It’s a hot summer day on the Savannah River, and I’ve been fishing since the early morning. I’ve spent the day both running top water and also going deep with my trusty dropshot. Despite several 10-12 pound bags, I can’t quite seem to bag that big fish I’ve been dreaming about since Spring. You know the kind I’m talking about….a big ol girl, eyes that look like golf balls, heavy on the line, something to really make your friends jealous. I can see the fish vividly in my head, but can’t quite take it from my head to my reel. With temperatures rising above ninety, I start to think all the naysayers must be right. They say you can’t catch much in the dog days, especially shallow bass, when it’s this hot out, but I was out to prove them wrong.
I called in the big forces for this one, my good friend, Brian Latimer, Bassmaster Northern Open and Rayovac pro. Brian said he could teach me a few tricks to help my game and score me that big fish, despite the hot temperatures.
- Go to places you don’t normally go.
Chasing top water fish on the lake is common knowledge, especially on the Savannah River chain, and it is to ensure some solid catches. To catch fish you don’t normally catch, you must fish places you don’t normally fish. Try fishing in the very back of a creek arm, where the natural creek run-off flows. Often times, the fish lurking in these dark waters never leave the creek. They stay there along the shady banks, in the bushes or any brush. Bass are warm blooded creatures, When the water temperature rises these shallow fish get more active causing the fish to need to eat more. The dirty water in these feeder creeks usually indicates a flow of water, in turn generating the oxygen required to keep these fish stable and active.
- Use a variety of baits.
Typically the most difficult part of catching these shallow fish is unmasking their location. Once you find those few creeks that are holding fish, you are then burdened with the task of deciphering what they want. Brian looks at it three ways: they either want it on top, in the middle, or flipping. When he’s planning for a trip to go beat the heat in the shades of the creek, he always has a frog, buzz bait, floating worm, and texas rig on the deck of the boat. As he hones in on the pattern, he will figure out just where in the water column these fish want the bait. Take notice of the forage in the creek, and be sure to look for shade, may flies and bream to try and match the hatch.
- Quit adjusting your trailer and keep your bait in the water.
Fishing a creek bank infused with laydowns and overhanging branches can make for some interesting casting opportunities. Often times the fish are hiding deep inside an array of brush or behind the arms of an outstretched willow tree and the only way to reach that sweet spot is to skip your bait under. You will notice after a couple of skips, your trailer will be sliding down the hook and soon you’ll spend more time adjusting your hook than actually fishing. Try using a Chunk X Sling by tour Edge Lures, which holds the trailer on the bait skip after several brutal skips. Not only will it save you time but also money when you factor in the savings on trailer packs.
- Long legs aren’t always a good thing.
As it skims across the water, the flappy appendeges on some trailers will slow the bait down. To solve this issue, choose a trailer with a long flat surface and with as few pieces to grab the water on a skip as possible. Brian will go so far as to cut the curly part of the legs off the trailer, leaving small, straight legs behind.
With both the right location and the right use of tackle, we finally bagged that big fish, and ended up cracking the 15lb mark that day, an admirable feat for me. By implementing these tips and tricks into your tackle box, my hopes are that you will as well. To achieve those things most people don’t normally achieve requires doing those things most people don’t normally do.
Fishing like everyone else, using the usual methods, will score you a catch like the rest of your friends, but learning to fish with strategy, precision and thought might just give you that catch you’ve held in your mind for years.