Summertime fishing can be some of the best fishing of the year — if you play your cards right. No longer do I beat myself to death in the blistering heat, unless I’m in a tournament, or practicing for a tournament. I prefer to get on the water as early as possible and get off the water before the heat intensifies.
For trout fishermen, they either head up to the higher elevation lakes and streams where there is cooler water, or target kokanee first thing in the morning. It’s not uncommon to see them on the water before the sun comes up and off the water by 10 a.m. For bass fishermen, they can be seen fishing all day long. I prefer to be on the water as soon as the sun comes up and off the water around noon. If I’m fishing in the evening, I usually launch around 4 p.m. and fish until 9 or 10 p.m.
Many anglers don’t know why the fishing is good right before the sun comes up and right before the sun goes down. What makes it good is that there are fish that feed more at night than in the day and there are fish that feed more during the day than at night. By fishing those times of transition there’s a larger population of fish actively feeding.
Summer is the time of year where my season-long launch pass begins to pay for itself. Like the fish, once the sun gets high, I’m usually seeking shade. The secret has been out now for several years that bass during the summer are under the grass. Some anglers prefer fishing a topwater bait around grass and current, while others prefer to punch baits through the grass. I usually will fish a topwater bait like a Whopper Plopper or Snag proof Frog during the morning hours and switch to a punching rig during the day. For anyone who fishes the Delta, there is so much grass to fish, finding a productive spot can be like finding a needle in a haystack. I seek out the best spot that has grass either floating, on the surface, or subsurface. Those spots include ditches, points, wood, current or eddies. I’m also fishing with the lightest weight that I can effectively get through the grass with. My bait of choice bas been Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver. My favorite color has been the Big Texan. As far as topwater baits, I’m either using white or black. One of my biggest complaints with fishing Snag Proof Frogs is the hook up percentage. A lot of time the frog gets bumped or short struck. That’s why I prefer the Whopper Plopper over the frog unless the grass is too thick. In that case, I make note of where I’m getting blowups and return to those spots with a punch bait and often can catch that fish that attacked my frog earlier.
Fishing in the lakes this time of year is all about the kokanee. If you’ve never fished for kokanee, you’re missing out. Not only are they some of the best tasting fish you’ll ever eat, they are very plentiful in our lakes. Kokanee fight hard, and have very soft mouths, making them extremely hard to keep on the hook once hooked. It’s important to have a rod with a very soft tip. Kokanee primarily feed on zooplankton and other tiny aquatic animals the size of a pinprick. They’re also extremely aggressive and curious, causing them to be easily enticed by a passing lure. Most kokanee lures have two hooks on them, and they are also extremely scent driven. I used to put a piece of shoe peg corn on the back hook, but not anymore. What I learned was that the kokanee will key in on the scented corn and often strike that hook, making it complete sense to add the corn to the front hook instead. Since making that change, my hookup to catch percentage has improved.
Locating kokanee is pretty easy if you have a depth finder. They’re a cold-water fish, so they’re going to be as deep, especially as the sun gets higher. If you have a colored depth finder, they can be identified by how tightly they are grouped, and how much of the color yellow is visible in the arches or the group of fish. Kokanee are schooling fish, there’s no mistaking them. In a lot of cases, your whole screen is going to be lit up with arches, balls of fish and lines going everywhere. If you don’t have a depth finder, follow the fleet of boats that are most likely trolling for kokanee. Most guys will even share with what depth they are catching them if you ask nicely. If you’re still unsure, I’d say fish the main lake or where there are any main lake structures visible like a bridge or around the dam. That’s more than likely where the deepest coolest water is.
Lastly, get there early! The earlier the better, most guys are able to get their limits before noon as the action is always better in the early morning hours than mid-day.