Summer freshwater fishing season is here. In other words, gone are the days of cold nights and rainy days, lending way to rising water temperatures and sweltering heat across the nation. For many individuals, summer is when the fun starts. Early morning runs to the lake or river provide a great opportunity to spend time with family and friends and enjoy a day lounging around on a boat, tube or doing various watersports. For an angler, this can be one of the most rewarding times of the year … or the most frustrating. Many factors play into a tough bite in the summer months. In this article I will go over those factors and what you as an angler can do to ensure a successful day on the water.
As the days begin to heat up, one of the first things many anglers notice is the rapid rise of water levels and decreased clarity in the water systems. All of this is caused by melting snowpack from the previous winter dragging all the loose dirt and debris with it into our beloved reservoirs and river systems. Then the “bite” that was on fire the previous week is just gone — shut down.
Breathe! Sit back and observe your surroundings.
How much has the water risen since your last trip? If the answer is more than five feet, start looking at fishing a different depth. The fish you were catching in 10 feet of water may very well be in 20 now, sitting on that same rock pile.
The water is considerably dirtier than your previous trip. Start off by throwing a darker-colored bait or one with bright accents, such as a chartreuse tail. Lures that put out a lot of flash or vibration are also a great choice. Doing this will allow the fish to be able to key into your lure easier. And slow down! Tying on that half-ounce Texas rig to flip docks may not be your best option. In dirty water the faster the bait falls, the harder it is for the fish to see. Try a weightless presentation or something extremely light to allow for a slower fall and a more finessed presentation. This will provide a little more time for the fish to be able to spot your bait.
Are you seeing lots of baby fish or “fry” around submerged vegetation? This is a sign that bass or other species of fish have recently spawned. Typically, bass will begin to spawn when water temperatures are in the lower 70s. Shad and panfish spawn in the upper 70s to low 80s out here in California. When you start seeing fry, it’s time to start abandoning the backs of coves and work your way out to secondary or main lake points, as the fish are on the move back to deeper water.
The summer months also bring with them a slew of new vegetation to a waterway. Algae, moss and other forms of surface and subsurface plants begin to invade the waterways. These large patches of vegetation provide great structure and cover for any species. Lures of choice are going to vary widely based on the type of vegetation. However, you can never go wrong with a Hollow Body Frog or a heavy weighted Texas rig to get through the thick stuff. Of course, storage aboard a kayak can be limited. YakGear’s kayak angler crates and accessory pouches will keep your lures safe and within reach, without taking up too much space.
During the summer, the “ledge and island” bites really pick up as well. Fish will typically seek a quick and effortless route to deep water when surface temperatures start to rise during the day. Most fish will move into a shallower water over the course of the night, attempting to escape a colder water temperature for a warmer one — and then do the complete opposite as the temperature rises throughout the day. Underwater ledges and submerged islands are perfect areas for that quick escape.
Summer fishing is tough, but it can also be very rewarding. Hopefully the tips I’ve outlined will allow some of you to get back on me after a tough day with rapidly changing conditions. For me, summer is a time to really focus on my finesse techniques and learn to gain confidence in that aspect of my fishing. Until next time, happy paddling and tight lines.
About the Author
YakGear Brand Ambassador Kyle Matlock was born and raised in Fresno, California. He has been fishing since he could walk, as both of his parents are avid anglers. About two years ago, Kyle decided to get into bass fishing — and it quickly became an obsession. With bass fishing, it’s all about the tug. In October of 2017, Kyle dipped his first paddle and decided to explore kayak fishing. Today, that is where he finds amazing satisfaction and pleasure.