Night bite heats up in July
I can’t believe I’m already writing about midsummer bassin’ on Toledo Bend.
The year is flying by, and it’s already time to talk about deep patterns that are effective in July.
In late May, the pool stage was 170.13 feet and falling slowly. It’s basically still high. And, yes, we already are in the dog days of summer. We went from spring to summer pretty quick.
Just when temperatures started to climb and more and more bass anglers began targeting deep water, two 10-pound plus bass were caught on crankbaits in 5 to 7 feet of water. My buddy Joey Lester of Zwolle reeled in one of them, an 11.52-pounder the first day of the Sealy Outdoors Big Bass Splash tournament — the only double-digit bass of the annual contest. The other bass was a 10.52-pounder brought into Toledo Town & Tackle caught during a night-fishing trip.
Lester, who hadn’t been on the lake for about three months, went to one of his favorite places and hooked his hawg about noon. It was a short strike with about 5 feet of line out, so imagine what that tussle was like.
I saw the other man’s lunker bass, and it was pretty.
That it was caught at night is a reminder night bass fishing can be good to great on this lake. I believe more double-digit bass caught after sunset will hit the scale this summer. Toledo Bend always has been a super, super nighttime bass fishing lake. I used to do that a lot but I got away from it. It’s certainly an option for people who don’t want to sweat it out on a hot, calm day.
Late June and July is prime time for the night bite. Fish the same general areas — ridges, main lake points, etc. — you fish during the day with black or june bug plastic worms, trick worms or Senkos. My first option would be a topwater, though; either buzzbaits or poppers or even plastic frogs.
Otherwise, there are a few ways to put bass in the boat during the day. What I like to do is fish in 12 to 14 feet of water under hydrilla that has matted and formed a canopy, where it’s two or three degrees cooler and bass and bream like to congregate. The water temperature’s hot, and just about right, but much of the grass I’ve been looking at hasn’t canopied. I’m ready to punch it with soft plastics — usually a June bug/red Senko — under a ½-ounce tungsten weight. I can do that 10 to 12 hours a day playing in the grass, with an outside chance of nailing some bass on a plastic frog.
Bassers up here can’t go wrong fishing ½-ounce, black/blue/purple or PBJ-colored football jigs in 12- to 14-foot depths. A lot of guys are catching bass that way on the main lake over ridges and drains. Crankbaits will work in those depths, too.
I’m still catching on Carolina-rigged soft plastics in and around peppergrass and eel grass with some plastic frog action. That pattern should hold true for the first few hours of the day in midsummer.
I haven’t seen any schooling action yet. When the shad move over the deep drains, it should fire up and provide some exciting bites.
The crappie fishing has exploded. It’s awesome, all my buddies say, as the slabs have moved onto the brushpiles in 20- to 25-foot depths, where they’re devouring minnows, and even crappie jigs. Most people are getting their limit before 11 a.m. We’ve lost some good bass sticks to white perch fishing — and you can’t blame them because it’s on fire.
Bream fishing success started up north, as usual, with plenty being caught shallow from Converse to Bison to 1215. Anglers are catching all they want.
Have a Happy Fourth of July. Be safe on the water, and catch some fish.
If you want to catch bass in July, I’ve been guiding on this lake most of my life and you’re more than welcome in my boat. Give me a call at (936) 404-2688.