When Mercury Pro Team angler Jeff Sprague isn’t competing on the Bass Pro Tour, he’s usually running his business and spending time with his family. The heat of the summer is an ideal time, in Sprague’s opinion, to get the family on the water to catch a few bass.
“The fishing is pretty basic in the summer, just about anybody can do it: You essentially chunk and wind most of the day,” Sprague said. “You keep your lure above the bass’ head, since they mostly feed looking up in the summer. Keep the fishing simple and relaxed.”
Sprague advises to keep the mood on the boat light and lively, don’t stay out too long in the heat and make sure everybody has fun doing whatever they want to do on the water.
“Let your family float, or swim, or read in the sun,” he advised. “Seriously, it’s all about the fun. If the kids or your spouse only want to fish for a couple of hours at maximum, but they want to stay out, then you fish and they can swim, or go out on floats, or just sunbathe. Never push it on them or they may not want to fish. I think this approach is probably the best way to get kids into fishing.”
Sprague also suggests finding some shades spots on the lake when fishing with the family in the heat of summer.
“My dad always took us catfishing,” Sprague said. “I’d wanted to go bass fishing, but we went catfishing. He made us stay whether it was hot or cold. That can be pretty unfun for people just starting out. I like to make everyone comfortable. Fish in the shade if you can find it – under bridges is generally a good spot to find a few fish and get a break from the sun. Keep everyone comfortable.”
When it comes to catching fish in late summer, Sprague looks for long points and schooling fish, and puts either a topwater or a swim jig in his family’s hands.
“I really like to chase schooling fish in the summer,” Sprague admitted. “A lot of anglers just fish for them early in the morning when they’re on the surface. That’s usually good, but they don’t necessarily go away when the topwater bite dies. They just feed a little lower in the water column.
“I’ll use topwaters like a Sexy Dawg Jr., and when they drop down a bit in the water, throw a ¼-ounce Squadron Head jig and a Rage Swimmer. The Rage Swimmer is perfect for beginners. You can just cast it out and wind it.”
Look for bass to congregate over deep water and over long points, and they’ll stay near the top of the water column whether they’re up shallow or are off the bank, over the deepest parts of the point. Bass don’t go deep this time of year due to lack of oxygen – they’ll slide up into the shallows early in the morning and slide out over deeper water later in the day.
“(Bass) can be suspended on trees or other cover along the points – you have to just keep moving and searching for them,” Sprague said. “There are so many different ways to catch them. You can fish an Ocho year-round if you know where to throw it. Pitch it next to trees and the fish will often take it on the drop since they are suspended.
“Or something like a Mark Rose Lil’ Ledge Spoon is also a phenomenal choice if you’re fishing summertime schoolers. You throw it out and let it fall and they’ll smash it. If not, pop it up and they’ll chase it down. This time of the year, bass feed and think about feeding, and that’s it.”