During summer, largemouth bass on big impoundments usually hang out in deep, cool water where the oxygen level provides comfort. But another key to finding hot-weather bass is locating baitfish, usually threadfin shad, sunfish or small bluegills.
Bass often rise to depths where the water may be warmer than they prefer but contains submerged structure that provides shelter for baitfish. Bass must eat, and sometime during the day, they'll move to water where they can find a meal.
In early September, blowdown trees with their tips submerged in or near deep water often attract baitfish – and largemouths, and anglers who target the ends of blowdowns that hang over ledges or creek channels..
Because a blowdown will often hold several bass of different sizes, many fishermen use "outside-in" approach to lure presentation. Fish will position in a tree’s branches, often with the dominant fish staking out the cover closest to deeper water. Accordingly, the first cast should be toward the end of a submerged tree.
One productive technique is to cast Texas-rigged soft-plastic baits at one side of a tree, starting at submerged tips. Anglers also should work one side, then the other, basically to avoid hang-ups and spooking bass.
Boat position is important. Setting up to cast at a 45-degree angle toward a treetop is ideal. Most limbs and small branches grow off the trunk at that angle. Lures retrieved from the open end of that 45-degree angle have less chance to snag.
Medium-heavy baitcasting outfits are commonly used – but spinning tackle will work just fine – with reels spooled with 17- to 20-pound mono and an 18-inch leader of fluorocarbon. Bullet weights from 3/16- to 3/8-ounce are preferred so baits will sink slowly to the bottom.
When working a treetop, when an angler feels contact with a limb, most will pull the worm over the limb and let it drop to the next limb because bass often suspend at different depths, looking up for baitfish. They watch for and attack a falling plastic worm or lizard. Anglers should try to maintain contact with their lure by keeping slack out of the line as much as possible. Often, a line tick or jump will mean a bass has sucked in a lure, so that’s prime time to set the hook. If a worm stops its fall, that may indicate a bass has taken it in its mouth. The best idea then is to lift the rod tip to feel a fish, then jerk to cross his eyeballs.
It's a slow technique and hangups happen, but summertime means climbing through treetops for suspended bass.