The transition from spring to summer can be a difficult and sometimes frustrating time to fish but can also be the most rewarding and successful times to fish all year. This time of year the bass will typically start to school up to feed together after the spawn so it’s important to cover a lot of water because you might go a while without a bite, but once you find an active school it can be lights out.
By this time most of the bass have already spawned and are making their way to deeper water to recuperate after the spawn. With the majority of the bass getting into their post-spawn and summer patterns, they are moving out to weedlines, secondary points, and shifting their main focus to food.
However, nothing is guaranteed while fishing this time of year. With spring rain and flooding in a lot of the country leaving a lot of the lakes, rivers, and reservoirs with unseasonably high water, it can really change how the fish are behaving. This rain can change a lot with the bass moving into their summer patterns, it can change the water temperature as well as raise the water level which can keep the fish shallower longer than what is normal for this time of year.
Depending on where you are located in the country there are typically only a few different forage the bass will be looking to feed on this time of year such as bluegill, perch, shad, or crawfish. However, no matter where you’re located, bass will be looking to get back at the bluegill for harassing and pushing the bass off the beds while they were spawning.
One of the best places to find post-spawn bass are right around, and in, bluegill beds. Vast areas of bluegill beds are hard to miss while cruising down the shoreline with their unmistakable honeycomb look. But, if you aren’t having any luck on bluegill beds, odds are they have already moved out further offshore to wait out the heat of the summer.
Something to keep in mind with having such unstable weather such as constant cold fronts and heavy rains, especially this spring, is to focus on vertical cover. Some examples of this are dock pilings, seawalls, and steep drop-offs. The reason these types of cover are so important to bass this time of year is because they are able to move up and down in the water column without having to swim a far distance, and still have cover to relate to.
Now that we have covered some of the basics of what the bass are doing in early summer, we will go over what lures to throw and why they are so effective for this time of year.
Top 4 Summer Baits
Here are a few lures that are great for covering a lot of water and fishing the cover effectively during this time of year so you are able to quickly find that active school of bass.
VMC® Tokyo Rig®
One of the most versatile baits on the market, you can flip your favorite beaver / creature style bait near dock pilings and sea walls or crawl a swimbait through bluegill beds and down steep offshore breaks where the bass might be hanging out waiting for an easy meal to come by.
Topwater Baits from Storm® & Terminator®
Buzzbaits are great to cover a lot of water and you are able to throw it in and around docks and flooded timber. Other great baits to throw are ‘Walking’ baits such as the Arashi® Top Walker, and even the Terminator® Popping and Walking frog. These baits are great to throw around bluegill beds because you are able to keep the bait in the strike zone above the bluegill beds longer than a buzzbait or other topwaters. This gives the bass more time to see the bait and have more time to bite the lure.
Rapala® DT® Series Crankbaits
As the bass start to move out to deeper structure, one of the best ways to catch them is to fish points and breaks they will pass by on their way out to their summer haunts. The best way to fish these areas effectively and cover a lot of water is to throw a crankbait. However, there are hundreds of different crankbaits, but the DT Series is made of balsa wood which actually allows the bait to float when it is paused during the retrieve. This trait is very important in early spring and summer because it allows you to slow down the crankbait and catch a few more fish that might have been too lethargic and tired out from the spawn to bite a crankbait that had been burned by them already.
VMC® Shaky Head Jig
This bait is known for catching numbers of bass, which is perfect for this time of year since the fish start to group up to feed in schools. Another benefit is that anyone can throw this lure and have a lot of success. It’s as simple as adding your favorite straight tail worm to a VMC Shaky Head Jig, cast it to some sort of structure whether it is a weedline, dock piling, sea wall, or transition line, and slowly drag and shake it back to the boat while waiting on that tick from the fish for you to set the hook.
This summer, get out on the water to try a few of these tips and hopefully they will help you catch more bass between the spawn and summer stages. This time of year can be difficult to target bass but the biggest thing to remember is to cover as much water as you can, moving from shallow to deeper water and eventually you should run into a few schools that are chomping at the bit to gorge themselves on baitfish and other forage after their long spawning season, giving you a chance to slide your lure in the mix of things to catch a few quality fish.