Early Summer Largemouth

by Bob Jensen  |

It seems like winter has just departed and some anglers are already thinking about catching bass in the early summer months.  June is near (or here), and some of the best largemouth bass fishing of the year is here or near also.  If you’re on the “right lake”, and there are a lot of “right lakes” scattered across the Midwest, you can catch a bunch of bass in shallow water in the coming weeks.  This is exciting fishing.  Often you’ll see a wake in the water as the bass approaches your bait, and much of the time you’ll see the bass smash your bait.  This shallow water action is fun, exciting, and visual: It’s just what fishing is supposed to be:  A good time.  Here’s how you can have a good time in shallow water.

When fishing in shallow water, it’s extremely important that you keep quiet.  Fish of most species can be pretty spooky in the shallows, and largemouth bass are no different.  You can’t be making noise when fishing the shallows if you want to catch fish.

The bass will be near the areas where the spawn occurred. Shallow water cover is necessary to hold numbers of bass.  That cover could be boat docks, trees lying in the water, pads, or reeds.  The bass will be moving around quite a bit, but they’ll almost always be near cover.

There are several ways to catch largemouth bass in shallow water, but my top 3 choices would be a swim-jig, a spinnerbait, and a plastic.  Here’s why.

A spinnerbait and swim-jig will enable an angler to cover water quickly.  The thought used to be that jigs were meant to be fished slow, and slow still works with jigs.  However, a swim-jig, something like a Strike King Tour Grade Swim Jig tipped with plastic, can be fished almost like a spinnerbait.  You don’t want to burn it, but worked in a swimming, lift/drop manner, you can cover a lot of water and catch a bunch of bass.  A swim-jig is like a spinnerbait without the spinner.

Traditional spinnerbaits catch tons of bass.  In fact, in stained water they’re still the go-to bait for many anglers.  The spinner throws vibration and flash and helps the bass locate the bait easier.  Use bigger and brighter blades in cloudy water.

Swim-jigs and spinnerbaits are good selections for covering water, but when you narrow down the area that the bass are using, a slower presentation with plastic will enable you to catch a few more fish.  Sometimes it works well to go through an area with the faster moving baits and catch the fish that will respond to them, then go back through the area with slower moving plastic.  You’ll probably catch a few more of the fish that were reluctant to take the fast stuff, but that will respond to a slower presentation.  Try rigging a Shim-E-Stick wacky-style, no weight, and fish it near cover.  If a bass is there, it will almost always eat it.

This is heavy cover, and that means heavy tackle.  With the spinnerbait and swim-bait, P-Line XTCB 50 pound test braid will enable you to get the fish under control.  I use the same line with the plastic when fishing heavy cover, but will go a bit lighter when fishing more open areas.  I like a flippin’ style rod. Lew’s makes several that are very appropriate for this style of fishing.

Fishing in shallow water for largemouth bass is exciting, it’s fun, and it’s productive, and right now, or very soon, the best time of the year for doing so will be upon us.  Take advantage of it.

Feature Photo: Mike Frisch with a swim-jig largemouth taken in shallow water.  Notice the rushes in the background.


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Early Summer Largemouth