Fishing & Boating News

The Inside Scoop on Midsummer Bass

by: Ron Anlauf,

Pro guide John Janousek explains how to live large with big midsummer bass.
Photo by Ron Anlauf
(May. 21, 2010 - Braham, MN) When it comes to finding midsummer bass you better throw in a heaping helping of green weeds. They can provide everything an adult bass needs including cover that can hold plenty of baitfish, as well as nooks and crannies where bass can set up and fill their bellies. To a bass; that's about it, nice and simple! For an angler the challenge is finding the daily hotspots and giving them what they think they want.

Finding the ever changing hot spots is the big challenge and there are tools of the trade that can help shorten up the time between looking and finally catching. Search baits that let you cover water are a key to finding the biters and why professional guide and tournament pro John Janousekof Nisswa, Minnesota (1-320-630-3145) likes to use a blade bait: "With a spinner bait like Northland Tackles Pro-Series Reed Runner I can quickly work a variety of weed growth and find the active fish. I'll throw a 1/2 oz bait into the pockets and along the edges of reed banks, lily pads, and submerged weed growth like cabbage or milfoil and see if I can find any chasers. If the pads are sparse enough they can be worked with a spinner bait or buzz bait which will allow you to cover some water and is a good bet for finding active fish early in the morning or late in the day. To work the thickest pads I like to use a Jaw Breaker Spoon because it can be worked fast and will skip and hop when you it burn it in and can really turn fish on. You can also work it slow and even let it drop when it gets to an opening."

If the fast baits are getting ignored Janousek will slow it down and go back and work the high percentage spots like weed line points and inside turns as well as some of the less obvious: "I'll look for a deeper hole in the middle of a shallow flat which can create a deep weed edge, only on a much more limited basis." His black hole theory is also a good bet for finding fish that have been pushed off of shallower cover like after the passing of a cold front. One of his top tactics for nailing post frontal fish is to "dead stick" a weightless 5" Dip-Stick worm with a 4/0 hook. "I'll cast the bait into and along the deep weed edge and let it slowly sink and wait it out before lifting up the rod tip to see if anything has picked it up. If not; I might move it slightly or give it a shake and the then let it sit and wait, and wait. It's a painfully slow way to fish but it can be absolutely deadly, especially when the fish are a little sluggish." The deepest edge of the deepest growing weeds can hold big schools of midsummer bass and there's a number of great ways to make it happen: "The real key to locating the heaviest concentrations is uncovering the thickest and deepest growing weed beds. A good way to get it done is to start on the deep edge of the weed break, drop the trolling motor, and then work a shallow or medium running crank bait like a 1/2oz Rattle Trap or an DT 6 across the tops of the weeds. You'll know when you're in the thick stuff because you'll be constantly hanging up and you'll also see just what kind of weed you're dealing with. Besides all of the weeds you're probably going to run into a few fish (maybe quite a few), especially later on in July and definitely when we head into August. An even better and quicker way to take a thorough look at what's available is to employ the use of the latest technology including Humminbird's Side Imaging, which has proven to be incredibly effective. With Side Imaging you can get out off the deep edge and run parallel to it and get a real eye opener as to what it all looks like. You can also drop a waypoint on any likely looking spots (from up to 150 feet away) so you can go back and know you're on the exact spot. After you've found some likely hot spots you can go back and work it over with a more thorough approach, especially if the cranks are losing the battle. Finesse baits like Northland's 3/32 oz Lip-Stick Jig tipped with plastic worms are perfect for working the edges and pockets. If you're going in deep then a plastic worm or creature bait rigged weedless will be more effective." Eurasian milfoil is another story and requires a much different approach. Janousek on exotics: "Milfoil is dreaded by swimmers and recreational boaters but it's loved by bass, and is one of the key areas to finding larger fish. I'll look for patches of milfoil and then use a seven and a half foot flippin' stick and twenty pound test line to flip a heavy 7/8oz Jungle Jig tipped with a Slurpies Jungle-Craw Chunk into the mess and let it work through to the bottom. I'll let it sit and wait to see if anything picks it up. If not; I'll give it a shake and then wait again. The Jungle Jig has rattles which can attract fish and you have to give them some time to hone in and find it. Once you do get picked up; rear back and set the hook and hang on. It takes heavy gear like a flippin' stick and twenty pound test to get them out and is no place for finesse!"

Docks are another great option and the best ones will have decent depth underneath, which is an important key to finding the most productive docks. John likes to work the docks with a five inch Dip-Stick worm rigged weedless and without a weight and uses an open face reel: "The Dip-Stick is a great skipping bait without the weight, and with a spinning outfit I can cast it under a dock all the way to the back end and hit water that other anglers miss."

For Janousek; here in the Midwest uncovering the mother lode can mean fifty fish days or more and can make for some serious fun: "We've got the weeds and the bass, and most never see a bait. Although most of my guide time is spent chasing walleyes, I'm more than happy when my clients take the hint and we get after a bunch of hard fighting and high flying largemouth." See you on the water.

Ron Anlauf