Finesse fishing hot weather bass

Hunter Miles made a long cast across a submerged shelf on Pickwick Lake and watched his line peel off the reel until the shaky head jig rested on the bottom. Miles noticed a slight twitch in the line and felt just a bit of pressure on the other end, so he snapped the rod back and drove the hook deep into the jaws of a lunker bass. The bass exploded like a surface-to-air missile and proceeded to wallow on top as Miles fought him back towards the boat. The lunker largemouth finally tired a bit, and the young angler was able to wear him down and land him.

Miles admired the bass and quickly released him to try for another one. “X” marked the spot as he cast to the exact same spot and let the shaky head glide towards the bottom slowly.

“I knew that they were down there, and after I caught that first one, I knew they’d bite, so I got back out there as soon as I could,” Miles said. “Sometimes, it’s important to fish the same spot until they quit biting, so you make sure you work the spot thoroughly.”

“Wham!”

Another bass smashed his lure and bore down towards deep water like a torpedo. Miles slammed the brakes on this one, too, and drove the hook deep as he turned the bass around like a roped calf. Over the next hour or so, Miles caught and released many bass on the submerged shelf and caught bass in the 3 to 4-pound range.

Wacky rigs

Finesse fishing means using many different lure presentations, according to Miles.

“It really depends on where I’m fishing in hot weather,” Miles said.

“I like to fish wacky rigs when the bite is tough,” said Miles. “I’ll fish the wacky rig under docks, in shallow water and around bedding bluegills when they’re spawning and anywhere  I can find shallow water bass. If you can find locate them during the hot summer, you can finesse them into biting a wacky rig.”

Miles likes to skip, pitch and flip a wacky rig under, beside and off the end of docks when the bass are utilizing them for cover and shade from the sun. After he combs under the docks and beside them, he’ll search for submerged brush piles out from the docks as the bass typically hold on any structure in the area also. On more than one occasion, Miles has located quality bass in those submerged brush piles.

“Riot Baits has a Senko, actually two different baits I use for a wacky rig,” Miles said. “One is a Probe, and the other is a Baton. The baton is a thicker Senko bait with three grooves that give it a lot more action.”

“If I’m not getting many bites, I’ll use the Probe, it is basically a trick worm with a little thicker tail on the end, which gives it a little more wobble, and sometimes, that’s all it takes. I can use it on a shaky head, also.

Ned rig

Another hot lure for deep clear water is the Ned rig, which recently burst onto the scene on the professional tournament circuits after much success and critical acclaim.

“I like to use a Z-Man Ned rig and cut a Baton down to about 2 inches,” Miles said. “I like to fish it mostly in clear-water lakes. I’ll fish it on the bottom in places like Pickwick, that have a lot of smooth ledges. We fish it like an open-hook, swimbait jighead, so you can’t really fish it in structure. I like to use green pumpkin and watermelon seed colors.”

Miles has caught some of his biggest bass on the Ned rig, and it’s a killer on Pickwick.

During another trip to Pickwick a while back, Miles located a good school of bass on a bluff and really worked on them.

“They were all up shallow on a bluff, and I cast the Ned rig out and let it fall to the bottom and just moved the bait up a little and didn’t even shake it and they nailed it,” Miles said. “I caught several good smallmouths and a 5-pound largemouth in that one spot.”

Neko rig

“I like to use the Neko rig in deep clear water too,” Miles said. “I’ll use the Riot Baton on a Neko rig too, it’s a 4½-inch bait, which is the same size as a regular Senko, and it’s pointed on both ends and has three grooves down the sides.”

The Neko rig is a relatively new lure rig in the bass-fishing world, and several top pros have had excellent results with it as has Miles.

It’s really a weighted version of a wacky rig with a weight inserted into one end of the soft-plastic bait, giving the rig a unique action as it falls, and it usually stands straight up once it hits the bottom.

“I don’t like to use it in grass, but I use it in brush piles in deep water and sometimes under docks,” Miles said. “I’ll just put a nail in one end of it and just rig it like a wacky rig.”

