School is in session

Use topwaters to put schoolin’ bass in the boat

It’s shaping up to be a different kind of August for bassin’ on Toledo Bend.

Different in a good way, in my opinion. Unless officials pull the plug and the lake drops like a rock between now (the last week of June) and the first day of August, the level could be almost full pool and that opens up some other things to do in the dog days of summer, at least for the first two or three hours of a day of fishing. It’s at 171.76 feet today, nearly full pool.

I love it like it is right now. It’s picturesque, for sure. Plus, there’s more shallow water action. I really don’t see a dramatic change in August, with the probable exception of more action over structure in deep water.

And I do anticipate the schoolin’ bass activity to heat up. As of now, as far as I know and based on reports, it isn’t happening. I know it will if the lake falls some because those drains in the middle and back section of coves and creeks will get shallower and the bass and shad will pull out and move to deeper drains, where the bass will push shad to the surface and BAM, schoolin’ bass action will be hot and heavy. Even though it’s getting a later start, I just hope it’s like last summer when 2- to 4-pound bass would come up and stay up.

Before I share some techniques to put those schoolin’ bass in the boat, I want to share a story about a guide trip I enjoyed a few days ago with a man and his 14-year-old son who are from the Beaver Lake area in Arkansas. First of all, they loved the looks of this beautiful lake shared by Louisiana and Texas.

We got out about an hour-and-a-half later than preferred but all was good. We started out with topwaters, walking the dog, and they caught half-a-dozen in the first 30 minutes, which also was good because it was after the prime time bite. Then I moved to flippin’ hydrilla, then made a move to the back, then closer to the front about 11:30. I said ‘Dad, stay with that topwater.’ His first cast, he caught a 3 ½-pounder. I’m punchin’ and nothing. He caught another one, about 2 pounds. And more like that.

About 2:30 and two spots later in a spot with water over hydrilla and peppergrass, the teenager casts the topwater and hooks up with a hawg I’m estimating at 8 or 9 pounds because we all got two great looks at the beautiful bass. Unfortunately, the youngster didn’t have the fishing rod capable of handling that big girl when she eventually buried in the grass and he lost it.

So that was some awesome action on topwaters throughout the day. What I’m trying to say is, it’s a summer month… I don’t see chasing anywhere… and I don’t get a punch bite. But the topwater bite was on pretty much all day long — 17 bites. They got a good taste what Toledo Bend is all about. And it goes to show you, during these dog days of summer, with the high water over the hydrilla, that offers more opportunities.

If it’s still high in August, during the first two or three hours of daylight, for sure, spend some time throwing walk-the-dog type baits — I’m using Egret’s Zombie Ghost Walker, a small, shad-colored model — or chuggers like Pop-Rs. If you can endure the heat, you can catch fish.

That Ghost Walker was the main bullet last year for the schools of bass that gave everybody so much pleasure and should be again, providing it happens. I’m thinking the schoolin’ bass action will intensify significantly from now to then.

There’s more to August bass fishing opportunities. It’s also a time to probe the 22- to 25-foot depths. That’s one reason I just put on a new Lowrance HDS-12 Gen-3. I’m proud to say Lowrance is one of my sponsors and their marine electronics — I’ve got side imaging, 3D, you name it — will play a vital role in finding bass deep in August.

Drop shotting more than likely will be the No. 1 technique for deep bass on structure. Also try deep-diving crank baits.

I prefer to put a 4-inch Slug-Go, shad-colored, on my drop shot rig. Others use a 5-inch straight tail finesse worm in red bug or june bug/red. I’ll rig it up with a barrel swivel and a bell sinker, one of those sinkers with a brass eye at the top, and come up about 18 inches above that, make a palomar knot and put a simple 2/0 straight shank worm hook on it. You can use a 1/0.

Crappie fishing remains good to excellent. Folks are limiting out before 11:30 a.m. fishing with shiners over sunken brushtops situated in 22- to 25-foot depths. This always has been a good crappie lake and it’s proving it now.

If you want to catch some schooling bass on topwaters, or hook ‘em on plastic frogs or other artificial lures in August, I’ve been guiding on this lake most of my life and you’re welcome in my boat. Give me a call at (936) 404-2688.

About John Dean 82 Articles
John Dean has been guiding on Toledo Bend most of his life. If you’d like to join him on a trip, give him a call at (936) 404-2688.

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