Sizing Up Summertime Baits
By this time of year, throughout many parts of the country, bass have seen a fair amount of fishing pressure. Common sense tells us that bass in this situation can become harder to catch and luring them to bite requires downsizing both line and bait. While this may be a good tactic for most places, targeting pressured bass in summer doesn't always require picking up a spinning rod and a finesse bait.
As the popularity of tubes, finesse worms and creature baits continue to increase, the traditional plastic worm seems to be used less and less. For this reason, a big 10-inch worm can be the best choice for several summertime situations.
Large worms (I also use a 7-inch Berkley Ribbontail Power Worm in more open water) are great for the warmer months. I start using them in the late spring when the bass start keying on shad and other baitfish and continue it throughout the summer. When it comes to choosing a big worm, I rely on the water's color, fish size and the surrounding structure to help me decide. Stained or dark water that is holding quality fish is a prime place to try a 10-inch Berkley Power Worm, preferably in a darker color. The big profile is easy for the bass to pick up, plus the action of the longer body draws bass in. To the fish, eating one big meal takes a lot less effort and energy than chasing down several smaller meals. In the summer, big bass like to lay up in the shade of trees and other structure in hopes of ambushing their prey, so to make the best use of this bait, make sure you are casting it in and around heavy cover like vegetation and wood.
My basic set up is a 7-foot medium-heavy Fenwick Techna AV baitcasting rod and an Abu Garcia Torno low-profile reel spooled with 17-pound Berkley Vanish fluorocarbon line. Usually, a quarter-ounce weight is best, but I may use a heavier weight depending on the wind, depth of the water I am fishing and the rate of fall that I am looking for. Sometimes, a fast-falling bait can trigger reaction strikes — especially in the summer. I simply "Texas rig" the worm with a 4/0 or 5/0 hook and fish it like I do any other plastic worm.
Summertime can be a great time for catching bass, even when the temperature reaches triple digits. By fishing big worms, you can effectively target the big bass where they live during the hottest times of the year. And by using bigger baits, it allows you to fish with heavier line and stouter gear so there's less of a chance that the big one will break you off. So this summer, instead of downsizing your line and bait, go bigger and catch bigger fish.
Larry Nixon is a former Bassmaster Classic winner with more than $2.1 million in career earnings. Nixon, who currently fishes the FLW Tour, lives in Bee Branch, Ark.
(Editor's note: This is part of a series of monthly columns by former Bassmaster Classic Champion, Larry Nixon. Nixon's columns will teach anglers around the country some of his favorite tactics for pursuing big fish. Nixon's columns will focus on everything from spawn fishing to sight fishing and other fishing advice.