Summer Bass Lures & Techniques
With spring now behind them, bass are on the move and hunting for food to replenish depleted energy stores after the rigors of the spawn. Bass are very active during the early parts of summer, but the bite can slow down as the summer heat starts to intensify. Using the right summer bass lures and tactics however can keep the bite going strong all summer long.
As the summer months approach, air and water temperatures around the country begin to warm. Summer brings the warmest water temps of the year and warmer water generally means more active bass, but only to a point. Bass tend to be the most active in water temperatures between the high 50’s and low 70’s. When water temperatures raise to 80 degrees and above, bass become less active and seek out the comfort of cooler water. Bass don’t care what season it is, or what location they are in so long as the water temperature is favorable.
So choosing the best lures for summer is heavily based on changing water temperature. As the season progresses and water temps change, so too do the best lures and techniques. This is also true for different times of day. Bass are in constant pursuit of the most comfortable water temps in the lake, so knowing where these areas typically are is the key to successful summer bass fishing. Certain lures are better suited for targeting these summer bass hideouts and on this page we’ll discuss them all and how to use them.
Top 5 Summer Bass Lures
For those that are eager to hit the water and want to see some of the best performing summer lures, check out our top five. These five lures will equip you with all you need to catch summer bass. If you have some time however, keep reading this page to learn more on how to keep the summer bite going strong all season.
Zara Spook Jr
LiveTarget Hollow Belly Frog
Strike King Finesse Spinnerbait
These five lures will produce all summer long, but there are going to be days when you need to dig deeper in to your tackle box to entice bites. Choosing the right summer lures and fishing them with the right technique is the winning combination. This page covers summer bass fishing throughout the entire season, including what lures to use, when to use them, and six summer tactics that are extremely effective when the heat is on. We begin with early summer.
Early Summer Bass Fishing
Early summer bass fishing is slightly different than fishing in the actual heart of summer, so it’s important to touch on this a bit. This time of year is when lakes are at their peak for bass fishing, especially for beginners and casual anglers because bass are scattered everywhere and actively feeding.
Early summer water temperatures will hover around the high 60’s to mid 70’s. These are ideal water temperatures for bass so the lake will be at its peak bass fishing potential, but where the bass are actually holding won’t be as predictable as when the summer really kicks in. Some bass will hold to one area all day, while others will travel for miles. That’s why it’s important to cover a lot of water in the early summer months.
Early summer can also bring rain and high water in some areas. When water levels rise after rains, look for recently covered brush and fallen trees where bass may congregate. Docks and retaining walls along the water’s edge are always good cover for bass, but can especially be good when water levels are higher than normal.
Best Early Summer Bass Lures
This time of year is great for lures that can be power fished. Power fishing is bass fishing with fast moving lures. These faster lures allow you to cover a lot of water quickly, and since bass are scattered this time of year you can locate where they are holding more effectively. Here are our top 4 early summer lures:
Crankbaits: More specifically shallow diving crankbaits. You want to be working these along the shorelines in about one to four feet of water. Deflect them off cover, the bottom and other structure.
Spinnerbaits: This is the best time of year for unleashing your arsenal of spinnerbaits. All sizes and blade types will be effective so if you’ve been eager to fish certain ones now is the time. The willow blade is the fastest moving blade so that’s your best bet this time of year.
Buzzbaits: Cast buzzbaits in the shallows, tight to cover like lily pads patches and timber. Run them in open water if there’s cloud cover or in the mornings and afternoons. Make multiple casts because these lures don’t always get a strike on the first cast.
Rubber Worms: Not a power fishing lure by any means but worms are very effective year round. If your targeting a nice piece of cover like a boat dock and not getting bites with fast lures, try casting a worm at it before you change locations.
These four lures are great in early summer conditions, but this is also the best time of year to experiment with new and different lures. Keep on the move and casting different lures, it takes an active angler to keep up with scattered bass.
Mid Summer Bass Fishing
Summer Water TempAs summer progresses, temperatures can elevate to points that keep man and bass alike slow moving and with less energy. Bass are less active in these temps but are much easier to target than they are in any other season.
There’s a short window from as soon as the sun rises to about 9am that bass will be actively feeding in the open shallows. The heat from the sun has not made these areas unbearable to a bass yet and should be where every angler starts the day fishing. This window reopens in the late afternoon. These two parts of the day are excellent for topwater lures.
As for mid day when the sun has risen, most bass have migrated back out into deeper cooler water near channels, drop offs, points, humps and ledges, or are hiding out under docks, trees, and heavily matted vegetation. What do all of these areas have in common? Protection from the sun.
Summer Bass Fishing
The two best places to target mid-day bass in the summer are in shaded areas and deeper water. For a bass, it’s all about avoiding the sun this time of year. Not only does the sun overheat the fish, but it’s blinding to them too. Unlike with humans, the pupil within the eye of a bass does not adjust to brightness. As a result bass are constantly seeking relief by moving to low light areas.
So the key is targeting these summer hot spots, and targeting them with the right approach. Let’s look at some effective techniques for doing just that.
