The late summer period, just about two weeks prior to turnover, have produced multiple trophy largemouth and smallmouth summer bass for my fishing partners and I for more than 50 seasons. Chasing off-shore giants during the latter part of the summer season has been quite rewarding. The largest bass in the system can be locating on main lake basin forage in various parts of the water column, or by pounding crawdads on pelagic humps, ledges and basin channel depressions as the hot weather period is just about ready to start to change.
Big bass seem to sense the oncoming seasonal change and slight variance in water temperature preceding the start of the first stage of turnover, and gorge themselves for approximately a 2 week time frame. Looking back at our meticulously kept logs and data spanning more than five decades, the result has been virtually the same. During many seasons back in the Northeast, this 2 week time frame would vary by a week or so depending on that specific season’s weather conditions, water temperatures and water levels, but the fact remained the same year after year. The pre-new moon nights in the month of August produced multiple trophy size Northern strain Largemouths and smallies as far back as our data records.
On a late summer night back in 1984, a friend and I fished a prime body smallmouth water from 8.00pm til 4.30am in southern New York state. We timed the late summer bite windows perfectly and fished steep rocky cliff zones with quick access to the main lake basins. It was 3 nights before the new moon and the daytime temperature had exceeded the mid-90’s with high humidity levels. Various areas contained the ingredients needed to hold groups of aggressive smallies in the 3 to 6 lb range. We ended up boating 44 smallies and lost a few more, with one being the largest smallmouth I’ve seen to date.
Two nights later, we were back at it on a nearby favorite largemouth lake of ours in the Harriman Lakes State Forest. This night produced my buddy’s heaviest Northern strain New York largemouth that tipped the scales right at 8 lbs. A huge largemouth for New York State. This was not a high numbers night, but heavy fog and calm water just before a heavy thunderstorm arrived, had the big fish being aggressive during a major 2.00am til 3.15am bite window. We totaled only 11 fish that night, but 6 went 5 lbs or better. The combination of weather element factors, moon phase and the latter part of summer had combined on another last season successful few days for big fish.
This scenario has repeated itself year after year since, and preceding those trips as well. Our past 9 seasons here in the southwest on high canyon reservoirs have proven the same results at a time of the season, when many anglers are waiting for the fall peak bite. The time slot may be 2 weeks difference out here and last a week or so longer, but the bass are reacting the same way and are locating on the same type of areas. Our primary areas here in the Southwest mirror our preferred zones back in the Northeast. Main Lake basins containing deep structures, channel depressions, rocky ledges and steep bluffs all produce trophy size bass in the latter stage of the hot weather time frame.
The Southwestern waters here produce better over all numbers and multiple trophy fish each season. Some of our more productive tactics for the last weeks of summer include: long-line strolling, dead-sticking, casting, and covering various angles and depths from deep to shallow and mid-depths to deep on rocky structures and ledges in up to 60 feet of water. We are targeting specifically giant fish here, so you need to be focused on areas of the waters you target that contain quick access to the deepest water possible and that hold various forage that will draw and hold trophy bass in those specific zones.
Many trophy bass, including largemouth, smallies and spots may be suspending at various depths off-shore where forage in consolidated. Paying astute attention to your electronics is essential to locate solitary giants or groups of fish throughout specific depths and on off-shore structure zones.
During peak bite windows out-size bass will attack wake-baits, swimbaits, suspending large jerkbaits, deep cranks, swim jig combos and a variety of topwater presentations in the middle of no man’s land. During a time of the season when many anglers don’t bother fishing as much, during this late season hot water bassin’ you may find yourself on the water with no boat traffic or with a just a few other anglers on your waters. If you choose smaller off-beat waters that contain the gene pool to hold true trophy fish in the states you fish, you will enjoy a short-lived true big bass explosion for at least a two week span during the late dog days of summer.
Points to Remember: 1. Choose waters containing a good population of trophy bass 2. Eliminate dead water quickly. 3. Bite windows will be later than mid-summer, calculate the time increment changes and move prime bite windows up 30 to 45 minutes. These time frames will vary with geographical locations, but will remain consistent once dialed in. 4. Focus on areas attracting forage pods throughout main lake basins, channel depressions, steep ledges. Inside and outside turns on expansive weed flats the border the deepest sections of the body of water your on. 5. Focus on our electronics to locate prime structure zones and set up GPS way-points to return to prime big fish zones at various times of the day or night. 6. Stay focused and hydrated during hot weather to keep your mind clear and focused on the task at hand. 7. Choose the proper baits and presentations for each exact location where giant bass are locating. 8. If possible, schedule trips within weather windows that offer you the best chance at major activity levels providing a multiple big fish bite. Fish 4 or 5 days before, and up to a day before the actual moon.
This later summer period may surprise you when you fish it correctly and time it right….
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