If I only had four hours to fish during the month of August on a Mississippi lake, I'd fish the lily pads at Ross Barnett. At this time of year, the bass like to get under the pads because they can hide out in the shade, the water is cooler and there's plenty of oxygen.

The best time to fish the pads is in the middle of the day from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. when all the other fishermen have left the lake to beat the heat. The hotter the weather gets and the clearer the sky becomes, the more the bass will concentrate under the pads.

I like to fish the pads that come all the way out to the edge of the river channel on the upper end of the lake, staying close to the river channel, with three different baits - a Mann's Super Frog, a Mann's HardNose Swim Toad and a Mann's HardNose Mosquito Hawk.

Bet on the Super Frog

I'll cast this soft-plastic, frog-type floating lure out into the pads, and give it a twitching action. I'll walk the bait over and through the pads, stopping it occasionally to shake and twitch it. You must constantly vary your retrieve on this type of bait, until the fish tell you what kind of retrieve they prefer on that day.

Often an angler gets frustrated when he fishes a frog around pads because the bass will follow the bait out of the pads and then stop on the edge of the pads and refuse to take the bait or follow it any further.

To solve this problem, I'll swim the frog out to the last lily pad, pull the frog up on top of the pad, let it sit for some time for the bass to watch, hop the frog off the pad and then allow it to sit still until the bass blows up on the bait.

When I'm fishing the pads, I'll use 30-pound-test Stren Super Braid line on a Quantum Tour Edition 1170 PT reel with a 7.0:1 gear ratio to turn the fish and get it coming out of the lily pads once I set the hook. I also fish a 7-foot heavy-action Quantum Tour Edition PT rod for rod power.

Go HardNose

I'll also Texas-rig a Mann's HardNose Swim Toad (a frog with swimming legs that sinks) with a sinker in front of it on the same equipment I use with the Super Frog. I'll hold my rod tip high, swim the Swim Toad over the tops of the pads and then kill the bait to let it fall and trigger a strike.

I like two colors of frogs - white and black - fishing with a white frog on a clear day and a black frog early in the morning, late in the evening and on cloudy days. I always start with the Super Frog to entice a top-water bite, but if the bass refuse to blow up on top, I'll use an underwater frog that will dive down to where the bass will take it.

I'll also swim the Swim Toad through the pads, kill it when it reaches an opening, let it fall down into the pads, bring it back up and swim it again until it comes to another opening where I'll let it fall. Then I'll reel it out to the edge of the pads and kill it once more. If the bass don't take the frog within 3 feet of the surface, I'll reel the bait to the surface again and keep it coming through the pads, following this sequence.

Call in the Hawk

The Mosquito Hawk is a soft-plastic creature bait with wings. When the frogs won't elicit bites, I'll chunk and wind this lure in, around and over the tops of lily pads and then the top of the grass, dropping it into holes and killing it on the edge of the grass. The Mosquito Hawk doesn't make as much noise as the frogs do, and gives the bass a more-subtle presentation. Also, I'll Texas-rig the Mosquito Hawk like I do the Swim Toad to drop it into holes and at the edge of grass.

Punch the mats

If all else fails, I'll flip a 3/4- or a 1-ounce jig or a Mosquito Hawk into the thickest grass or pads I can find. Then I'll shake the lure, pull it up, stop it under the mat and shake it again. My favorite color for this punch-through tactic is black/blue. The bass will grab the lure right when it falls through the mat, hit it on the bottom when you shake it or take it immediately when you shake it underneath the mat.

Crank the ledges

When nothing else works, and I can't get a grass bite with these techniques, I'll start cranking ledges on the main lake with my favorites from the Highway 43 bridge to the Fairley Bridge Landing. I'll look for shallow ledges with their tops under about 8 to 12 feet of water and dropping off about 18 to 20 feet.

I prefer to fish a Mann's 15+ and a Mann's 20+ in either blue back/chartreuse or a shad color like grey ghost with a Quantum 1160 PT reel and a Tour Edition PT Signature Series Paul Elias cranking rod on 10-pound-test Berkley Vanish line.

I'll cast to the shallow water, crank the bait down and then run it off and down the lip of the break, expecting most of my bites to come from the shallow ledge before the crankbait drops over the lip of the break. Since the bass generally will be less than 20 yards up from the break line on the flat, I'll be standing up rather than kneeling and reeling these shallow ledges.

To keep the bass from throwing my crankbait, I'll put Gamakatsu extra-wide-gap treble hooks on it. I keep my rod down in the water and pull the bass sideways so that it can't come straight up and jump.

You can have a productive day of fishing and catch five bass weighing 5 pounds or more in a single day at Ross Barnett Reservoir in August. Since the most-productive flipping and frog bites will occur between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., pack your lunch and plan to eat early or late to fish during the middle of the day.