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Now that the days are longer than the nights, and the waters around the country are in the low-to-mid 80’s, and the bass’ metabolism are as high as they’ll get all year long, it is time to fish some of those fun reaction baits.

The sun is very intense in the Summer and bass, who have no eyelids to block out the suns rays, will seek shaded cover for ambush, and feed in low-light conditions early in the morning and late in the evening; before  and after the sun rays hit the water. Maybe it’s that shaded side of the lake, or in the grass, or in the deeper waters where the suns rays can’t quite penetrate. Summertime is all about finding these areas and choosing the right reaction bait to entice and catch those aggressive Summer bass.

Early morning is a great time to fish the shallows 5′ to the bank and use a popper style search bait.Popper Bait

The small splashing and the subtle popping noise of the popper simulate small baitfish feeding on bugs on the surface of the water and what bass can turn down such an easy meal.

Nothing is more fun in fishing than seeing a bass blast a topwater bait off the surface. Another good lure in the early morning, along the shallow water, is a walk and spit style lure like a Daiwa TD Pencil. This type of bait you can walk and splash water at the same time.

Bottom line early morning before the suns rays hit the water you have night time feeding bass up shallow trying to catch baitfish that are trapped on the shore where they feel safe and there is some submerged cover, so any style of lure that floats and can move some water whether it be splashing, or side to side movement is going to get a bass’ attention.

My first choice early morning is a popper, I prefer it due to its smaller size, moves slowly, makes a good noise, and stays in the strike zone longer. I will switch after the popper does not get as many hits up shallow and when I feel the bass have moved out a little deeper. I will switch to the TD Pencil and work the lure a little faster and try to cover water to find those roaming bass.

If there is grass along the bank I will toss a popper right along the deep water weed edge and work it fairly fast trying to trick those bass to come out of the weeds and attack. If the popper does not get their attention, I will use a hollow body frog on top of the weeds. If in a boat I will cast to the bank and work it onto the weed mat with some moderate downward pumps of the rod all the way back to the boat. A bit of advice is to keep the boat at least 20-30′ from the deep water edge of the weed mats, so when you work your frog back in towards the boat the bass have a chance to follow it through the weeds until the lure hits open water and they can see it and attack it. I have caught hundreds of bass that have followed the frog and tried to hit it and even push the weeds up a bit and follow the frog until it hits an open pocket, or the weed edge and then blast it, so staying off the weed edge may put more fish in the boat.

Frog Baits

When working a grass mat your going to need a med-heavy rod, a high speed reel and at least 50lb. braid for line. I prefer four colors of frogs, black, brown, green, and white with black being the most productive for me. I believe the darker color provides a better silhouette that helps a bass see it through the dense weeds and track it better. Rule of thumb when frog fishing, when you see your frog get bit count one thousand and one and then set the hook. This will give the bass a chance to compress the hollow body of the frog and expose the hook.

Towards the middle of the day you can find a good amount of fish deeper especially if your fishing a lake that has depths around  100′, or more. Where I live the lakes are deep and the night time cycle pushes plankton to the surface which the shad will feed on in the early morning. Once the sun hits the water the plankton start to sink in the water column and the shad will follow the plankton and so will the bass. The lakes can be as clear as 40′ in the Summer so the plankton and shad will be around this depth.P1012883 - ©MikeLongOutdoors

My lure choice when fishing this scenario is a 1/2 ounce shad patterned spoon on 8-10 lbs monofilament line and 7′ medium action rod. I’ll cast the spoon across creek channels where most of the shad balls are and count down till I believe the spoon is in the zone and then pop the rod hard from the 9:00 to 12:00 position giving about 2-3 seconds between pops until I feel a hook-up. This can be a great way to put numbers of bass in the boat during the middle of the day, but typically not the bigger bass which are most likely structure oriented in ambush mode during the heat of the Summer days.

Towards the end of the day I love to work a larger surface style soft swimbait along the shoreline, fan-casting from shallow to deep. The rod of choice is at least 7’8″  med-heavy action rod. I like a slow gear ratio reel 5.1-1 with 18-20 lbs monofilament line. I like the slow gear ratio so I can keep the swimbait in the strike zone longer.

The Summer banks that have wind blowing on them will be my first choice and any point with wind blowing on it, or across it is always good for a few good bass.Swimbait

I like at least an 8″ bait and will always start with a bass patterned color. A nice steady retrieve with the occasional pop and pause in the cadence is good. Sometimes I’ve found if the wind is light that a faster retrieve is better.  The Eagle style swimbait I use has the fishing line run through the bait and then tie to a size 2 treble hook. This hook rig works great for keeping bass hooked due to the way the hook is in the bass’ mouth and not the entire swimbait that a bass come break surface and use the weight of the bait to shake it free.

