WHEN THE MERCURY approaches or even surpasses triple digits, Texas bass can go into a funk. Just like during the coldest periods of the year, they’re effectively shocked into inactive, and they feed only when necessary.
For many of us, that means finding them on deep offshore structure where they’re less likely to be affected by the heat. But sometimes it pays to go to the opposite extreme.
That’s a solution that Pete “The Dean” Gluszek, one of the founders of The Bass University, realized as he traveled the country during the hot-weather months. He noted that many of his competitors ventured into the tributaries, but found their midsections to be a dead zone. If only they’d gone a bit farther, they might’ve hit the motherlode.
“One of the things that I do in the stinking heat is to look for cool running creeks,” he said. “During the dog days they can be five or ten degrees cooler than the rest of the lake. That draws in bait, and bait draws in bass.”
He finds likely candidates by looking at Google Earth, his GPS or even a paper topo map and identifying longer tributaries that meander through wooded or rocky areas.
“Short creeks don’t do it,” he explained. “They need to drain a decent watershed. It has to be really hot for this to work. Air temperatures in the eighties won’t do it.”
Once he’s identified some likely candidates he’ll start a milk run, not bothering to look anywhere until he gets to the extreme end. Once he arrives, the first sign is visible on his temperature gauge. “If it’s increasing, it’s not going to be a draw,” he said. After that, the next sign is often that “life appears out of nowhere. You’ll see baitfish flipping. You’ll see bass cruising. Those are the kind of explosive conditions that I’m looking for, where all of that biomass is in one area. All of the life will be stacked up in the back third or back quarter.”
When he finds those conditions, a variety of baits and presentations will work, but The Dean keeps it simple. One favorite is a Rapala Cover Pop, or any aggressive topwater that “pulls fish out. Those fish are cruising around with blind eyes. They’re inactive or weird, so you need to generate a reaction strike.”
If that doesn’t get them to fire up, he’ll turn to finesse, and usually that means a simple soft plastic stickbait. Of course, lure colors and other options may vary depending on cover, water color and the forage that’s present.
These fish will be more active than those that dwell in hotter sections of the lake. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be indiscriminate about what they eat. The good news is you’ll often have them to yourself. You can Power Pole down and rotate through options until you find the right one. Alternatively, you can rest them for a period of time and return when they’ve had a chance to settle down.
Once you’ve found this to be a viable pattern on a hot August day, it still takes some work to find the key areas. “Most creeks won’t run cool,” Gluszek said. “It’s a low percentage deal. Out of 10 that you identify on a map, maybe two or three will be good, but the ones that are, can be a bonanza.”
Email Pete Robbins at [email protected]