Summer Bass Lures & Techniques
Here are six summer bass fishing lures and tactics that will put you on fish during the dog days of summer, when it seems like bass aren’t hitting anything. Some of these techniques require good and accurate casting skills so they may take some practice. But your fishing while your practicing so how can you beat that?
1. Early Morning Topwater
As mentioned above, the span of time between dusk and 9am is primetime for the shallows and shorelines. There’s generally more food in the shallows, so when these areas aren’t getting bombarded by the sun bass move in to hunt. The low light conditions and calm water make it the optimal time for topwater lures.
This is when a popper or walk-the-dog lure will get a ton of action, but really all topwaters are on the table at this point. Running them tight to cover is ideal but during the early morning hours open water can be just as effective. Cast them as close to shore as possible and work them towards deeper water or parallel to the shoreline.
2. Punching Rigs
Punching is basically when you plunge a lure through the surface of heavy matted weeds to get to the fish hiding out below, a highly effective summer bass fishing tactic. Not only do the thick matted weeds provide a shield from the sun, they also oxygenate the water and hold plenty of food. They’re loaded with baitfish and crayfish, ideal meals for a bass.
Essentially all your doing is making the bait break through the surface weeds and sink quickly to the bottom. This is best done by flipping and pitching, a casting technique where you softly swing-cast lures at close targets.
When the punch rig comes darting down through these thick weeded areas, bass in most cases take it for a crawfish heading for cover. This usually draws a reaction strike so be ready to set the hook. This technique takes some getting used to and patience so stick with it. Once you find success with it you’ll be hooked.
3. Topwater Frogging
Another way to entice bites from bass hiding under surface weeds is by running lures above them, across the weeds. There’s no better way to do that than with a hollow body frog. These lures have two hooks that face up so they are completely weedless. You can slowly drag a frog across lily pad patches or matted vegetation and watch a bass explode on it.
The only drawback to these lures is they get missed all the time. Bass are attacking them somewhat blindly and so aggressively that they don’t always get a good grip on them. The biggest advantage of fishing frogs is you can target areas of lakes and ponds you could never fish with other lures.
4. Skipping Jigs & Soft Plastics
Not all lakes have heavy matted cover and lily pad patches to cast at. This is when targeting boat docks and low hanging trees is your best bet. Really any kind of shade works but docks especially. Bass love hanging under docks and the boats tied to them.
Skipping bass jigs or plastic worms like a shaky head or a wacky worm under docks and pontoon boats is extremely effective this time of year. Skipping is casting sidearm to make your lure skip along the surface in an effort to get your lure under areas that a conventional cast would never get you. Accuracy is key with this technique so if your not familiar with skipping it’s going to take some practice.
Be sure to take your time and make multiple casts under and around each dock or tree you approach. Remember, bass have less energy this time of year and will often only hit a bait that lands close to them. A good rule of thumb is casting in five feet from your previous cast until you have complete covered the entire area.
5. Deep Diving Crankbaits
In lakes with deep water, bass will find protection from the sun and cooler water in the depths. This is when a fish finder is extremely useful for finding areas to target. You need to be able to see the bottom to know what the structure is like and where cover is located. Bass hold to deep structure and cover as a means to ambush prey, so running deep diving crankbaits through those areas can get a lot of bites.
Unfortunately without electronics your fishing blind in deeper waters, but you can still make a good estimate on where to cast by targeting the drop offs. Traveling from the shallows towards deeper water while watching the bottom will give you a good idea of how aggressive the bottom drops off. Once the bottom disappears take casts out deep and use your crankbait to tell you how deep the water is.
Start with a smaller lipped crankbait and keep increasing the size of the lip until the bait hits the bottom. If its a sandy bottom then it’s a good technique to crash against it. If there’s grass or other weeds then you can revert back to the previous lip size and run the bait just above the bottom.
6. Late Afternoon Topwater
As the hot summer days come to an end, the sun gets lower and the shallows begin to cool. This brings bass back to the shallows to hunt. Like early summer mornings, late summer afternoons produce prime conditions for topwater lures. From about 5pm to sundown in the summer, the topwater bite is at its peak again.
This is when you want to unleash your topwater arsenal, all styles will perform during these hours. The only thing you should change up to see what the bass are after is the speed of retrieval. Sometimes they’ll be looking for the fast and erratic action of a walker, while other times the slow action of popper lure will get the job done.
Depending on location, late summer can bring more extreme temperatures or can begin to cool as fall approaches. Temperature fluctuations from cold fronts and warm or cold rains can all have an effect on bass behavior. A cold front can bring the bite to a halt almost instantaneously.
Late summer can be a confusing time for an angler and it is good to have options that account for temperature variations and various bass locations. If temps are all over the place then some bass may hold in deeper water where the temps are more stable. If temps remain warm then mid summer tactics are likely still in play.
One thing is for certain, the fall bite is fast approaching. This is when bass are heavily feeding to bulk up for winter. So don’t pack up your tackle when summer ends, fall brings on some of the biggest bass bites of the year.