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Alton Jones is a big fan of country music, but one song he doesn’t care too much for is “Too Cold At Home,” a catchy number by Mark Chesnutt that climbed the charts back in 1990. It’s not that Jones doesn’t like the song. He just doesn’t agree with the lyrics. In that song, Chesnutt croons, “Too hot to fish, too hot for golf, too cold at home.” Jones, a professional bass angler from Waco, Texas, isn’t sure about the golf part, but too hot to fish? Not a chance.
“That’s one of the biggest myths of bass fishing. I hear a lot of anglers say it’s just too hot to fish in the summer because the fish just won’t bite,” he says. “If you can stand the heat, the fishing can be real good.”
How good? Jones recalls one of his most memorable days on the water: a blistering hot day in July. He and a local outdoor writer were idling across a central Texas reservoir when Jones spotted a hump on the bottom of the lake on his boat’s depth finder. Jones wheeled around, cut the outboard and picked up a rod loaded with a Bomber Fat Free Shad, a deep-diving crankbait.
“First cast and we each had a six-pounder on. I knew this was going to be a good day,” he recalls.
It wasn’t just good. It was downright fantastic. The two anglers cast a variety of lures to that underwater hump for the next couple of hours, battling bass after bass with hardly a break between bites. “We caught 72 bass, with several eight pounds or better. It was incredible,” he says. “That just goes to show you that it’s never too hot to fish.”
Jones explains that because bass are cold-blooded, their metabolisms actually speed up as the water sizzles. That means they have to feed more, and anglers who put a lure in front of those fish are likely to be rewarded for their willingness to sweat through a summer day on the water. In other words, go and you’ll probably catch fish.
Bass fishing, of course, is never that easy. This time of year, the fish tend to gather in loose schools, so it’s not uncommon to spend an hour — or several — before you hit the jackpot. Jones says summer bass fishing is nothing more than a matter of numbers: Hit enough spots and you’ll eventually find fish. And where there’s one, there will likely be others.
When Jones searches for summer bass, he targets textbook spots like points, sharp drop-offs and underwater humps, the places bass congregate when the water temperature soars. He likes crankbaits, Carolina-rigged soft plastic baits and jigs. The bass aren’t always deep, though.
“Another common myth I hear a lot is that there are no bass in shallow water,” says Jones, the winner of the 2008 Bassmaster Classic and one of the most respected anglers in professional fishing. “I can’t tell you how many summer tournaments have been won in two, three, four feet of water.”
Virtually any lake that has aquatic vegetation has plenty of bass in just a few feet of water. So do reservoirs with docks, flooded timber or any other type of shallow cover. Even more surprising, at least to many anglers, is that those bass will gladly smash a surface lure like a Pop R, a Zara Spook or anything else that mimics a crippled baitfish sputtering across the surface in the middle of a blistering hot afternoon.
Most of that heart-stopping topwater action tends to take place in the first and last hours of daylight, says Jones, but it never hurts to try throwing a surface lure under a high, bright sun. Why not? Few anglers bother to do that, which is one more reason to try it. But then few anglers bother to fish at all this time of year. Maybe they’ve been listening to too much country music.