2013 marks my first full year back fishing Florida largemouth in many years and this summer is proving to be a challenge far beyond what I’d expected. My spring time hawgs turned into summer time blogs in a hurry. And from what I understand there’s two more months of this malaise.
In the cooler months I fish the Central Florida lakes of Lake Harris, Little Lake Harris, Lakes Eustis, Dora, and Panasofkee. Typically these are top notch fisheries boasting easy access, large stringers, and usually one good beast every couple of trips. You can toss spinnerbaits, lipless crank baits, Texas rigged worms, Carolina rigs, you name it, it will likely catch. In other words, it’s a little misleading and can falsely increase your sense of how much you really know about bass fishing in general.
The summer months however are loaded with challenges. The typical air temperature by midday is 90 degrees. The typical water temperature by midday is 84 degrees or more.
So for typical survival sake, the fishing is targeted at early mornings for two or three hours, late afternoons for three or four hours and, for the more daring, night fishing on bodies of water you know well enough to navigate safely.
It’s deep water one day, shallow the next. Rain patterns, runoff areas, murky water patterns, one-fish-all-day patterns and, of course, no-fish-all-day patterns.
But above all else, it’s a mind challenge and a time-well-spent-chance to learn new tactics, narrow down and improve opportunities, and log everything and anything you do.
Typically I'd blast off to one of “my spots”, work it for a while, have nothing good happen, and move on. I did this time and time again, up and down the lakes. Earlier this summer I probably went through three times more fuel than necessary fishing all the wrong spots with all the wrong techniques for all the wrong reasons. The fish may have been there but I was not thinking like them at all. I expected them to do as I wanted and not as they needed. We were perfectly out of sync.
Once this reality hit me that I was essentially fishing “clueless” and my efforts were good for the oil companies and not my bragging rights or serenity, I started a new approach. I visited area bait shops and asked for help. I read anything and everything I could about “Summer Bassing” in Florida. I challenged the internet and found GOOGLE has myriad offerings on the topic by talented pros.
I found myself actually thinking I might still, at age 66, be teachable.
I started my own detailed trip logs that show times, GPS locations, in some cases photos, conditions, moon phases, bait presence, and what I tried and for how long. If I caught a fish I logged its size, what and how it hit, the equipment, and any other details I could muster. If I was fishing 10 pound mono instead of 20 pound Fluorocarbon it was noted. If it was a one eighth ounce bullet weight instead of a quarter ounce, I recorded it. I also stopped trying to convince myself that I knew it all.
I’ve always been a big fan of flipping heavy cover. It's possible to make your largest catches during the hottest part of the day. I’ve been putting my boat in spots I’d normally not even try and working the area as though I absolutely know there’s a fish in here. I genuinely believe that attitude and confidence are KEY to newly learned tactics.
If I fish a top water in the morning I totally imagine what that bait would look like if it were wounded and what would make me go after it if I were that bass. And, believe it or not. It works.
I’m going slower. I’m working smaller areas harder. I’m truly going through my decision making process for location, bait, and tactics as though I have something to prove to the fish. I am in charge. Do you hear me?
Of course I still get skunked here and there and, of course, I still come home frustrated. But I also come home with newly found information about these fish that make me spend countless hours and dollars in their pursuit.
Now if it would just cool off……