For Yamaha Pro Greg Vinson, the best place to be bass fishing during the hot days of summer is up a river where current is flowing. The water movement will produce lower temperatures and increase the oxygen, two important factors that will keep fish more active and willing to bite.
“Staying in the main river on the far upper end of a lake offers another advantage, too,” adds Vinson, who calls the Alabama River near Montgomery his home water, “which is that the bass are much easier to locate. For the most part, they’re going to around cover or behind objects that break the current flow.
“If you fish the wide open water in a lake this time of year, the bass are likely to be suspended. They’re not only much more difficult to find, but also a lot harder to catch. Even if you fish a lake with a lot of vegetation, the bass still aren’t nearly as active because the water temperatures are higher than in the current.”
Initially, Vinson begins searching for river bass by casting to shallow stumps, logs, rocks, and any other shoreline obstructions that provide quiet water near the edge of the current. Typically, the most productive cover will be found on a bend in the river, because these often offer a quick depth change, as well.
“Debris including sand gravel and stumps, usually builds up on the inside, upstream portion of a river bend,” notes the Yamaha angler, “but the depth usually falls off quickly right behind the point. Both can be excellent places to fish, because bass have the cover on the upstream side to catch food washing by, and only have to move a short distance to be in safer, deeper water if they need it.
“If you like to fish jigs or plastic worms, these are excellent places to use them. Casting upstream allows the current to carry your jig down into the cover or the deeper water, and it looks completely natural to the bass. They’re waiting for foods to be washed down in front of them so all they need to do is move a few inches to grab it.”
Vinson also fishes small, shallow diving crankbaits and spinnerbaits in these situations, but even with these lures his casts are still upstream, or slightly across it so his retrieve still comes down with the current for a more natural appearance.
“Undercut banks are also good places to fish in rivers,” he continues, “and jigs and plastic worms are still probably the most efficient lure choices. Bass position themselves in these types of places because they’re out of the main current but still close enough to the water flow to benefit from it.
“The real key is again casting upstream so the current will wash your lure into those hiding places. Sometimes you can help guide it by moving your rod tip to one side, but be prepared to lose a few lures because there’s usually plenty of underwater brush along the shorelines, too.”
During the summer months, the Yamaha Pro actually likes fairly dingy conditions because this also helps push bass into shallow water. If the water is extremely muddy, however, Vinson may leave the main river itself and look for a backwater slough or cove. These won’t have the current he likes, but they usually provide clearer water.
“On most river systems, the backwater areas also have abundant cover, either vegetation or standing timber,” he explains, “and bass may gang up on a single piece of cover like a fallen tree, even when other choices are available. I know a tournament pro who caught 17 bass from one tree in river backwater, and when he went back the next day, he caught nearly that many again.
“One of the best ways to locate fish in places like this is to start by using a small buzz bait or spinnerbait that will draw fish to it for a strike. You may not hook those bass, but by striking they’ll give away their positions and you can then try with a jig or worm.”