How to Fish Late Summer in the South
by Dustin Wilks
With all the pro tournaments headed up north in late summer, not much information is available for those of us stuck in the heat.
Late summer is undoubtedly the toughest time of year to bass fish in the south. I’ve learned a few things over many years that may help out bass fans.
Depending on the body of water, bass can be incredibly concentrated in tight smallish schools roaming both the banks and open water, or simply scattered seemingly throughout the lake. Schools can be ghosts and bank fish very undependable.
To put the odds in my favor, I try to keep fishing simple, often not concerning myself with these roamers, but also making the necessary adjustments to catch fish.
The simplest of all is to pretend it is fall and go up the creeks. Creeks with current are best, but often these are hard to find due to low rainfall. You will be surprised how quickly and how many shad will be present in many of these, even with no current.
There probably won’t be as many fish in these creeks as there are in October, but there will be some and some big ones that simply have lived there all year without any fishing pressure. I resist looking deep under all the shad if they are really thick, that is a lost cause for me. I always look nearby in shallow heavier cover.
My approach depends on the type of creek. If it is a big flat creek, I’m looking for any defined channel with stumps. If none are around, I’m looking for isolated cover on flats.
Keeping it simple once again, I’ll usually fish a buzzbait if the water is shallow, like 1 to 2 feet around this cover. If it is deeper than 2 feet then I’m using a crankbait (usually a Yo-Zuri Squarebill for 3 feet and a Hardcore Medium Diver in 4-6). I’m not really ever looking deeper than that unless the water is clear.
If there is water willow (bank grass as we call it in the south) then I’ll have a Tactical Shad Eco-Pro Swim jig with a Culprit Flutter Craw in Albino color. There is a good chance of big fish being in this type of cover all the time and nothing is more efficient in it than a swim jig.
On creeks that have some water on the banks, a Buzzbait with Culprit Pro Frog Trailer in Pearl White gets the nod, to skip under overhanding trees and shallow docks. A Falcon Expert 7’3’’ heavy is the perfect rod with a bit of tip for this job. Yo-Zuri 50lb braid is needed for the heavy stuff and ease of skipping.
My next Favorite pattern if I can get nothing going in the creeks is to fish bream beds. Usually these are in the same pockets that the bass spawned in often right in the middle of the backs.
If there are active spawning bream around, there will be bass. I fish two baits most of the time. First is a Yo-Zuri 3DB Prop in bluegill or gold orange belly. I use this if the bass are obviously active and the beds are slightly deeper like 1.5 or 2 feet, because I get really good hookups with this bait.
If it is really shallow or I don’t want to risk getting hung up with treble hooks, I use a buzz bait with frog trailer or a frog by itself with a special limited run Culprit Pro-Frog called Bream Bed Special. It’s a greenish hue with a pale orange belly and they crush it. This looks and acts like a bluegill and gets positive strikes. I like the buzzbait with Pro Frog especially on really shallow bluegill beds from just inches to 1.5 feet deep or so. If the water is dirty however I go with black.
There are always fish doing other things and it is highly dependent on the body of water and amount of current in the system, but these two patterns will get you started catching bass if it has gotten tough for you in late summer.