I’m not going to kid you; August is a tough month to fish, just about the toughest of the year if you’re a bass fisherman, but you’ve got to fish tough.
It will be tough to fish on a lot of our bigger reservoirs in the Carolinas. Bass will be either extremely deep or extremely shallow, depending on water conditions. If we’ve had a lot of rain, they’ll be deep, because there will be plenty of oxygen down there. If we haven’t had much rain, they’ll move up looking for the water that has oxygen — but it will still be hard to get them to bite.
I have caught them as shallow as 10 or 12 feet and as deep as 30 or 40 feet, depending on where I’m fishing and the water conditions. On a lake like Tuckertown, where the water is moving all the time, you might catch fish 10 or 12 or 14 feet deep, out on structure. At Kerr or Gaston, where they don’t run the water much, they might be 30 feet deep.
Probably, your best choice is going to be going up in the river section of a lake, or back in the bigger creeks, looking to try and catch fish that live there all the time. You can fish more reasonable depths and baits and have a better chance to catch active fish. I remember fishing on Lake Anna in Virginia one time in August, catching nothing, then I went all the way to the back of this one creek and almost won the tournament, because I found some current and some active fish.
So if you want to make fishing easier, go up in the creeks or up in the river.
Here’s what you’re looking for: current. Water flow makes all the difference, because where the water is moving, fish are just more active. Usually, you won’t be able to find a whole lot of current, but look for it. You want to figure out, where is the current hitting? Is there more current in a place that a creek or the river turns?
One place that’s always good to take a look at is the spillway below a dam at the headwaters of a river that feeds a lake. Spillways are great choices in August, because you’ve usually got a lot of current up there, from the water being released through the dam into the river. The fish will be more active, but the key will be finding the one rock that holds all the fish. I don’t know why, but they will really get on places that aren’t much bigger than your tow vehicle. When you find ‘em, you can really catch ‘em.
In a spillway, you want to be looking for those current breaks. It might be one big boulder in the middle of the river, a hundred yards below the dam; it can be anything that breaks the current that a bass can hide behind, because they can’t live out in that current for any length of time; it’s so strong. You are looking for places where a bass can move 2 feet and be out in the current to feed, then move back 2 feet and be out of it.
Now, how to catch them. You need to fish a bait you can cover a lot of water with, because you’re searching so much, and because up in the river or in the back of a creek, bass really like moving baits. I will have a handful of crankbaits tied on, Berkley Dredgers and Diggers, baits with a wider action. I’m going to be looking for fish between 5 and 12 feet deep. If you’re up in a river where you have 20 feet of water, you might catch them in 14, but you’re not fishing the great depths you will down in the lake. You can catch a lot of fish in the spillway below a dam on a crankbait.
I’ll probably have a Dredger 14.5 tied on, because that bait is very effective between 8 and 12 feet deep. I’ll also tie on a Digger 8.5 or 10.5. I like those baits better fishing in the back of a creek. Sometimes, the fish want a bait with a little more of a tight wobble — which is the opposite of what you’d think — and the Digger fits that description. As far as colors, darker colors do much better in August. Your browns, chartreuses and gold, those are great colors in August.
I’m going to fish them on a Lew’s David Fritts Perfect Crankbait rod, either 7-foot or 7-foot-6. If I’m throwing to targets on the bank, I’ll probably be fishing the 7-footer. I’ll be using a Lew’s BB-1 reel with a 5-to-1 retrieve ratio; you get 21 inches back with each turn of the reel. Like I do when I’m fishing deep in a lake, I’m still going to be fishing 10-pound line, Berkley Sensation. Your baits are just so much more active on 10-pound line than heavier line.
So, if you’re going to be on the water in August, already fighting the heat, you don’t have to fight the extremely depths to catch fish. Go up in the river or in the creeks and find some moving water and catch some fish. And remember, fall is just over the horizon.