Ross Barnett’s hot-weather bass

Fishing on drop-offs at the ledges and in Ross Barnett’s shallow water, you may not catch any monsters, but you should catch plenty of 11/2- to 2-pound bass.
Fishing on drop-offs at the ledges and in Ross Barnett’s shallow water, you may not catch any monsters, but you should catch plenty of 11/2- to 2-pound bass.

Fish ledges, humps and lily pads for summer action.

August is a tough month to catch bass, no matter where you decide to fish. One of the reasons I like to fish Ross Barnett this month is because it’s a shallow lake with lots of vegetation. You can mix up your fishing and catch good numbers of bass. If you find one very productive lily pad patch, you may catch one or two nice bass. 

In shallow lakes in August, vegetation provides shade, cover, oxygen and an abundance of baitfish for bass, which will be feeding on bluegills, shad and crayfish. 

Ledges and humps 

Ross Barnett features numbers of ledges with stumps and drop-offs. You may have your boat sitting in 8 to 10 feet of water and be casting into 2 to 3 feet of water. I like to aggravate these bass into biting, although I may get hung up. 

I’ll start off casting a Mann’s Grey Ghost 15+ crankbait and follow that bait up with a C4 Squarebill crankbait on a 7-foot-6, medium-action rod with a 6.4:1 Bruin reel spooled with 20-pound White Peacock fluorocarbon. I like to start with the 15+ because the big lip on that lure helps keep me from getting hung when coming through that shallow water and the stumps on the edge of the drop-off. 

Mann’s C4 Squarebill

To fish the 15+ successfully in shallow water, reel it fairly slowly. Once the crankbait hits a stump, it usually will kick off the stump and not get hung. 

When there are stumps in 2 to 3 feet of water, I’ll cast the C4 squarebill with a purple back and pearl sides. It will only dive 4 to 5 feet on the same rod, reel and line. When I’m casting into 3 feet of water, those stumps will top out at about 11/2 to 2 feet. By using the C4 Squarebill and reeling it faster than the 15+, I can still get this crankbait to swim over the tops of the stumps or just on their edges and not get hung as often. 

These ledges and vegetation are present on both the eastern and the western sides of Ross Barnett. Some of these ledges may be 70 yards or more long before you’ll hit a sweet spot where the stumps are the thickest, or you’ll discover one isolated stump that produces a good number of bass. 

You also can pinpoint some sunken roadbeds on the eastern side of the lake that provide good bass fishing. The eastern side has more humps covered with stumps than ledges. Once you locate a hump, it may contain numbers of bass. On this side of the lake, you often can catch large numbers of bass from 12 to 15 inches long. You may see some schooling bass on the surface in August. 

Drop-shot and shaky head 

I like to fish Mann’s Jelly Bug in junebug or watermelon red on a drop-shot or as a shaky head rig in the same places where I’ve fished the crankbaits. When I’m fishing it as a drop-shot, I’ll use spinning tackle. I’ll be fishing 15-pound bass braid with a fairly long — 8 to 10 feet — leader of 15-pound fluorocarbon. On the drop-shot rig, I’ll use a 1/4-ounce weight with a hook about 6 inches above. When I’m fishing the shaky head, I like to use a 1/8-ounce jig, if the wind will allow me to fish a head that light. 

Big-bass chances

To catch big bass in August, the frog will be your best bet once the day heats up. I fish two types of frogs: Mann’s Pygmy Frog in white and the black Super Frog. I don’t think the color is a big deal in August. When fishing thick vegetation, I think the bass key in more on movement than on color. I like a heavy action, 7-foot-6 to 8-foot rod with a 7.5:1 reel and 65-pound bass braid. 

Mann’s Super Frog

Ross Barnett features two types of lily pads: the taller ones in shallower water and the thicker but smaller pads of a different color in deeper water — often with their leaves right on the surface.

Bigger bass seem to concentrate in the smaller pads but will be more difficult to reach to cast to them. You must time your strike and be sure the bass has a frog in its mouth. Bass know how to get off a frog as easily as they do taking a frog. If you catch 50% of the bass that strike your frog, you’ll have had a very good day of bassing. I tend to set the hook too quickly, and that’s probably why I miss numbers of bass when fishing the frog. 

You won’t get as many bites frog fishing as you do when you’re fishing the crankbaits, drop-shotting or shaky head fishing. But the bass you do catch will tend to be bigger.

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Paul Elias
About Paul Elias 156 Articles
Paul Elias, of Laurel, has fished 15 Bassmaster Classics with career winnings of over $1 million, including one Bassmaster Classic Championship. Elias also holds the current record for a four-day BASS tournament weigh-in with 132 pounds, 8 ounces, on Falcon Lake in Texas.