Although mild in nature compared to last years scorcher, summertime is upon us here in North Central Texas. We have yet to see the thermometer blast through the 100-degree mark, even though it has been close a time or two. The days are long and hot, but the fish don't seem to mind too much. Several local anglers continue to catch fish, despite the uncomfortable summertime conditions.
Recently, one of my fishing partners, Benji Hohenberger, and I fished a couple of evenings out on our home lake, Richland-Chambers reservoir. Benji's boat was down, so we took my Ranger 461. We headed out of the ramp in search of a few bass hanging around some "humps and bumps" on the lake. This time of year, we usually catch larger fish rather than larger numbers.
Benji had been catching fish in 15'-20' of water on carolina-rigged lizards and crankbaits near old submerged pond dams and humps. Since it had been a while since I had been fishing, we went to some of his spots. The bites were few and far between, but we managed to boat a few decent fish ranging from 5 pounds and less. This is the most popular and successful type of pattern on this lake during the hot summer months.
The fish seem to hang out in deep water most of the day and cruise in to these areas to feed. There is no magic time of day. The fishing is sometimes slow and redundant, but for those anglers with patience, it can pay off. You might throw the same bait on the same hump two dozen times without so much as a thump, and on the next cast you might hook up with a double-digit fish. You just never know. The key is patience. Find a spot, look for baitfish to show up on your electronics and fish a while. Again, the key is patience.
Most of our fish came on carolina-rigged lizards. I caught my fish using the 7 inch pumpkin seed lizard by Kalin's. Even though the Kalin's lizards has scent and flavor enhancers built in, I like to dip the tail in chartreuse Spike-It for an extra flare of color and the garlic scent. Our fish on R-C seem to really go for the garlic scents, if you use them.
When carolina-rigging, I like to use a 6'8" carolina honey from Castaway Rods in a medium action rigged with Abu Garcia's new TP3000C reel. This high speed reel allows me to take up slack quickly, after a strike has been detected in order to get the hook set before the fish drops the bait. I also like to smoothness of the reel allowing me a great deal of distance when casting. Spooled with 20# P Line, it makes for a lethal combination when carolina-rigging. I like to use 15# P Line fluorocarbon leader during the summertime, since it is virtually invisible underwater, thus generating more strikes. If the water is super-clear, I will even go to 12# P Line. The high breaking point of P Line offers me the advantage of a high strength line, in smaller than normal sizes for carolina-rigging on this lake. This is a real plus for wary fish.
Another great option for these summertime bass are large crankbaits. I like to use Norman Lures DD22 or DD14. These are Norman's deep diving baits and they come in a variety of colors. I generally use the shad colored baits this time of year on a 7'7" fiberglass rod. Using a slow speed reel, I will use 10# or 12# P Line. I use the smaller diameter lines to help the bait gain as much depth as possible. I have also found it better to "dig" the bait down deep in the water and then slow down and vary the retrieve. Start – stop retrieves work really well, once the bait is down several feet in the water.
Lastly, if you are fishing dams and humps with cover on top of it, such as trees or brush, I like to use a large grub, like the Mogambo grub or a 10" worm. It may require several cast at the same target in order to trigger a bite. Often times, it is necessary to "doodle sock" a piece of cover to get bit. Doodle socking means to position the boat directly over a section of cover, lower the bait to the desired depth and just sit there moving it up and down. I know it doesn't sound like much, but believe me, sometimes it is the only way to get a fish to bite. I think it just makes them mad and they hit it. Nonetheless, give it a try if the fishing gets tough.
Now the biggie, where do you fish? Where are the humps and pond dams? Good question. The best I can offer is for you to either hire a guide or buy a good map. If you hire a guide, tell them what you want to learn. Make sure they are willing to show you what you are paying them to teach you. If you go the map route, get a good one and study it. Try to find a map that will identify oil well humps, pond dams and other humps for you. Ideally, you will find one with GPS coordinates on it to help you locate them. If not, spend some time looking at the map and planning out your day before you get to the lake. You only need 4-6 holes to fish, if you fish them correctly. Remember that the key to catching fish on R-C this time of year is patience. Find a spot to fish and fish it slowly.
Lastly, be extremely careful fishing in the summertime. The weather can change in an instant. Summertime thunderstorms bring dangerous lightening and often high winds with them. They can and will pop up from nowhere and you can find yourself in serious trouble, fast. Secondly, drink lots of water. Dehydration is a serious problem for fishermen this time of year. Take along lots of water, use sunscreen, wear light colored clothes and wear a hat or cap.
Give summertime bassin' a try. You might be surprised just how rewarding it can be.
Until next time, enjoy the Texas outdoors.