Common Summertime Topwater Bass Fishing Challenges
So what exactly are the challenges to summertime topwater fishing from shore ?
First, air temperatures in many regions of the United States can easily climb over 100 degrees with humidity during the summer; These increased temperatures factored with humidity, can make for uncomfortable and even dangerous fishing outings.
Access to Shoreline
Second, shoreline tree growth is dense at this point of the season; greatly reducing accessible and walkable shoreline.
Pressured from Shore
Third, bass are usually pressured from the shore in many local public fishing areas; and competing with other anglers for pressured bass is all too common.
Fourth, canopies of floating vegetation and lily pads limit our presentation options; effective lure choices become more crucial to success. Also, many anglers avoid shallow water bass in summertime because they just don’t own the proper equipment; so gearing up properly is essential.
Now that we can easily see some of the challenges in front of us, let’s concentrate on ways to overcome them!
Overcoming these challenges can be incredibly rewarding and help you land some solid largemouth from the shoreline!
1) Beat the Heat
Yes, this is a blanket statement but during the first week of July here in Michigan, we have already seen four days of 100 degree weather with humidity. In fact, on one of those days I was at a baseball game and a few rows over, a fan had to receive medical attention for heat stroke.
It’s not a situation to be taken lightly, so when temperatures climb it’s important to be prepared. Some of the ways I guard against the heat are wearing performance fishing gear and bringing enough cold water for my fishing trip. I like to wear Huk Performance Gear with Sun Protection and Cooling technologies built in. You can wear any brand you like, but be sure it keeps you cool and protected.
I also bring a backpack when venturing out along the shore. I pack it with tackle, a towel, sunscreen, bug spray, a hat, sunglasses, smartphone, first aid kit, a snack and at least 20 oz of water. Although I’m fairly resistant to heat, I want to be prepared when walking a few miles of shoreline in the heat of July. But when weather is unbearable or dangerous, I find it safer and more productive to fish from 5am-10am or 7pm-midnight.
Be smart about when you fish.
2) Use Technology to Plan Your Shoreline Areas
In July and August, most trees and shoreline plants are approaching full growth. Some local waters which were fishable from shore in April or October, are now completely surrounded with a fully developed reed line. There are also many trees and shrubs grown in along the shore and this makes casting in tight quarters a must.
This is when a quick birds eye view of the shoreline, using Google Maps, or ANGLR, can reveal open landscape along the shore, which may not fully grow in during the summertime. Using these tools, can also reveal rock outcropping, elevated shorelines and trails which can provide access to new stretches of shoreline.
I prefer to use ANGLR, you can even choose to mark and save specific waypoints as you explore. Essentially, Google Maps and ANGLR are a resource you should always include when planning your shoreline fishing adventure. Having your waypoints in the app will also save lots of time and energy in the future.
3) Pressured Summer Bass
At this stage of the year, a large percentage of bass move offshore and settle into main lake deep water summer patterns, but there will still be a solid population of resident bass remaining in the shallows. These fish have been around since the spawn and have seen almost every lure known to man. Wherever we find public fishing access, the fish will be even more pressured.
The best way to catch these bass in pressured fishing locations, is by staying back from the shoreline, while making accurate and realistic presentations. It also helps to make multiple casts past your target and retrieve up to your target, this will minimize splash and reduce the spooking of fish.
Also, pressured bass are easier to catch in the morning and the evening. Concentrate your efforts during those times to be more productive.
4) Throw the Right Topwater Lures and Baits
Many times when I’m out fishing shoreline cover in the summer, I find bobbers tangled inside mats of vegetation and even crankbaits wedged into lily pad stalks. These lures are not technically designed to be fished in heavy cover and were most likely lost because those anglers weren’t aware of better options.
With all of this heavy summertime vegetation, there are really only a few types of lures which can be presented properly from shore. Anything with open hooks or treble hooks are nearly out of the question in the thick stuff. But hollow body topwater frogs and hollow body mice on heavier line, are perfect for retrieving over the top of shoreline vegetation.
“Canopies of floating vegetation and lily pads limit our presentation options; effective lure choices become more crucial to success!”
With a floating frog or mouse, the hook points are typically pointed upward and toward the body; this makes for a very snag resistant topwater. Another one of my go to options is a weightless texas rigged stick worm on a 3/0 or 4/0 Owner EWG hook. This type of bait is technically classified as subsurface; but with a slim profile, it can be efficiently retrieved over surface vegetation.
The stick worm benefits are twofold:
First, it can be cast over cover and steadily slithered back over floating and emergent surface vegetation.
Second, the stick worm can also be stalled and quivered over openings and pockets in the vegetation.
I can’t even remember how many bass I’ve caught sliding a stick worm over the top of heavy cover, when hollow body baits weren’t getting bit. So, even though the stick worm might be unconventional as a topwater, I guarantee it will catch fish and reveal where they are positioned in the thick stuff.
In addition, these two lures can very effectively be used as follow up baits to each other.
5) Heavy Equipment for Heavy Cover
Proper equipment is very important when fishing heavy cover topwater lures from shore. Many hollow body frogs and mice are lost to hungry Largemouth because of line choice; and many rods and reels are broken because they can’t hold up under heavy cover situations.
So whenever the vegetation is matted or the lily pads are dense, I gear up with either medium heavy or heavy baitcasting equipment.
To be most effective with topwater frogs over heavy cover, a 7’ – 7’ 3” heavy rod with a fast action tip is a must. These beefy rods have the backbone to consistently maintain leverage when fighting heavy cover Bass.
When paired up with the a proper reel, the fish don’t stand a chance. My baitcasting reel of choice for this technique is a high speed aluminum frame design with oversized handles; preferably one featuring a carbon drag system and at least 12-18 pounds of drag. I also choose high quality 40, 50 or 60 pound test braid to allow for greater breaking strength and the lowest stretch possible.
For the Stick Worms I spoke about earlier; I like the same high speed reel and braid, but I typically cast them on medium heavy power rods for better casting accuracy.
These types of shoreline fishing combos, will provide all the power you need; and easily horse Largemouth bass out of the gnarliest cover.
While there is way more which goes into the process of catching summertime bass from shore; topwater frogs and stick worms are two tricks you should have in your bag.
So remember; be prepared, wear performance fishing apparel, schedule around the best times for success, gear up with proper equipment and don’t forget to use ANGLR and Google Maps, to gain a competitive advantage!