July fishing is a vastly different story from even a month ago. I have known that for years. But for some reason, it seems like I always forget. This year has been no different.
The fish were practically jumping into the boat in June, but with July’s hot days and rising water temperatures, the all-day bite died. This goes for the walleyes we were after, but also the bass. Now, I’m not saying you can’t catch a smallmouth at noon, because you can, but the action seems to be a heck of a lot better around sunset.
This reality has me planning my time on the water around low-light conditions. Mornings, which start awful early this time of year, seem to be better for longer time periods than in the evening. This is especially true when the sun is out.
It seems as if the bite stays active well into the mornings, but doesn’t really get going in the evenings until it’s almost too dark to wear sunglasses any longer. So I’ve been forcing myself to get up at 4:30 in order to be on the water when things are really happening.
And what’s been happening, at least for me, is topwater action.
The smallies seem to be firmly in place on main-lake rockpiles and long, rocky points and they always seem to have a buddy (or seven) with them. That means aggressive topwater strikes and fish following the hooked fish to the boat. In my humble opinion, fishing doesn’t get much better than that. Ever.
If you’re into summer smallmouth, bust out the prop baits, the poppers, and anything designed to walk the dog. You might only get an hour or two in the morning or evening when they are looking up and ready to smash wounded baitfish and brazen frogs, but that time will be well worth it.