By Marc Rogers
Bass Fishing Deep Water
With the surface water temperatures reaching their peak of the summer season bass will seek comfort in deep water. Once positioned in the cooler, oxygen rich water near the thermocline bass will generally not move far. Not moving makes their behavior more predictable and getting them to bite is the key to a successful day on the water.
There are still times when bass will exploit opportunities to feed on prey in shallow water. Sunrise and sunset remain opportune times for bass to feed shallow. However, the feeding period is short lived, making the window of opportunity for anglers also small. On lakes in the Midwest, catch rates remain the highest in deep water near cover. Lake of the Ozarks is a great example of bass positioning close to cover while remaining near the thermocline.
The most consistent bass anglers on Lake of the Ozarks, and similar waters, catch bass near 25 feet depths and close to cover. The thermocline is close to this depth throughout the summer on this lake. Lake of the Ozarks has very little natural cover in the lake and brush piles are the most popular cover. The most successful anglers have planted brush piles and know their exact locations. The most productive brush piles are submerged at the thermocline depth and near areas close to bottom changes – bluffs changing to broken rock, broken rock to pea gravel or main and secondary points.
On Table Rock Lake summer time bass fishing is productive presenting jigs and spoons to suspended Spotted (Kentucky) Bass. These bass will suspend at depths of 50 feet or more and again near cover. Table Rock Lake has an abundance of submerged trees left behind while the dam was being constructed and many of the trees tops sit near these depths. Main lake points are quite productive and once the depth the bass are holding is determined, the pattern can be duplicated all over the lake. Suspended bass in Table Rock Lake will move more that resident bass on Lake of the Ozarks but generally remain near the same depth when they change locations. The bass will follow a food source when they must and locating shad will alert anglers to the bass’ location.
Bass located on or near the bottom during the summer are susceptible to being caught when anglers slowly drag jigs and worms through the cover that is close to the same depth as the thermocline. Another productive technique is slow rolling a dark colored, single bladed spinnerbait in the same areas. The key to the spinnerbait presentation is moving is just fast enough to keep the blade spinning. In addition, many times bouncing a spinnerbait just a few inches off the bottom during the retrieve can produce big summer time bass.
For anglers who prefer throwing a crankbait, bass can be caught as well. Deep diving baits in dark colors have caught a fair share of summer time bass. Deep divers matched with 10 pound test line are ideal because the lighter line allows the crankbait to reach its maximum depth. Fluorocarbon lines will allow crankbaits to dive deeper because they sink where monofilament lines will float. The major drawback to this technique is when the baits get snagged deep in the cover and the light lines breaks off.
Dark colored crankbaits are sometimes difficult to find. To solve this problem many anglers will simply paint a crankbait black. A simple way of doing this is to remove the hooks and split rings, hold the lure by the rear hook attachment with pliers and spray paint the entire bait. Lightly scuffing it with sandpaper will help the new paint better adhere to the bait.
When searching for bottom cover the Carolina rig is ideal because the heavy sinker allows you to feel the bottom composition. When the sinker comes through brush and wood cover it is easy to distinguish it from rock or mud. In addition, the Carolina rig is the perfect technique to cover a lot of water, using soft plastic lures, close to the bottom.
Using these techniques will help anglers locate bass positioned in deep water. It goes without saying that locating bass is the key to a productive day on the water. Once you locate areas likely to hold deep water bass, use a variety of lures to entice them to bite and fish the area with determination. The resident bass do not move often and a high percentage area will replenish when some are removed.