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  Go back to the News List! Hunting bass in the heat 07/13/2005 Document  
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  Hunting bass in the heat
On Fishing

By Gary Klein
What's the difference between a cagey old bass and the person sitting in the boat trying to catch it?

Well, there are a lot of differences, but one thing the two have in common - especially on a hot, long summer day - is a natural attraction to the shade. Most folks think that catching big bass in the summer is more difficult, but it doesn't have to be. Much like anything else that has to spend all day outside during the hottest part of the year, bass will look for a shady place to hang out. Finding these places is the first step towards catching more than a sunburn this summer.

Shade fishing will pay off on big lakes (as well as farm ponds, backwater sloughs and creeks) in the middle of the day where it is common to locate big bass holding on the shady side of boat docks, in the shade of walkways leading to boat docks and piers and in the shade of pilings on the side of boat docks and piers. Water vegetation such as weeds and grasses also create shade for bass to hold in during the middle of the day. The thicker the cover and denser the grass, the more likely that you'll find bass holding there.

Often you'll have the most success when fishing soft plastics and jigs in big water shade. Pitching the plastic worm or lizard under a boat dock can cause a bass attack. These two lures also can catch bass in the grass. To catch big bass in the middle of the day in the summer months, fish a heavy jig that will punch a hole in the thick grass. Then let the bait fall.

When I fish a jig in the grass, I'm primarily fishing the lure on the fall and watching my line to see the strike. It's important to have a good pair of polarized glasses so you can see the line against the contrast of the water in the bright sunlight. I like Cocoons because they fit over my glasses so I can tie my knots and still cut down on the glare. When the lure hits the bottom, I shake my rod tip to make the bait quiver. If the bass doesn't attack the bait within 10 seconds of its laying on the bottom, then I reel the lure in and make another cast.

If a finesse approach in the shade doesn't provide the action, topwater baits can be equally effective in warm water. Regardless of the time of year or the day, I'll always find some bass holding in shallow water, holding on shoreline cover in shallow water, and most of the time they will bite a topwater bait. Experience with depthfinders will also allow anglers a third option in the summer, targeting structure-oriented bass in deep water on bottom breaks, humps, drop-offs and ledges. Some anglers will only fish where they see bass holding close to or on the bottom of his depthfinder. More experienced anglers will fish the bottom breaks and humps because they know that many times the bass will hold just under or beside bottom cover, and you might not spot them on a depthfinder.

While summertime fishing doesn't offer the feeding-frenzy action that anglers experience closer to the spawn, fishing doesn't have to cool off just because the temperatures rise.

(Editor's note: This is part of a series of monthly columns by two-time BASS Angler of the Year and 22-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier, Gary Klein. Among the many fishing techniques that Klein demonstrates and teaches anglers involves sight fishing and the importance of vision while in the pursuit of big fish. Klein's columns will focus on everything from eye care to spotting fish in the water and other general and safety advice.)

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