Well guys, the heat has finally arrived. And, just like fishermen, the fish are also feeling the change. I will be going over a few tips and tricks that have helped me over the years in finding fish that are more apt to eat during the hottest summer days.
The best way to beat the heat is to leave the dock early and begin fishing a few minutes before the sun begins to peek over the horizon. There are some safety issues associated with running in pre-dawn darkness, but most of these can be avoided through firsthand knowledge of the route you will travel and sufficient lighting to show the way.
Yes, your GPS is a great tool, but please do not bury your head into the screen and never look up. GPS is not radar! It does not show you other boaters or waders that may have gotten an earlier start.
Quite often I have a plan in mind for areas I will fish during these stifling days. Lots of things go through my head over that first early cup of coffee. What’s the wind doing? If it’s 20-mph south you can bet I won’t be heading to the north shore of West Matagorda, or any other open water areas.
I look for areas that have the most water movement during really hot days, which usually means close to gulf passes. Gulf water is usually cooler and more oxygenated than bay water. Bay trout become lethargic in their feeding when temperatures soar and harder to catch if you’re not in the right areas.
If I cannot fish near a gulf pass, I look for areas I can drift or wade near deeper water, such as drop-offs along Blackberry or Dewberry Island. Both have a pronounced drop that gets my attention during summer.
Open water reefs in San Antonio, Espiritu Santo and West Matagorda can be key players during heated days. They all have deep areas off the edges and points. I prefer reefs where I can toss Bass Assassins into five feet or deeper water.
Other structures that deserve attention are gas wells and platforms located across our bay systems. These can pay off handsomely when the wind is light. Many anglers who frequent platforms will be anchored and throwing toward the structure. Please do not ruin their day by motoring in and fishing too close.
Just remember the key elements are; water movement, deeper water, and oxygenated water. Let your lures get down deep, whether by rigging with heavier jigs or by simply slowing your retrieve. It doesn’t do any good to fish in deep water if you’re not fishing the deeper section of the water column.
Let’s talk about lure selection and preferences. You will probably not see me in the middle of the bay fishing a reef drop-off with my trusty She Dog. Yes, it works at times, but it is not the norm. Not mine, anyway. You will have more success working near bottom with a 4” Bass Assassin Sea Shad (paddletail), or the 5” Saltwater Shad (rattail). I rig them on 1/16-ounce Assassin jig heads, (part number-05001). I use this size almost exclusively, and I’m accustomed to slowing my retrieve to let it sink. If you are uncomfortable with this, try a 1/4-ounce but I would not recommend anything heavier.
Here is my take on the difference between using the Sea Shad (paddletail) versus the Saltwater Shad (rattail). The benefit of using the Sea Shad is that during the fall of the lure you will get a lot of tail action from the bait as it descends through the water column. It will also drop a little faster than the Saltwater Shad. One catch though, the Sea Shad does not dart and dive as readily as the Saltwater Shad. Meaning that when you twitch your rod it doesn’t react (hop) as readily.
On the other hand, the Saltwater Shad will also flutter to the bottom, unless your jighead is too heavy. Which is part of the reason I like those 1/16-ounce heads. Once it reaches the bottom and you start your retrieve, each twitch will impart an up and down motion. Yes, you can work it too fast and get the same effects as the paddletails. Working this lure effectively in deep water requires a bit of finesse but I definitely believe it worth the effort to master.
The heat of summer can be trying so, again, be sure to get an early start. Pack your patience and remember to stay hydrated.Fish hard, fish smart!