Strategies – Late Summer

Strategies – Late Summer

Sep 9, 2014

Summer’s ‘50 percent’ rule

By Bill Dance

Eliminating unproductive water and zeroing in on productive areas as soon as possible should be every fisherman’s goal!

When fishing any water, large or small, finding a “depth pattern” is important. Finding the location of your target species in the water column helps narrow your bait selection, presentation and the areas you fish. On any given day, you might find bass suspended five feet deep, over 12 feet of water or holding right on the bottom.

One of the best ways for a bass fisherman to waste time on the water is to fish in areas and at depth levels that are oxygen depleted!

Like human beings, fish need oxygen to survive. We get our oxygen from the air we breathe, but bass receive their oxygen by filtering out dissolved oxygen (D.O.) from water that passes through their gills.

Contrary to the belief of many, bass on most lakes do not go deep in mid- to late summer but stay in the oxygenated upper layer of the lake.

I’ll take the top half!

One of the biggest misconceptions among fishermen is that bass go deep during mid-summer heat. True, on deep, clear, lakes where the thermocline sets up deep,  bass will occupy deep zones. But, generally speaking, the deepest areas of a lake do not have sufficient oxygen for species like bass after the lakes have stratified into temperature layers in summer.

If a small lake or pond has neither current running through it nor a manmade aeration system, that separation between oxygenated water and water with depleted oxygen will form at about 50 percent of that lake’s depth level.

That is, if a small lake is 20 deep, the strata will form at 10 feet  — 50 percent of the lake depth. If it is 30 feet deep, expect the divide at 15 feet. If only 10 feet deep, it will be about 5 feet.

In much of the South, this stratification takes place early to mid June; up North, later.

This “50 percent” rule means that the carrying capacity of the lake has been cut in half, too. Everything that matters to the fish takes place in the upper layer — all the phytoplankton and zooplankton, the insects, forage species along with the fish we are targeting live in this upper portion of the lake as a result of the low D.O. levels at the bottom.

Bluegill vs. shad lakes

Paying attention to details such as the forage species of the lake will pay off, too.

For example, if bluegill and crawfish are primary forage in a small lake, bass will hang near the shoreline primarily. But if shad are the predominant prey in a pond or small lake, you will find your bass on offshore structure or suspended over open water.

Now that doesn’t mean that bass will remain all day next to shore on a bluegill-based lake. They may move out to the middle of the pond for much of the day suspending in that upper level of water. You might find them near the banks only at peak times, such as early or late in the day or during a rain or a cloudy day or coming for short feeding sprees.

Keep the “50 percent” rule in mind during those summertime jaunts to your favorite bass haunts!



Rebel Tip

It’s important to fish this upper layer of water where fish are forced to live when the dissolved oxygen supply dissipates during the high heat, windless conditions of a steamy summer. Baits like the Rebel Pop-R family, the Rebel Jumpin’ Minnow, Rebel Bighopper and Crickhopper, and Rebel Bumble Bug target bass in shallow areas or high in the water column. Baits like the Rebel Minnow, FastracMinnow and TracdownMinnow along with the Rebel crankbaits catch between the surface down to roughly 10 feet deep.


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