In case you haven’t noticed, the late summer heat has really turned on over the past several days.
And then some, I might add, as temperatures soar up near 100 degrees and the heat index goes even higher, prompting heat advisories in recent days from the National Weather Service.
What does all of this mean? Simply this, that the so-called dog days of late summer are finally at hand.
While weather prognosticators indicate a pattern change — and some relief from the near triple digit heat — may be on the way over the next several days, it’s likely to stay pretty warm for at least another few weeks.
But that doesn’t mean that bass anglers should toss in the proverbial towel until fall’s cooler weather arrives, especially if they will follow the advice I got this week from one of the better bass anglers that I know on the big lake, Denison’s Chris Bobo.
First of all, if you’d like to catch a Texoma largemouth, smallmouth, or spotted bass during the dog days of late summer, then Bobo says not to punch the snooze button on your alarm clock.
“You want to be out there early enough to capitalize on the early morning topwater bite,” he said.
While that idea is true from the crack of dawn until sunup, savvy anglers will also extend that topwater bite potential by targeting early morning shady spots on the two-state reservoir.
“Bass will position themselves according to shade and the availability of bait serving as their food source,” said Bobo.
“In the morning’s first hour or two of sunlight, it is easy to locate and single out those shaded banks, or shady spots that are provided by some sort of cover,” he added. “Target these spots with a topwater bait while bass are feeding during those morning hours so that you can capitalize on the frenzy.”
The Denison angler’s second tip is to target boat docks, as well as other shady spots that bass can swim under, places that can include floating marina structures, tire reefs, and bridges.
“Chances are when the sun gets high each morning, the bass will seek out some sort of surface cover to shield them from the overhead sun and to hide them in the shadows where they can easily ambush prey,” said Bobo.
How do you fish such spots?
“I have two styles of fishing that I enjoy using in this scenario,” said Bobo. “First, I like to use a swim jig since it does well with mimicking the bait(fish) and can be fished shallow or deep.
“My second approach is to throw a weightless finesse worm,” he added. “This subtle technique is good with a finicky bite that can quickly develop as the sun gets up higher.
“Toss the weightless worm out and let it fall, or dead-stick its way to the bottom. Then keep slack in your line and watch for the line to jump when a bass pounces on it.”
For a third tip, Bobo turns to his bread-and-butter routine for Texoma bass.
“I’m a Shaky Head fishing machine,” he said. “This bait works year round, especially in the late summer when you encounter lethargic bass.”
For those unfamiliar with the Shaky Head set-up, there are a number of stories and videos out there at places like WorldFishingNetwork.com, Bassmaster.com, and BassResource.com. All you need to do is Google up the phrase “Shaky Head bass fishing tips” and you’ll soon be in business.
In general, a Shaky Head setup is a straight tail plastic worm (natural colors for clear water, darker colors for stained water) added to a lightweight round-ball jig-head somewhere in the 1/8-ounce to 1/4-ounce size range.
Shaky Head rigs are finesse presentations, so you’ll want to opt for a fluorocarbon leader (six to 10-pounds) tied onto a spinning rod-and-reel setup that is spooled with small diameter braid. Occasionally, some anglers will also fish the technique on a baitcaster, tying the Shaky Head to the end of straight fluoro.
After getting a Shaky Head rig set-up, you’ll typically fish it around docks, rocky points, submerged cover and from the shoreline out to 10-feet of water or so, places that might hold a summertime bass sluggishly passing the time.
Simply toss it out, drag it back and occasionally shake it for a second or two so that the rig can live up to its name and draw the attention of a brooding bass.
Where does Bobo fish his Shaky Head rigs? “I enjoy targeting Texoma’s main lake points with this bait and I’ve had much success with it there,” he said.
For a final late summer Texoma bass fishing tip, Bobo says to forget the stuff up near the bank and go offshore.
“When you target deeper fish on Texoma, look to the main lake points, deep channel swings, and deep isolated cover such as brush piles,” he said. “The deep bite has been there for awhile now, and chances are that a large portion of the lake’s bass population are located there now.”
As is often the case on other deep-water structure fishing lakes — Lake Fork and Lake Ray Roberts come to mind — Texoma’s deep water bass will at times group up in the late summer.
Meaning that if you find the mother lode of offshore bass, odds are, you might be able to catch a good number before the school turns off.
“I like to target these deep water bass in late summer with either a deep diving crankbait, a football jig, or — you guessed it — a slightly heavier version of the Shaky Head,” said Bobo.
It can take some work — sweat equity as the saying goes — to find these offshore bass, necessitating that an angler pay careful attention to the bottom contour and structure on the lake as well as searching for evidence of fish showing up on an electronic graph.
But the payoff for such exploration is the sweet sound of line straining to escape from a reel as a hefty Texoma largemouth or smallmouth bass pounces on a lure and puts a serious bend in an angler’s graphite rod.
Bringing a Texas-sized big smile to the face, even as the angler wipes away the late summer sweat pouring forth from his brow.