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.
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.
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.
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.
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.