Start shallow, but best bite at Toledo Bend is deep

Try shoreline cover early or late, as long as you understand most fish are biting deep

It’s sometimes hard to get away from the shallow-water bite when you’re chasing bass, but in August, it’s almost a must at Toledo Bend.

Days with dark, cloudy skies and rain are favorable times to fish in 6 feet of water or less, especially if the lake level stays up through July and into August. Those are the weather conditions you want for a shallow-water bite. Otherwise, you’re best bet for pulling bass out of the shallower depths is very early and/or very late in the day around lily pad fields and scattered grass if you can find it — there’s some up north and in the back of some major creeks like Housen and Six Mile.

When the sun comes out blazing, and the water temperatures in the upper 80s and 90s, it’ll be time to probe 20- to 25-foot depths with soft plastics on Carolina-rigs and drop-shots, deep-diving crankbaits and jigging spoons. Modern marine electronics make it easier to find bass, but the key isn’t just finding a concentration of bass, it’s finding a bass in a school that wants to bite. I want to emphasize the importance of modern marine electronics. You’ve got to have them and know how to use them.

It’s pretty cut and dried in this scenario. Fish those depths of 20 feet or better, and look for points off humps and ridges, as well as drains and ditches in original creeks like San Miguel, Indian Mound, Housen, Six Mile and Mill.

Night fishing

Or you can plan your late-summer trips between sunset and sunrise. Toledo Bend has been a good night-fishing lake for years, especially for the past decade. The best time to fish after dark-30 is during the full moon in August. Other than that, the best times to fish in the dark are two or three days before and after the full moon.

The opportunity to catch quality fish and quantities of fish is very good after dark. The chance is multiplied by the widespread construction of docks and piers around the lake. Plastic worms, topwaters, square-bill crank baits and glide baits can trigger bites at night.

When I get on the water as the sky lightens up, my first stop more than likely will be shallow, 6 feet deep or less, preferably around lily pads and scattered grass beds. I was catching fish up north into July, but the deadly sprayers on the Texas side targeted greenery in the region, so it remains to be seen how that pans out. Heck, lily pads and other vegetation were sprayed early this year in the back of Housen, and there’s still a tremendous amount of lily pads there that are trying to make a comeback.

A lake level of around 170.75 is high water, in my opinion, so there is still water in the bushes and the shoreline stuff. That cover, as much as scattered grass and lily pads, is tailor-made for a shallow-water bite on plastic frogs, topwaters and bladed jigs like Delta Lures’ Thunder Jig.

Lily pads

Bass get under lily pads and can be caught on your favorite plastic frog and Carolina-rigged soft plastics. If they’re stubborn and don’t want to chomp on those, try flipping or pitching, especially with a Toyko-rigged soft plastic like a Speed Craw, trick worm or plastic worm. The Tokyo Rig is proving to be a major player on Toledo Bend.

What color for soft plastics? Redbug, plum apple, junebug and junebug/red are the choices every summer. 

Offshore, I’ll rely on a Carolina-rigged soft plastic, specifically a 7½-, 8½-, 9- or 10-inch plastic worm. If that doesn’t trigger the bites I’m looking for, I’ll put a 4-inch Senko on a drop-shot and feed them that. Other artificial lures that can get deep bass to open their mouth are jigging spoons and deep-diving crank baits.

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John Dean
About John Dean 54 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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