By Al Lindner
Summertime is in full swing, but before we know it, ice and freezing temperatures will replace the current hot days. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves! For now, hot and humid days are pretty much the norm.
These scorching, muggy days often have many anglers thinking one thing: The bite is going to be tough. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The “dog days of summer?” Nope, I’ve never heard of them when it comes to largemouth bass. This time of year can be truly explosive for largemouths. You can honestly catch fish all day long. Warm-weather patterns have bass biting well – and I mean really well.
During this timeframe, you can catch largemouth bass with just about any technique you want to fish. Want to throw a frog? You can do it. Want to drag a Ned or Neko? That’ll work. Want to pitch, flip, or punch? Those are fair game, too.
Some fish are shallow and some fish are deep, so the choice of how to fish is ultimately yours. Unlike many other fish species, largemouths almost always are cooperative.
Even in unwelcome weather conditions, largemouth bass still tend to oblige an angler at some level. A typical 30- to 40-fish day may end up simply being a 10- to 15-fish day.
One of my favorite largemouth bass patterns for this time of year involves a one-two punch of topwater lures and swim jigs. For this to be most effective, having two anglers in the boat is ideal. One angler should be throwing topwater lures, such as poppers and walking baits, and the other should be throwing a swim jig.
Using both techniques in unison covers all the bases and gives an angler the opportunity for a successful outing no matter how the fish are acting.
This pattern is extremely effective in everything from slightly stained lakes to clear-water lakes with well-established weed growth. For those who live or fish in Minnesota, Wisconsin, or Michigan, there are thousands of lakes that fit this mold.
The objective is to focus primarily on the heavy weed growth in 8 to 18 feet of water. Cabbage beds are always a top choice, but this pattern is proven with most weed types. When you think bass, you probably think within the weeds. But this bite actually occurs above those weeds.
As bluegills ride high in the water column, bass are right behind them, ready to feed. The topwater-swim jig combo is efficient, so a team of anglers can cover water quickly.
This bite will continue well into September – basically until just before turnover occurs. The warmest stretches of summer are the best days for this hard-hitting combination, especially when things are really hot and humid.
My top choices for topwater baits in this pattern are the Storm Arashi Cover Pop and Rapala Skitter V. When it comes to rods, the all-new St. Croix Rods Legend Tournament Bass is hard to beat. For poppers and walking baits, the 6-foot, 8-inch medium power, extra fast action is the ideal combination for working the bait. For swimming a jig, I lean on the 7-foot, 1-inch medium-heavy power, fast action to do the heavy lifting.
Both rods are paired with Daiwa Tatula reels in the 7.1:1 ratio. Topwater rigs are finished off with 12-pound Sufix Advanced Mono, and swim jig setups use 14-pound Sufix Advanced Fluorocarbon.
Don’t let the old dog-days-of-summer excuse get in your head. This is one of the best times of year to be a largemouth bass angler. Fish can be found shallow, deep, and anywhere in between. Pick your strategy and fish them how you’d like.