Brent Champan is looking forward to fishing up north for the final stop of the 2020 Bass Pro Tour. Photo by Josh Gassmann

Summertime bass fishing can be great. Bass can be schooled up much more than other times of the year, and as much fun as I have using my Garmins to locate schools of fish, I have to admit, I’m a shallow-water sight angler. I’ll go into that shallow water and just fish. I really enjoy that style of fishing more than others.

Of course, one of the biggest problems with fishing like that can be the excessive heat that comes along with the middle of the summer, especially in the middle and southern parts of the country, where daytime temperatures can get into the 100s at times and the fishing can really slow down.

My solution to fishing in that heat is simple: head north. The summertime air temperatures are usually much cooler, and the scenery and fishing is almost always great.

I was recently coaching my son’s high school fishing team at their championship in La Crosse, Wisconsin on the Mississippi River. Besides being an awesome area of the country, it reminded me of how much fun fishing up in the northern states is, especially up shallow. 

Places like the northern stretches of the Mississippi River or Lake Champlain in Vermont are places I really wish we could’ve gotten to on the Bass Pro Tour this season. I love Lake Champlain…really any of the northern fisheries. Many of the smaller natural lakes in the northern states are full of fish. Not only are the bass usually up shallow there and not fished very hard, but you can also catch muskies and northern pike while bass fishing, too.

My Northern Approach

I can go up to places like Wisconsin and fish with whatever bait I want to use. Any shallow water technique can be good at one time or the other.

I’ll do the typical MLF deal with rods: I’ll have a 1.5 squarebill crankbait, a beaver, a bladed jig, a swim jig, and topwaters like a frog or buzzbait. Throughout the day, one of those lures will catch them. That means that I’ll have a bunch of Plano EDGE tackle boxes loaded with as many options as possible, but really, almost any option will work.

Usually, you don’t have to fish deep up north to find bass, and there are usually plenty of pike, and sometimes there are those prehistoric-looking mudfish to keep you on your toes. Those mudfish can really get your heart pumping and destroy your hooks.

Another great thing about fishing bass up north is the time of day that you need to be on the water. I’m not a morning person, I never have been. Sure, I get up really early every day to fish for a living, but when I don’t have to be up early, I’m not.

I like getting on the water when the sun is up on the northern lakes. During the middle of the day, when the sun has positioned the fish in cover and shade, you can go and catch them. The cooler temperatures in the region make midday fishing more comfortable for me, too.

The next and last stop on the MLF Bass Pro Tour for 2020 is going to be on a northern fishery, but this one is likely not going to be won in the shallows. It’s in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, part of Lake Michigan. I’ve never fished there, but from what I’ve learned, there are huge smallmouth bass there, and some untapped largemouth. Who knows, someone might find a shallow water option there and do really well.

I didn’t realize how massive it was. I know I can’t see it all in two days of practice. I’ll pick a reasonably sized area. I think I’ll need an area a mile or two long, and find a bunch of sweet spots. It’s hard to say how much I’ll need to do well. Nobody knows how it’ll play out. Bass could be postspawn, and in that crazy funky time, fish could be scattered. Or, somebody may find a mega school and sit on them and score a ton of bass. I think it’ll be a little bit of everything.

I’ll have eight spinning rods and another 15 baitcasters on deck, and I’ll let fish show me what they want. 

I’d love to be in a position to win, catch a big bass so I can qualify for next year’s Heavy Hitters, and move up into the Top 10 to make the final Cup event. There is a lot to shoot for at this final tournament. I can’t wait to fish up north again.