FRANKFORT, Ky. – It seems Mother Nature just flipped a switch. It was jacket wearing cool just two weeks ago and now the daytime highs flirt with the 90s.
Summer fishing patterns are upon us. Although hot, the summer weather is a welcome relief after the spring of crazy weather we’ve had. We can finally look forward to stable water levels and predictable fishing.
Bass fishing now revolves around light, or the lack of it. The best times to sling a lure are pre-dawn to mid-morning, dusk and nighttime. You won’t find a better bass fishing spot during these times than a weedy farm pond.
Farm ponds make for great low-light bass fishing because they’re much easier to navigate than a huge reservoir. Target weed edges with a floating plastic frog or a Jitterbug in the pre-dawn, dusk and at night. A steady retrieve usually produces strikes, but switch speeds or pause the lure for a time if they don’t cooperate.
A weightless minnow-shaped soft plastic jerkbait is a good lure choice for low-light, but not dark, conditions in a farm pond. Rig this lure on an offset worm hook to make it weedless and cast it into fallen tree tops, brush or along weed lines. You can practically work this lure in place using short, quick jerks of the rod tip, driving any nearby bass crazy. You can also reel it over the top of weeds and into holes in the vegetation that often hold some of the bigger bass in a pond.
The lack of weight and weedless nature of this rig make it easy to work in a shallow, weedy farm pond. Light lures are the way to go, leave the Carolina rigs and ½-ounce jigs at home. A medium-power spinning rod spooled with 8-pound test line works great for this presentation.
As the days turn steamy and uncomfortable, fishing from mid-morning to early evening makes for a sweat-drenched, uncomfortable experience. You can catch panfish and the occasional small buck bass, but fishing in the heat of the day usually leads to frustration.
Head to the Lake Cumberland tailwater and wade for brown, rainbow or brook trout. Fishing the Cumberland River below Wolf Creek Dam in summer feels like you are surrounded by natural air conditioning. You’ll fish in waters that stay in the 50s and 60s year round and trout bite willingly the day long, no matter how hot the air temperature.
Since the drawdown of the lake due to ongoing repairs to Wolf Creek Dam, the water releases in summer calm down, presenting the best wading conditions on the river of the entire year. Still, the Cumberland can grow from a gentle flow to a flood-level torrent when the turbines in Wolf Creek Dam start churning. Check the predicted water releases at the Nashville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website at www.lrn.usace.army/recreation.htm and click on the “Fishing Information” tab and then the “Lake Cumberland” tab.
Also, you can find a detailed map of the Cumberland River below Wolf Creek Dam at the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources’ homepage at fw.ky.gov. After reaching this page, click on the “Fishing and Boating” tab, then the “Blue Water Trails” tab. This map features the major access points and floating mileages from Wolf Creek Dam to Winfrey’s Ferry.
You’ll likely need waders to wade the river because of the cold water temperatures, but many hardy souls wet leg the Cumberland during summer. A light-power spinning rod armed with small shad-colored suspending jerkbaits, a few in-line spinners dressed in white or red along with a couple of small silver casting spoons will put trout in hand.
Fish suspending jerkbaits over a rocky or pebble bottom across the current with a strout, erratic retrieve. If this retrieve doesn’t produce strikes, slow way down. After reeling to get the lure down, let the suspending jerkbait float downstream and gently twitch your rod tip every once in a while. Trout that ignored your lure earlier often hit this presentation, especially brown trout.
Cast in-line spinners and spoons at a 45-degree angle upstream and simply reel them back, making sure they give off lots of flash. Skill isn’t required for fishing these lures; their action draws strikes from trout. Keep them up off the bottom on the retrieve or they will get hung and lost. These lures will almost always produce rainbow trout and maybe one of the newly stocked brook trout.
Head to a farm pond at dark or the Cumberland tailwater on a weekend morning to escape this summer’s heat and enjoy bountiful fishing.