There are hundreds of great Summertime reaction lures out on the market today, so lets hear what your favorites are.

Mike Long

Mike Long, is well known for monster bass, like the 20.12 oz largemouth bass taken from Dixon Lake in 2001. That fish put him at number ten on the world record list, but it wasn’t his only large fish. He is among a handful of bass fisherman with hundreds of fish over 10 lbs to his credit.

9 comments on “A Few Summertime Reaction Lures I Like

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Joseph Dial Jr. on June 24, 2013 7:59 am

Your choices are all valid and great choices, however, I would like to add a couple. If one is fortunate enough to catch the
prespawn bass staging at the mouth of a deep cove, You can always jig a silver minnow/with a trailer or strata spoon type
bait and catch a couple nice bass. There is always time to run a 15+ deep craw pattern crankbait across the deep side of a main lake point. With a rattle of course. Smallies cannot lay off this offering. Thanks.

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Mike Long on June 25, 2013 10:01 am

Those baits sound like a lot of fun, I use to toss a silver minnow love the wobble as it falls also good along the surface.

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Chuck Harney on June 24, 2013 9:50 am

I love those poppers! June gloom at Otay around the reeds, my all time favorite summer time California fishing, it also works great in Arkansas.

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Mike Long on June 25, 2013 10:00 am

Yes sir your the one who got me on the popper, an awesome bait and a ton of fun!!

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Patrick on June 24, 2013 1:53 pm

Great article! I didn’t know that people jig for bass like that in summer, i thought that was a winter pattern. Also, why do you start out with an 8 inch bait?

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Mike Long on June 25, 2013 9:54 am

I like the 8″ surface swimbait as a search bait for numbers of Summer bass, it will get the attention of lots of bass and also will get killed by larger bass, but most of the time it is a great tool for searching the shallows for those Summer bass that are hiding in ambush. Hope that helps a bit.

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Marco Caetano on June 24, 2013 3:28 pm

Great article Mike! I’ve always had a hard time catching bigger bass in summer.

I just don’t understand one thing: In a previous article you said you use small swimbaits (3 to 5″) in the summer because big bass eat smaller prey in the summer, but here you say you use 8″ swimbaits…

About bass going to the shadows because they don’t have eyelids: I’m not sure, but I still don’t think that’s the reason they go to the shadows/deeper water. I think it’s more because the temperature is lower in the shadow (bass may get too hot if they get exposed to the sun). Also they get an advange over their prey by staying in the shadows. The primary function of the eyelids is to wet the eyes (this is why we can’t get our eyes open much time without blinking: the eye starts to get dry and it gets unconfortable. We need to blink to wet the eyes). This is why fish don’t have eyelids (even sunfish or pelagic fish that stay in the top even with hot sun). Tadpoles don’t have eyelids because they’re always in the water (their eyes are always wet) but when they get out of the water (frogs and toads) they have eyelids. Whales have eyelids, but that’s because they still retain that characteristic from their terrestrial ancestors. So, when we get exposed to bright light we close the eyelids a bit, but the primary function of the eyelids still is to wet the eyes. Also, I’ve heard someone say bass eyes adjust to different light levels just as our eyes do: for example when we enter a dark room the eyes slowly adjust to the low light. Or when we wake up in a dark room in the morning and go outside. Sometimes we see bass slowly swimming in the sunlight even in the middle of a hot summer day, as if they were enjoying it. I’ve seen that and both Bill Murphy and Dough Hannon talk about that in their books.

Well, either way, it’s no secret we should look for shade or deep water in the middle of a hot bright summer day if we want to find bass.

Keep the great articles coming!

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Mike Long on June 25, 2013 9:52 am

Marco, your dead on there are multiple reasons whey bass use shade and cover throughout the day. As for the swimbaits I really have too many favorites as always right now I’m on a roll on 5″ bass swimbaits in certain areas of the lake, but as I cover water exploring and looking for bass in a fast manor I will use a larger search bait on the surface and hunt. ML

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Marco Caetano on June 25, 2013 3:21 pm

Thanks! That makes sense! Since big lures attract big bass easily from far away it’s a good option to use them when trying to locate bass.

Keep up the great work on the website Mike! You’re really helping a lot of people to know more about big bass and how to catch them. Thanks!

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