It’s hot. I’m tired of having to say it, but even more so tired of having to feel it. They say if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen. Well the exit must not be clearly marked cause I’ve been looking for the door a while now and the only thing I can come up with is to evacuate south central Alabama for the northern states where anglers are still plucking a few smallmouth off beds…while wearing hoodies none the less.
Though the thought of hitting the eject button on the south and heading north for a few months does sound tempting, it’s not a reality for me and likely not one for many of you either. So, we need to make the best of what he have to work with. Right now, for many of us across the country, the best way to do that is by targeting bass relating to bluegill beds.
Sure, there’s still a deep bite going on for a lot of us. But those fish have been out there a while now, and so have the anglers. The offshore bite gets harder and harder this time of year as a result of increased fishing pressure and boat traffic. But along the banks, bream and bluegill are spawning and there aren’t a lot of boats bothering them.
As you make your way down the bank, keep your eyes peeled for circular, light depressions in the bottom. They’ll typically be in groups of a half dozen or more and may be easy to spot if you’re fishing somewhere that has a fairly clean bottom just below a surface layer of silt. The sandy white circles stick out like a sore thumb areas like this.
Polarized sunglasses are key in allowing you to peer below the surface. And, if you’re fishing from a boat with the capability, you can actually spot the bluegill beds using side imaging as well. Your screen will light up with what will look like a bunch of tires laid out across the bottom. Those are the bream beds you’re looking for.
Nine times out of 10, bass relating to bluegill beds will respond well to one of two baits: a top water or a wacky rig. The bass are around these beds looking for an opportunity to pick one of the bream off. A topwater resembles and injured bream struggling along the surface. A wacky rig looks like a slow moving bream either injured or otherwise preoccupied with something else as it eases along. Both make for an appealing meal for a bass.
You’ll typically need to cover a lot of water when fishing this way, so it makes the most sense to keep a topwater in your hand until you come across an area with beds. If you don’t happen to see the beds first, you’ll naturally throw the topwater over top of them as you’re in search mode, hopefully resulting in a strike. But if you do happen to see the beds before you cast over them, it’s often a good idea to toss the subtler wacky rig in first. The worm is a more appealing and less aggressive bait for a bass, especially in super sunny conditions.
Low light and shade
If you are fishing in a lowlight situation, like dusk or dawn, or if there’s a good bit of shade present, you can stick with the topwater and the bass will usually light it up. What you don’t want to do is throw the topwater out into bright sunshine a bunch. Some bass will bite a topwater like this, especially if there’s a small school or wolfpack of bass running together. But you’ll find more often than not, that bass will come up and boil on a topwater out in the bright sun, not getting the bait good.
It’s hard then to catch the bass. They’ll hardly ever hit the topwater a second time. Sometimes you can throw the wacky rig in as a followup bait and draw a strike. But even that doesn’t work a lot of times. So remembering to target shade with a topwater and first cast the worm to any beds you spot out in the sun can greatly increase your hookup percentage when it comes to capitalizing on bites.
This is a match the hatch deal. You’ll want to pick topwaters and worms that have a similar color pattern to the prey you’re fishing around. Again, the bass in wolfpacks are extremely aggressive due to the competition in the area, and they would likely hit a sock if you tossed one in there. But for the loaner bass that is terrorizing a bluegill bed on its own, you’ll want to pick out something that closely resembles the real thing.
Green pumpkin and Junebug work well for the wacky rig. And then bluegill and bream patterns with greens, blacks and purples do a good job of matching the hatch with the topwaters. You might want to change this up if you’re fishing around bluegill beds in muddier water, as the baitfish will pale out in the mud. But anytime you’re in clear water (which will be the majority of the time fishing this way), you’ll want to stick with the natural colors.
If you’re tired of the offshore grind and want to see what the shallows have to offer, then you should hit the bank and put the trolling motor on high in search of bluegill beds. There will inevitably be a little distance between beds, but make the most of it by keeping a topwater in your hand and tossing it into any shade you see as you go along. Once you find a bluegill bed, work it over with a wacky rig first if possible. Then pick your topwater up and go again. It’s a fun way to fish and action packed at times.