So Many Lures—So Little Time

Freshwater fishing in August is very much like chasing many of the saltwater species. The bass are most active during the coolest portion of the day, and also during rainstorms or overcast skies when the temperatures are moderate. You also find the fish focused on the food sources, which this time of the year means shad, because the shad that hatched in spring are now anywhere from three to six inches in length and the perfect meal.

On just about any lake in the middle of the state you’ll find the fish holding tight to the grass right now. Most of that stuff will be in shallow water, but there’s also a good concentration of fish in the deeper, cooler waters, particularly during the middle of the day. So on most of the larger Florida lakes there are two bites that take place: the dawn shallow water grass bite and the dawn offshore shad bite.

Good Vibrations

The key to bass fishing in August is to be on the water before dawn, fish hard until 9 or 10 am, then head back to the ramp for a siesta in the air conditioning. Bass feel the summer heat the same way we do, and they avoid it the same way we do—by spending time in the shade. That means hiding under grass or moving deeper into the water column where the light doesn’t penetrate.

If you look closely at a largemouth bass, you’ll notice a distinct lateral line running down the side of its body. That lateral line senses temperature variations as well as vibrations, and when it comes to making a bass striking mad, there’s nothing that works better than a bait that sends a lot of vibration into the water column.

Spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, buzzbaits and topwater plugs top the list of lures that send a lot of vibration through the water column, but the hottest baits in Florida for the last three or four years have been the frog-type soft baits that you reel across the surface as they cut a wake through the grass.

Frog baits like the Bass Assasssin Logger Toad are just deadly on bass, but you really have to use the right gear for the baits to be productive. Because you’re casting to the densest weeds and often hooking large fish, you have to expect to lose some fish or have a few pull off the hook before you can get to them.

To combat the heavy weeds and grass, go with 50-pound braided line like Sufix, which is strong enough that a big fish wrapping it around 10 pounds of grass won’t be able to break it. Match that to a 7½-foot medium heavy-to-heavy rod and a high-speed bait-casting reel and you’re good to go. The longer rod length will improve your casting distance, while the faster retrieving reel will allow you to give the legs of the bait action while casually reeling it through the grass.

Give ‘Em the Right Hook

There are lots of hooks on the market, but you want a hook that won’t straighten out with the heavy braid when a bass is locked into the weeds—something like the 3X strong VMC wide gap work hook in a 5/0 size. Rigged weedless with the Assassin Logger Toad, the entire rig can be cast into the middle of large grassy areas and then the frog is reeled on the surface across the potholes. The strikes are spectacular.

Another option is to fish top-water plugs like the Rapala SkitterWalk or Skitter Pop, and cast to the open holes in the grass or the outside edges of the grass lines. The tough part here is that you can only pick individual little open areas to fish and don’t cover nearly the water as with the weedless frog baits, but this is a very effective August pattern, and one you can us around shad schools as well.

Speaking of fishing the shad, you want to keep an eye peeled for diving seagulls. They will often show you where the bait schools are holding. Shad will dimple the water on calm mornings, and larger shad will snap or pop the surface. The sound these fish make when they break water is what the bass home in on. A lot of times schooling fish that run one to three pounds will lock onto a school of shad, surround the school and just go to town. The fish are just frenzied and feeding, and that’s when you catch two fish on one lure.

You’ll sometimes see the bass busting water as they feed on the shad or hear them blasting the school; when that happens, you need to get a cast to them quick, because it won’t last long. Shad-type baits like the Rapala Crankin’ Rap, Shad Rap and the Rattlin’ Rapala are all deadly in this scenario. You can also throw top-water plugs and do extremely well.

Fish feed ravenously on shad schools, fill up and then rest all day, so you have to watch for the feeding frenzy, get in on it and then move on. Using a run-and-gun type of fishing, you can really clean up on the summertime bass in Florida.

Tight Lines and Good Fishing,
Captain Rick Murphy