An evening bass from Lake Champlain in Vermont. Joe Cermele

Sometimes in the summer’s blazing heat, especially around popular boating times like the 4th of July, all you can get pumped about is the few peaceful bass fishing hours in the early morning, and the few before dark as the recreational folks head back to the ramp. Even if you don’t have jet skis zipping around on your lake, that mid-day sun can be too brutal to make the day enjoyable Luckily, bass feel the same way, so there’s no shame in chilling out during the day, and saving your attacks for the low-light periods. Me? I prefer evening, and my choice bait is a walking topwater, but the lure isn’t important. Given that the morning or evening only presents a short attack window, how you present your lures during these times is what really matters. My strategy involves what I call working the “hard lines.”

The gist of the pattern is that because bass are in deep hiding during the hot, high-boat traffic days, I know they’re just waiting for the green light to roam from the shadows and feed. But at the same time, I know they won’t travel too far, so it’s important to intercept them as they begin to put their guard down, and they’ll often first get on the feed along “hard lines.” These lines could be anything from a fully grown and distinct grass line, a long marina dock, a long deep edge of a lily pad field, or an undercut bank with multiple overhanging trees. Basically, you have to imagine all the locations that bass choose to hunker down in during the day, and then draw an imaginary line about 3-5 feet out from them. That’s your casting zone where you want to keep your bait, and I do that by making a parallel—not head-on—presentation.

The other important factor with this is to not become complacent by simply continuing to mosey down the bank after you hit key areas. If you want your best chance at multiple big bites in a limited timeframe, work your way down a hard line, and then pick up and move to the next one quickly. Come up with a game plan of 3-5 highly productive lines, and don’t be afraid to hit each one twice before dark. Bass activity levels and curiosity levels change within a matter of ten minutes during a summer evening. It’s your job to have that bait passing by as those levels peak.