Luke Clausen shares some offseason secrets about summertime fishing in the Pacific Northwest. Photo by Garrick Dixon

Luke Clausen’s 2020 MLF Bass Pro Tour season is over, but his fishing “season” is far from finished.

While preparing to fish a white marlin tournament in Virginia with pals JT Kenney and Bryan Thrift, Clausen dropped a little knowledge about summertime bass fishing for both smallmouth and largemouth in the Pacific Northwest (where Clausen was born and raised).

“Summertime is one of the best times to fish for bass in the northwestern US,” Clausen said. “Northern largemouth and smallmouth bite extremely well this time of year in that region, where the bite can be challenging many other places in the country.”

Clausen’s Summer Smallmouth Go-Tos

Clausen recently fished one of the premier smallmouth bass fisheries in the world: Sturgeon Bay in Wisconsin. Since those experiences were still fresh in his memory, he was more than eager to share his favorite northern smallie techniques for the dog days of summer.

“To target smallmouth this time of year in the northern states, a few baits will cover your bases,” Clausen said.  “A walking topwater, a jerkbait such as a Jackall Rerange 110, and a Z-Man Ned rig are three of my go-to baits.

“Focus your fishing on flats and the edge of flats in the mid-depth range from 8 to 15 feet deep. This is where you’ll find most of the fish this time of year. Safe bets are fishing the topwater in the morning and evening on the shallower portions of the flats, working the jerkbait quickly across the flats during periods of wind and sun, and the Ned rig will work at all times, assuming you know where the fish are located and can slow down to catch them.”

Clausen’s favorite color for the Jackall Rerange 110 is the Secret Shad color, which has a chartreuse belly. The Ned rig of choice for him is a ⅙-ounce Ned Head with a green pumpkin or Canada craw Z-Man Finesse TRD.

Largemouth Stand-Bys: Shallow and Shady

Don’t forget about the abundant populations of largemouth that swim throughout the north country. Think shallow and shady.

“When I fish for largemouth in the summer up north, I like to fish docks and aquatic vegetation. Of course, it all depends on what’s available,” Clausen said. “If there are docks, there will almost always be fish on some of them. I really like to use a Dirty Jigs Compact Pitchin’ Jig with a Z-Man TRD BugZ as a trailer in both black and blue and green pumpkin. Which one I pick depends on the water color and time of day, 100%. Dirty water, or early and late in the day, I prefer the black and blue. As the day gets lighter, or the water is clearer, the safe choice is always some shade of green pumpkin. 

“The vegetation that exists can vary from pads, milfoil, or coontail, and will all hold fish. A great way to search those areas, and a bait that works for all northern largemouth bass all year, is a Tackle Warehouse custom Z-Man ChatterBait and a RaZor ShadZ trailer in green pumpkin.”

So, when MLF pros are fishing home waters, where do they wet a line? In Clausen’s case, he has two favorites.

“For me, I like to fish either Lake Coeur d’ Alene in Idaho or Moses Lake in Washington,” he said. “Both lakes offer great multi-species fishing opportunities, including excellent fishing for either smallmouth or largemouth bass, plus diverse types of cover to fish. I’d recommend both.”