Late-Summer Bass PresentationsBy Josh Lantz - August 23, 2021
THICK VEGETATION FISHINGBy late August, weeds may either be submerged or top out on the surface. Find dense, healthy, green vegetation and you'll likely find concentrations of bass. These areas have abundant oxygen and shade, which are good for both bass and baitfish. Three-time Junior Division National Champion, Trey McKinney of Goresville, Illinois advises starting your shallow bass hunt by working a topwater frog in the thickest green stuff you can find.
"I start fishing frogs once water temps hit about 55 degrees in the spring - in current, on grass, wood, even rocks - but they really come into their own in August and September." McKinney most often uses a Scum Frog Launch Frog tied to 65-pound braid. His preferred frog rod is a St. Croix BassX 7'4" heavy power, fast action casting rod. "It's got enought length and just enough tip that you can throw it a mile. Long casts are key when covering water, and when bass hit, the length helps pick up line and stick them fast. St. Croix has that same rod in its Mojo Bass Series as well, along with a 70HF and a 710HF, which make great frog rods, too."
McKinney keeps two rods rigged when frogging, one with a fast 8.3:1 reel for bomb casting and searching, and one with a more powerful 6.3:1 reel once he's on them. "I like the faster reel because it allows me to cover more water, but you do lose some cranking power. The powerful 74HF BassX rod with a 6.3:1 reel is an ideal setup once you stop looking and start catching. Frog bass can really get wrapped up in the weeds, so there is often a lot of pumping and cranking going on. You need power for that."
McKinney often uses a steady walking retrieve when frogging. "I usually burn or walk them, but once I find them I slow down a bit. A cool thing about the frog bite is that if you miss a fish you can usually get them to come back up and hit again with a quick follow-up cast."
STRUCTURE FISHINGWhen bass aren't schooling out deep or marauding the shallow reeds, weeds, and pads, late-summer bass often hold on deep break lines, humps, points, ledges and other structure. Start your search by locating the depth of the thermocline on your fishfinder - the point on the water column where warmer surface water meets the cooler, deeper water. Because cold water is denser, it'll often show up prominently on your sonar. If the thermocline on your lake is currently at 15 feet, for example, find areas where significant structure like channel edges, points, or humps intersect that depth and you'll often find bass in the neighborhood.
Maloney says it's much the same with the swimbaits, which are also effective when fishing late-summer, deep weed edges. "Count it down to the depth you're marking fish and start a slow retrieve," he advises. "If you're fishing structure, let it make contact. Crawl it over the rocks and let it fall a bit when you reach the edge. That's when they tend to grab it." Maloney most often fishes swimbaits with a 6.3:1 casting reel and 16-pound fluorocarbon line.
DROPSHOT FISHINGBass relating to deep structure can be packed relatively tightly together during late summer. It can be thermocline-related, forage-related, current-related, or driven by other factors, but find a group of fish like this and you're on what bass anglers call the spot on the spot. An accurate presentation is a must. Therefore, Maloney - and a whole lot of other bass anglers - capitalize on these situations by presenting baits vertically, often with a dropshot rig which has a weight at the bottom of the line and a soft-plastic bait tied in above it.
Maloney uses his electronics to find attractive structure, often in 14-18 feet of water, then pinpoints fish on the graph and continues watching it to see how the bass respond to his bait. This is relatively easy to do using today's electronics, as the action takes place within the cone of the fishfinder's transducer, but Maloney gets even more real-time information using Panoptix LiveScan. "I drop it down and really just wiggle it a bit," he says. "If they investigate but don't bite it's time to do something else. Sometimes just dragging it slowly away from them is enough to trigger a strike.
Maloney prefers a 6'10" medium-light power, extra-fast action spinning rod when dropshotting in shallower water, but moves to a longer, more powerful 7'1" medium power, fast action spinning rod when probing deeper water. "A longer rod can help in deeper water because it gives you a bit more leverage," reveals Maloney, who says any of St. Croix's 6'8" to 7'6" medium-light and medium power BassX and Mojo Bass spinning rods with fast or extra fast tips are great options for dropshotting. "St. Croix has great dropshot rods in their other series, too, but it's hard to beat Mojo Bass and BassX for the performance and warranty you get at a really reasonable price."