DAN ALDERMAN, Adventure guy, Austin, Texas
Featuring Tyler Torwick of Torwick’s Guiding Service
From time to time we like to bring in some experts to present “How To” features and tap into their knowledge. This month we’ve asked Tyler Torwick https://www.torwicksguidingservice.com, tournament angler and professional guide, to give us an education in Central Texas bass fishing as the water starts to warm up.
With the spawn over and summer approaching it’s about time we take a look at summertime bass fishing tactics. Spring is synonymous with great bass fishing, but the hot summer months are sometimes overlooked for their fishing potential. With the right knowledge and proper tools those summer months can produce the best fishing you’ve had all year!
Dog Days of Summer
I live in Austin, TX where the summer months can be downright hot. 100-degree daytime temps are all too common and the water temperatures get into the mid 80’s. These warm water temperatures have a direct impact on bass behavior. In this article we will take an in depth look at fishing locations and bait selections that will increase your chances of a successful day on the water.
Location, Location, Location
Largemouth bass are complex animals that are affected by numerous variables. In the summertime water temperatures, food sources, and dissolved oxygen levels play a critical role in patterning bass.
During the warm summer months bass tend to move offshore in search of deep structure that holds forage for them to eat and cooler water temps to live in. Warm water holds less dissolved oxygen than cooler water, resulting in fish having to expend more energy to pass water over their gills. Deep points, ledges, and offshore structure such as brush piles and rock piles are favorite hiding places for big bass.
Main lake points and secondary points that extend way out into the lake are prime areas to start your search. These can easily be identified using a lake map; look for the two points that form at the mouth of any cove for starters. If you are in a boat, pull up your map, 2d sonar, down scan sonar, and side scan sonar at the same time and make two passes across the point; one closer to shore, and one out deep. Get an idea of where the fish are positioned before you start fishing, this will help eliminate water and decrease how much time you waste fishing dead water.
Point Bait Selection
When fishing a point there are quite a few baits you can use and a lot of it comes down to what you have confidence in. My go to baits are a crankbait, a Texas rigged soft plastic, a Carolina rig and a swimbait. Where the bass are positioned on the point will give you a better idea of what to throw. When fish are situated on the deepest part of the point I will throw a Strike King 10XD that will dive to 30 feet. Make extremely long casts and get that bait to scrape the bottom to get their attention. Moving baits such as a crank bait or a swimbait are ideal search baits to cover water with and get a feel for how aggressive the fish are. Adjust the size lead head you use on your swimbait depending on how deep the fish are. After throwing these baits I will slow down and work that Texas rig or Carolina rig much slower along the bottom. A 1oz weight on a Carolina rig helps you cast further, feel the bottom easier, and kicks up more mud or dirt on the bottom to get their attention. Your Texas rig or a medium diving crankbait is perfect for when the fish are located on the shallower part of the point. Curly tail worms, brush hogs, and rattlesnakes are my preferred plastics for this method. A Rapala DT-10, a Strike King 6XD and a 10XD are my preferred crankbaits.
Productive ledges are often located close to creek channels, main lake river channels or where offshore flats drop off into deeper water. If you are looking at a lake map look for areas where the contour lines are very close together. Note the depth at the top of the ledge and at the bottom of the ledge to gauge how steep of a drop off you are fishing. Typically the bass will either be right on the edge of the top of the ledge or down deep at the base of the ledge. This is another area where sonar can be very effective as knowing how the bass are positioned plays a big role in bait selection. It is not uncommon at all for fish to suspend near these ledges when the water is really warm and not relate as much to the bottom. These fish can be a lot harder to catch but once you get them biting it typically fires up the entire school.
Ledge Bait Selection
When bass are positioned closer to the bottom, whether it be at the top of the ledge or base of the ledge I like throwing a football jig or a Texas rig. These baits are slightly interchangeable, but the idea is to throw a bait that maintains bottom contact. A ½- ¾ oz football jig is ideal to throw on top of the ledge, then let it sink vertically to the bottom of the ledge to fish both parts of it.
A drop shot is another very effective technique for this and is especially good when the fish are being a bit more finicky. When the bass are suspended along the ledge I like to throw an Alabama rig, a scrounger head, or a deep diving crankbait. The idea is to throw a moving bait that will pass through the school of fish eliciting a reaction strike. These suspended fish can be tougher to catch, but once you get one to bite you usually excite the rest and will have a small window to keep catching them.
Bass are a structure-oriented fish, they like places they can hide from prey in order to ambush them, or to act as a home, which provides them protection from predators. During the summer months brush piles and rock piles can hold some of the biggest fish in the lake. During the winter months I will actually take old Christmas trees or cut down cedar trees and sink them with cinder blocks to create fish habitat. Side scan sonar is the most effective tool for locating rock piles and brush piles. However, if you are new to an area check out the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s website. The state actually puts brush piles in a lot of public lakes as fish habitat and publishes the GPS coordinates online for anglers.
Offshore Structure Bait Selection
When fishing a brush pile or rock pile, boat position and the accuracy of your cast is very important. I recommend using a marker buoy or keeping your front graph on the mapping screen to know exactly where to cast. If your cast is not hitting your target the chance of getting bit goes way down. For fishing this type of structure my go to baits are a flutter spoon, a football jig and a drop shot. A flutter spoon ripped up and down, and allowed to flutter back to the bottom on a semi-slack line is a great imitation of a dying bait fish such as a shad or shiner. Your bigger bites will often come on this lure.
Rock piles tend to attract a lot of crawfish; a staple of a bass’ diet. A football jig with a craw imitation trailer is a great weedless presentation that can be worked slowly through the brush and rocks without getting hung up. Once you are close or over the top of the structure send down a drop shot with a straight tail worm such as a Zoom trick worm or a Roboworm. Small twitches will give the bait action to help trigger a bite… keep it subtle and don’t over work your dropshot. You can fish this rig vertically quite easily and detect those subtle bites better than you would any other bait.
Hot Months – Hot Bites
During the heat of the summer, when you just don’t seem to get bit up shallow, moving out deep is almost always your best bet. For a lot of anglers this can be out of your comfort zone. I recommend getting to the lake early before the summertime boat traffic gets out there. Try to fish days with low winds that way you aren’t trying to fight to stay in position and just take your time making repeated casts really working an area thoroughly. If you still are struggling with deep offshore fishing consider giving me a call! I offer guided fishing trips solely dedicated to coaching in which we will focus on everything you’ve just read and much much more! Please visit my website http://www.torwicksguidingservice.com for more information.