Picture this: You are fishing in a shallow lake and it is 10:00 am, the hot summer sun is blistering. All aquatic life seems to have come to a halt, and you haven’t had a strike since the sun’s rays have crept high enough to penetrate the water. Time to go home? No way! You have got those bass right where you want them- tucked into patches of thick light-stopping cover. So when is the best time to catch bass?
Tens of thousands of lakes and ponds across our country have conditions that cause many of their bass to move shallower under bright conditions. Better waters for this tactic lack depth, and have little or no structure below the level of light penetration. Bass often seek refuge under surface-blanketing cover. The water below is cooler, more oxygen-rich, and generally holds an abundance of small fish, frogs, and crayfish. The best time to catch bass in this area would be when there is shade over the body of shallow water where you are fishing.
Shallower areas of deeper lakes can also be productive, as can coves in reservoirs. Debris-laden outside bends in slower-moving rivers, and even ponds where winds have pushed floating junk to one corner are all prime areas to target.
My Favorite Lures
When fishing over this cover, a gutsy bait-casting rod spooled with 30 to 50-pound braided line is a must. In southern waters where larger bass and inter-mixed wood cover may exist, you might even want to go a little heavier. There are three types of lures that I favor: a “skitter spoon”, large Uncle Josh Pork Frog on a big weedless hook, and my favorite- a hollow bodied frog such as a SnagProof or Spro.
The spoon should be stopped just before it hits the water so it lands on its back with the hook up. Skitter or hop it across the surface with the rod tip held high. Then let it flutter down slightly when it comes over a hole or off the edge. I fish the hollow-bodied frogs and pork frogs the same way; hop them across the cover and just before they get to an opening stop and quiver them a bit to tease a lurking bass. Then slowly hop them across the opening.
Strikes are often explosive and a less experienced slop angler will often miss more bass that he or she should. Two big keys to high hook-up ratios; make sure you use braid and set the hook hard. Delay the hook-set until you see the lure disappear or feel the fish. Sometimes using a more visible lure helps. Try to put a lot of pressure on a bass and ‘horse it’ out of the cover. If it’s a big one and get buried in the slop, motor right into it and pull it straight up to a waiting net. spencepetros.com