If you're clever enough, big bass are there for the taking
By LENNY CRISPINO
Published June 6, 2003
Summer is the most difficult time to catch largemouth bass. Bass typically move to deeper water during warm months in search of cooler temperatures, ambush areas and to forage. The fisherman who can read a depth finder and understand bottom contour will be more effective catching bass this time of year.
The water surface temperature will range from 80-90 degrees throughout the summer. The water under a mat of vegetation or in 8-10 feet of water will be considerably cooler. The combination of deep water and vegetation is the ideal situation.
Locating these key spots is the hard part. Any map will show bottom depth, but no map can show you where the vegetation is growing. To find the vegetation turn the depth finder on and cover water.
If your boat doesn't have a depth finder, determine bottom cover by using a lure that makes bottom contact, like a Carolina-rigged worm. Keep a marker buoy handy, and when you see or feel something different on the bottom, drop it over. This will give you a reference to cast around.
Work the area thoroughly. Start by throwing fast-moving lures like spinnerbaits and rattling baits. Both of these lures will catch the active bass around the vegetation.
Once you have combed through the area with these lures, put on a Florida-rigged plastic worm. This lure is unique in that the weight is screwed into the head of the weedless worm, allowing it to penetrate the grass and be fished where the bass are living. This lure is most effective when used in conjunction with a glass rattle and scent attractant.
When rigging the lure, use just enough weight to feel the bottom. If you can't feel the bottom, you won't feel the bite. Cast the lure to the vegetation and allow it to fall to the bottom. Keep the rod tip up and the line tight. To move the worm, lift the rod tip from the 10 o'clock to 11 o'clock position.
Allow the bait to sit on a tight line. Lower the rod back down to the 10 o'clock position using the reel to gather the slack line. Work the worm slowly and methodically all the way back to the boat. A bite is usually a very apparent thump, but if you feel anything different, set the hook. A big bass is often the lightest biter.
Once you find the vegetation that is holding active fish, you can often go back to these areas and catch bass all summer.
LAKE TARPON: Bass are schooling early in the day and can be easily caught on topwaters and soft jerk baits. Wild shiners are catching the bigger bass, but you have to be patient. Bluegill and shellcrackers have been biting good on wigglers and crickets. Several regulars are reporting catching a limit in a few hours.
WEST LAKE TOHO: Bass are schooling over hydrilla in front of Reds Fish Camp. Rattling crank baits and jerk baits will catch them. The big bass can't resist a wild shiner pulled in front of them on a bobber. Several bass in the 9- to 10-pound range are being caught on shiners, as 1- to 2-pound bass are chasing bait. Bream fishing has been good in Cypress Canal (between West Lake and Cypress). Use crickets and wigglers near the bank.
LAKE OKEECHOBEE: Big bass are crushing spinnerbaits and soft jerk worms on grass edges. White or watermelon are the colors. The north ends of the Lake Grassy Island and Kings Bar have been good.
- Lenny Crispino guides on Lake Tarpon. Call (727) 938-2379.