Smaller, finesse baits don’t just appeal to small bass; they’re often the ticket to catching bragging-sized largemouths during the peak of summer heat.

Drop-shot rigs

Another good hot-weather rig is the drop-shot, though it’s not used as much in lakes with murky water, but it’s been good for Miles on lakes like Lake Ferguson and even in murky water lakes.

“I’ll usually use a trick worm on the drop-shot,” Miles said. “I love to drop it down on them, even in dirty water like around here on lakes like Okatibbee Lake. In the fall, I’ll use a shorter leader under a foot, but probably 12 to 15 inches in the summer.”

“I love fishing Ferguson; the water is usually really clear, and it’s slam-full of cypress trees and barges,” Miles said. “There’s a lot of barges near the mouth of Ferguson, and there’s some sandbars there, too. We located some bass in 15 feet of water, and they were located right beside and under the barges, so we flipped the barges with drop-shot rigs on 12-pound line and really caught them.”

Miles and one of his fishing partners caught several bass from the barges in the 3- to 5-pound range, just plucking them off the barges like ripe tomatoes. Sometimes, you just need to slow down and work an area thoroughly with something different, and that’s just what Miles likes to do when finesse fishing.

“I like to use something different, that the bass in that area haven’t seen much, and if you can locate them and do that, you’ll be successful,” Miles said. “Finding the bass and using a little something different is sometimes the difference between catching a limit of bass in hot weather or going home empty handed, but you can’t be afraid to try something different.”

Finesse tubing

The late Guido Hibdon was a well-known bass angler and guide before he became a tournament sensation on the BASS trail, and he consistently caught bass in high-pressured, deep, gin-clear lakes using tubes. The simple tube bait propelled him to a world championship and helped him establish a career that lasted a lifetime and earned him worldwide respect.

If it’s good enough for Hibdon, I figured it had to work in Mississippi, too, and I found out he wasn’t wrong when he said you could fish it anywhere and catch fish. He also said that it would be around forever, and I’m inclined to believe that’s correct, too.

A wacky rig is often the ticket to coaxing a strike from a lethargic, summer bass.

When the fishing gets tough, I pull out the tubes and fish them two ways. The first is to take a slender, 3- to 4-inch tube rigged Texas-style with an unpegged weight and use it with a light line and spinning tackle. Simply pitch the tube around brush, or vegetation and let it fall on a slack line. It’s important to watch your line at all times, because most of the strikes will occur on the fall.

If the bass don’t strike on the initial descent, sweep your rod slowly back up and let it fall on slack line again. Sometimes, you’ll see the line twitch, or just start moving to the side. When this happens, reel in the slack and jack his jaw. This technique will catch bass when nothing else will.

Another deadly tactic I use is to take a Magnum tube, 41/2 to 6 inches and fish it Texas-rigged with a pegged sinker. I’ll fish it on braid or 25-pound line and target brush tops and laydown trees. Start on the edges of the brush and simply flip or pitch the rig along the outer branches and then work your way deeper until you’ve probed every spot in the top. Let the lure go to the bottom and pick up on it slowly. If it feels mushy or doesn’t move, then set the hook, because the bass has it in the mouth.

If they don’t hit on the initial fall, then jig it up and let it fall again, and many times, they’ll strike it then. If they’re suspended in the brush, they’ll hit it on the fall or when you bring it back up. When the bass are not active, they will hit this combo. I have plucked many 5- to 7-pound bass from brush tops in hot weather with this technique, and it will work time after time, and they will usually strike a tube when they won’t hit a jig.

If you’re looking to have success in August in Mississippi, then try a few of these tried-and-true techniques and you should catch a few bass and maybe a lunker or two also.

About Michael O. Giles 407 Articles
Mike Giles of Meridian has been hunting and fishing Mississippi since 1965. He is an award-winning wildlife photographer, writer, seminar speaker and guide.