August is the dog days of summer, bass fishing can really get tough, and that can be frustrating. First off, you have to understand that you aren’t going to catch the big weights you did back early in the spring. I often tell people that March is my favorite month because you can catch a lot of fish, and the fish weigh as much as they’re going to all year.
But August isn’t a total loss. Fish are tough, but a lot of fishermen catch them in deep water on crankbaits and jigs. Late summer is when I go back to soft-plastic baits, because I think they produce better when fish seem to be a little hook-wary because of fishing pressure. And my favorite soft-plastic bait is a Senko.
A lot of people fish a Senko during the spring, then forget about it, but it’s a great producer during the summer. The last Bassmaster tournament I fished, in June, I caught better than 20 fish every day, and 90-percent of them were on Senkos. I didn’t get the bigger fish I really needed, but that’s because I wasn’t fishing in the right area — not because of the bait. In fact, Kevin Van Dam won the tournament fishing a bait that’s similar to the one I was using.
Fishing with a Senko during the late summer is different from spring because spring fishing is mostly Texas-rigged without a weight, or rigged wacky style. I fish Senkos Texas-rigged with worm weights during the summer, usually a 3/16- to 3/8-ounce weight. And I fish 6- and 7-inch Senkos, where I usually fish 4- and 5-inch Senkos in the spring. I don’t see many guys fishing a 7-inch Senko, but I have caught an awful lot of good fish on them.
A lot of fishermen fish a big curlytail or ribbontail worm during the summer, but I think a Senko has a little more subtle action, and it seems to me that in August, when fish having seen so many baits and hooks, and because they aren’t as aggressive because the water temperature is so high, that subtle is good.
My favorite color almost any time is green pumpkin, but during the summer, I like to fish black/blue flake; it seems to be a good summer color. I’ll fish it on a medium-heavy, Bass Pro Shops Carbonlite rod and a Johnny Morris Signature Series reel spooled with 12- to 20-pound XPS monofilament.
Most fishermen relate the size of the hook with the size of the bait, but hook size, to me, depends also on the action of the rod and size of the line you’re using. If I’m fishing a 6-inch Senko on light line and a medium-heavy rod, I’ll probably use a 3/0 to 4/0 VMC offset worm hook. But if I’m using a heavier rod and heavier line — maybe I’m fishing around a lot of brush piles — then I’ll go up to a 5/0 or 6/0 hook. You’ve got to remember that the action of the rod and the size line you’re using will determine how well a hook of a certain size works.
A big bait like a 6- or 7-inch Senko is called for during the summer because you’re usually fishing in deep water, and you need to get that bait down to the fish quickly. If you’re fishing around brush, you need a heavier bait to fall down through the brush to the fish; that’s why you see so many fishermen Texas-rigging really big plastic worms during the summer.
But another reason is the size of the forage. During the spring, bass see a lot of smaller baits and fry. Now that summer is here, a lot of the prey or forage has gotten bigger, so bigger baits work.
One last item about August. You’re not going to load the boat off one or two spots. Fish are as scattered out as they’re going to get all year. You have some fish that are still shallow, feeding around bluegill beds, and you’ve got some fish that are out deep on brush. So don’t expect to catch more than one or two fish on a spot. But if you’re doing things right, those one or two fish here and there can really add up to a good day.