LATE SPRING/EARLY SUMMER REVISITED
Late spring/early summer bass fishing has its ups and downs. The weather is changeable, water and air temperatures can fluctuate widely and bass change location all the time. Chilly mornings and hot afternoons demand using a combination of winter and summer gear (the layered look), but be sure that this time of year sees the largest concentration of adult bass in an area than at any other time, so your chance of latching on to a big one is therefore very good. But the basics of bass fishing remain, namely using the correct gear, locating the fish and good bait presentation.
Know this: when warming weather arrives bass will start to leave their winter habitat and seek spawning grounds in the shallows.
As the number of daylight hours increase and water temperatures rise, warmer water and also food organisms are found in the transition depths and shallows, so adult bass seek out these warmer areas and the food it holds as they start preparing themselves for spawning.
The warmer conditions also increase their metabolism so they activly seek food, which of course is to the bass angler’s advantage. All these factors combine to produce if not the best bass fishing of the year, then some exciting times on the water!
Even so, it is not just a matter of “chucking and chancing” it. The right combination of location, bait and presentation must still be achieved.
While bass are often located in shallow water, especially during the latter part of the afternoon, they could also be skittish and wary. This is the time to use thin, minnow-type top water lures. They can be fished on a steady retrieve, but a preferred tactic is to twitch them along the surface.
In water that varies between one to two metres deep, such as around a jetty, over weedbeds or a point, or over humps and rockpiles, cast the bait out and let it sit there for as long as you can stand. But wait at least as long as it takes for the ripples to subside completely. Then give it a twitch and wait for the ripples to subside again. Follow up with a harder jerk to make it slide just under the surface, then pause to let it surface. Rest it to let the ripples subside, and repeat the twitch-pause-jerk-pause retrieve several times before casting out again over the cover.
If there have been several days of constantly warm weather bass will move up onto shallow flats that have some form of vegetation. The higher water temperature increases the feeding activity and the fish tend to be less skittish, so a change of tactic can be used, namely using a long cast and a medium deep runner on a reasonably fast retrieve. This way a lot of water can be covered quickly while the distinctive wobble of this type of bait often results in instinct strikes. A more drastic tactic is to cast it out, crank it down and then sweep the rod back and up. Reel in the slack and repeat all the way back to the boat. This tactic “rips” the lure through the water and often triggers strikes.
Another bait that triggers instinct strikes is a minnow/spinner combinatin. Either “rip” it in on a fast retrieve or reel it in just fast enough to get the blades turning.
With late spring and emerging summer characterisd by changeable weather patterns, a sudden cold front sweeping in will certainly put bass that were in shallow water just days before temporarily back into deep water.
This is a time to use a deep water bait – let it sink down deep and retrieve at medium speed. If it bumps along the bottom, so much the better. Also use the “sweeping” retrieve, namely crank it down and sweep the rod back with a small pause between each sweep to take up the slack.
Another good deep water tactic is to fish a spinnerbait. Cast it out and let it drop down to the bottom on a slack line. But keep a close watch on the line as a stike can happen “on the drop”, namely as the bait flutters down through the water to the bottom. If no strike is felt, pluck it off the bottom and retrieve just fast enough to twirl the blade. Don’t be afraid to also let it bump along the bottom.
*The most important strategy to catch bass at this time however, is to be on the water and casting!