.”
That means he upgrades his equipment.
“You need a good rod, heavier line and strong shoulders to work lily pads, but the production can sure be worth it,” Martella explained. “It’s hot action, no pun intended.”
July is hot. Fishing usually isn’t. But as they say: Where there is a will, there is a way. Fish early or late, and work the shadows where big bass will be hiding out. Wear that big brim hat, a cooler collar wrap, take plenty of hydration drinks and some sunscreen.