With bass fever running high in early summer, it would be nice if the fish themselves were schooling and feeding intensively. But done with spawning, bass of both species seem intent on recuperation before they’ll strap on the feed bags for midsummer. Big female smallies and largemouths drift off to deeper water, often suspending. Why they do this is a bit of a mystery, but the reason just might be because it’s comfortable. Males (and some females) hang out along shorelines, breaklines, and transitions on the bottom. The vegetation of midsummer has yet to emerge and hold bait, and the bass, in most cases, remain scattered.
The challenge is finding bass. Most productive methods involve covering water, though the fish are neither focused on a forage type nor particularly active. So you generally need to cover water slowly. Trolling sinking plugs or crankbaits along breaklines can be a good searching strategy. Time of day can matter. Working surface plugs and bugs slowly over shorelines is an excellent early-morning approach. During the day, try to cover water vertically—that is, by drifting along and casting a slow-falling plastic jig, Senko worm, or tube next to a weedline. If the plastics fail, try drifting a shiner or nightcrawler a foot or two off the bottom.
From the June 2012 issue of Field & Stream magazine.
Photo by Eric Engbretson