B ACK IN EARLY SPRING anglers and fish were looking for water a couple of degrees warmer. In August, flip that last sentence. Anglers and fish are looking for water a couple of degrees cooler.
No matter what bay complex you are targeting, you should climb out of the boat, or prowl the surf wading, looking for fish.
“I love wade fishing in August because it’s a lot cooler,” says guide Tommy Countz. “The fish are hot too. They don’t move around as fast, don’t strike like it’s spring.”
If you work with lures, go small and slow your presentation way down. You don’t want to move around too much when it’s blistering hot. Trout probably aren’t going to savagely inhale your presentation. It’s going to be more like they are softly checking it out. The successful saltwater angler needs to learn how to feel a fish on the line.
“You have to be able to feel the fish pick the bait up, feel that he’s there,” explained Countz. “I’ve never been a bass fisherman, but I have heard bass people talking about watching the line move. That’s the technique I use in August—looking for line movement, feeling the fish on the other end.
“Once I see the line moving, I’ll slowly crank the line down until I feel the fish. If I feel the fish, I’ll pop him. Normally, if you wait a little bit and don’t get in a big rush, you’re going to have more hook-ups than using the old bass fishing technique where you try to cross their eyes on the hook set.”
One of the structures Countz checks out in August is grass beds, submerged grass beds. He throws a 1/16-ounce jig head because it allows him to feel the soft bite, and he can work a soft plastic slowly through the grass beds with fewer hang-ups.
“The fish will be in the grass beds more so than feeding around in the upper water column. You see the grass beds as big dark spots in clear water. I’ll fish each individual bed. A lot of times you will pick up some good fish.”
If you’re fishing from a boat, Countz recommends looking for deeper reefs, especially early in the morning. “Drift the reef. If no fish bites circle back around and make another drift. Don’t try to run through the middle of the reef.
“It’s pretty tough catching fish out of the boat in August. You’ve have to cover a lot of ground to get some fish, my least favorite way of fishing.”
Downsize the choice of baits for August. The smaller topwaters such as the three-inch Zara Spook Puppy seems to work much better. In soft plastics the straight-tailed MirrOlure Li’l Jon, 3 ¾ inches, fished with a 1/16-ounce lead head is a good choice. “They seem to work better than the paddle-tailed bait,” said Countz.
“You can throw the heck out of it, like a bullet going through the air. You can throw a long distance. It’s real erratic as you work it through the water.”
Color choice in MirrOlure or your favorite soft plastic is whatever you have confidence in. As guide Bill Watkins always says, if you get the bait in front of the fish and he’s hungry, it doesn’t matter what color it might be. Countz goes along with that reasoning. “I think 90 percent of the time, the fish don’t care what color the bait is, as long as they are hungry. The other 10 percent of the time they won’t eat anything but a certain action bait, or certain color. You have to be ready for that. I normally will fish the same color of bait the entire day.”
If Countz has to choose a color, glow/chartreuse tail is one that he ties on, but he adds the fish also seem to like the watermelon color. If he wants to go with a darker lure he goes with a purple demon/chartreuse tail.
His “go to” color is black. In clear water it shows up good; in dirty water it shows up good. “Day in and day out it’s hard to beat a black bait with a chartreuse tail.”
The biggest takeaway for August is slow down the retrieve on whatever bait or lure you toss. “Feel the fish before you set the hook.” Wading is one way to help to dampen the heat.
Email Tom Behrens at [email protected]