Summer Fishing Adventure: The Bass Pro Trails

Photos by Rick Adair

Why should the pro fishermen have all the fun? It's high time you fish those fabled bass waters where big-money tournaments are held. We devised three bass trips, each featuring three of the country's best lunker waters where recent B.A.S.S. or FLW competitions have taken place. And to all but guarantee you won't get skunked, we asked pros who fished in the tournaments to share a surefire summer tip.

North

Tournament Site
Lake Erie, ­Sandusky, Ohio; B.A.S.S. Northern Open, Sept. 2013

Pro Tip
"Erie holds enormous schools of 3- to 5-pound smallmouths, and summer is prime time to hit the big lake's offshore rock reefs," Joe Balog says. "Drag a finesse worm on a drop-shot rig, covering the 12- to 35-foot depth range until you pinpoint the exact depth the school is using."

Tournament Site
Lake St. Clair, Detroit, Mich.; B.A.S.S. Elite Series, Aug. 2013

Pro Tip
"In summer, you can virtually pick your pattern on St. Clair," Chris Lane says. "Like fishing shallow? Slow-roll a spinnerbait over shoreline weedbeds. Prefer to fish deep? Drag offshore breaklines with a drop-shot rig. Partial to fast water? Probe the adjacent Detroit River with a jig. Also, don't be surprised if a monster muskie bites your lure."

Tournament Site
Lake Michigan, Green Bay, Wis.; B.A.S.S. Elite Series, June-July 2012

Pro Tip
"Big smallmouth bass will suspend 20 to 40 feet deep off sharp dropoffs and are suckers for a drop-shot rig," Jonathon VanDam says. "Largemouths will gravitate to grassbeds in sheltered bays and will smack a spinnerbait or a jig."

Southeast

Tournament Site
Lake Guntersville, Guntersville, Ala.; Bassmaster Classic, Feb. 2014

Pro Tip
"Summertime is grass-fishing time on Guntersville," Randy Howell says. "The frog bite is legendary on this lake, with scores of 8- to 10-​­pounders taken every summer on artificial croakers dragged across matted vegetation."

Tournament Site
Pickwick Lake, Florence, Ala.; FLW Central Open, May 2013

Pro Tip
"In summer, target trophy smallmouths in the fast water below the Wilson Dam with swimbaits," Randy Haynes says. "Or head north past the Natchez Trace Bridge to flip jigs in the grassbeds for lunker largemouths."

Tournament Site
Lake Chicka­mauga, Dayton, Tenn.; FLW Tour, June 2013

Pro Tip
"Lake Chick is currently the hottest bass venue in the country," Larry Nixon says. "Two local anglers recently boated five fish weighing 49 pounds. In summer, toad largemouths will school up on offshore ledges, and dredging a deep-diving crankbait or dragging a 10-inch worm on a Carolina rig will get your string stretched."

Map by Haisam Hussein

South-Central

Tournament Site
Falcon Lake, Zapata, Texas; B.A.S.S. Elite Series, March 2013

Pro Tip
"Yeah, it's brutally hot here in summer, but the lunker bite can be unreal," Keith Combs says. "Apply sunscreen, drink plenty of water, and target deep rockpiles and offshore humps with deep-diving crankbaits, football jigs, and plastic worms. The rule of thumb on Falcon is, if you're catching 4-pounders, move to another spot. The largemouth bass here are that big."

Tournament Site
Grand Lake O' the Cherokees, Tulsa, Okla.; Bassmaster Classic, Feb. 2013

Pro Tip
"Largemouth bass will stack up on offshore ledges in the 15- to 30-foot zone during the heat of midday, and can be taken on football jigs and big Carolina-rigged lizards and worms," Cliff Pace says. "The topwater bite is usually good around shad schools in sheltered coves at daybreak and dusk."

Tournament Site
Red River, Bossier City, La.; B.A.S.S. Central Open, April 2013

Pro Tip
"The Red runs through four states, but the section near Bossier City is unbeatable for sheer numbers of bass," Stephen Browning says. "Head for the murky backwaters early in the day and fish a buzzbait or surface chugger around isolated weed patches and laydowns. Once the sun gets high, move out near the main channel and crank, crank, crank."