Photograph by Eric Engbretson
By late summer, bass fishing is not for the faint of heart. Largemouths are often deep and lethargic, and they’re also frequently starting to relocate and suspend at middepth ranges as forage begins to move. This is when professional anglers start following the ABCs of summer fishing. • “The ABCs stand for aquatic vegetation, bridges, and current, three shortcuts to finding fish,” says veteran tournament pro and Lake Fork guide James Niggemeyer. “In summer, bass need shade, cover, oxygen, and food, and the ABCs always provide that. In addition, aquatic vegetation and bridges have depth changes close to cover, and current in the back of a creek attracts bass from other areas.”
WHY BASS LIKE IT: Hydrilla, lily pads, hyacinths, and other greenery hold forage such as crawfish and sunfish and provide cover, shade, and higher oxygen.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Edge irregularities, especially depth changes; brush, logs, or rocks with the vegetation; isolated patches of greenery.
TECHNIQUES AND TACKLE: Skitter floating frogs over the top and through openings; flip tubes and jigs into open holes; run shallow crankbaits along the outside edge. Use 50- to 65-pound braided line for frogs and tubes; 12- to 20-pound fluorocarbon for square-bill crankbaits.
WHY BASS LIKE IT: Cover, shade, and abrupt depth changes are always present; nearby rocks often hold forage.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Brush lodged on the upstream side of pilings; current breaks behind pilings; baitfish around pilings.
TECHNIQUES AND TACKLE: Bulge a fast spinnerbait parallel to abutments and pilings nearest the channel first. Cover the brush at upstream pilings with a crankbait; hit the downstream side of abutments with a drop-shot rig. Use 8- to 16-pound fluorocarbon line (it sinks).
WHY BASS LIKE IT: Moving water produces higher oxygen, washes in food, and usually creates cooler temperatures.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Eddies and protected calmer water; rocks, small islands, other visible cover like stumps or logjams.
TECHNIQUES AND TACKLE: Cast light jigs, plastic grubs, or Texas-rigged worms upstream and let current carry them into quiet eddies. Work small buzzbaits across calmer areas, especially in early morning. Use 12- to 16-pound fluorocarbon
for strength and low visibility.