Summer strategy: catching bass from shallow cover
Any walleye fisherman who’s dragged a Lindy rig along a deep weedline or piece of structure during the summer has experienced the exhilaration of feeling a bite and setting the hook, only to watch as the line angles toward the water’s surface. From there, it isn’t long before a bass jumps out of the water.
The regularity with which walleye anglers catch bass proves that some bass – actually, a lot of them – spend the warm-water months in deep water. And it’s the same reason many bass anglers do nothing but ply deep water when the mercury rises.
The thing about bass in deep water is that when you catch one, you’ll probably catch more, due to their schooling nature. Find a spot holding a big school of feeding fish and you can catch bass on nearly every cast for extended periods of time.
That’s all well and good, but there’s something about shallow cover that’s synonymous with bass fishing. It’s fun to fish, no doubt, but it also can be super-productive – even when it’s so hot that it seems like any bass in its right mind should be enjoying the cool depths.
Shallow cover comes in a variety of forms, but on the lakes I fish, it’s primarily boat docks, reed beds, and trees that overhang the water. I come upon lily pad beds and think mats of vegetation from time to time, too. Bass use all these types of cover for resting and for ambushing prey.
I’ll try any piece of shallow cover once, though it seems like those with ready access to deep water tend to hold more and bigger fish. Also, the nastier-looking the vegetation, the more complex the boat dock, and the thicker the reed bed, the more likely it is to hold fish.
There are lots of ways to fish shallow cover, but two of my favorites are pitching a jig and pig or skipping a Senko or other plastic lure without any weight. Get as far under the dock or into the vegetation as possible, shake the lure a few times, and then reel it back. Almost every time, a fish will hit as the lure drops or just after it hits the bottom. You can save yourself a lot of time by not working the lure all the way back to the boat.
Another neat thing about shallow cover is it tends to replenish itself. That means that year after year, so long as the cover still exists, you can catch bass from it.
As we get into the heart – and heat – of the summer, don’t overlook the shallows, no matter how hot it gets. Because it’s likely the fishing there will be even hotter.