Put Fish In The Boat, Even During ‘Dog Days’
If you go to the Mesa Bass Pro Shops bass seminars, you’ve probably seen Jerry Weston. If not, get out there and meet a bunch of Arizona bass pros! Jerry was kind enough to take us out to Bartlett Lake one morning and show us how he puts fish in the boat during these dog days.
The water temperature was in the high 80’s right from the get-go, but it was cloudy and the barometer was falling, so Weston opted for a reaction bait first thing. We were on the water before sunrise, and he went straight to a main-lake area past the S-curve and across from that second boat ramp.
Ideal Summer Fishing Areas
These main-lake areas with small cuts are ideal summer fishing areas because bass like to have immediate access to deep water in the summer. Jerry was throwing a Berkley Dredger 14.5, which is a 5/8 oz bait. It was silver and blue. For these deep-diving baits he uses 12-pound-test fluorocarbon line because it sinks and helps the bait get down. He put a fish in the boat before 5:30 a.m.
Weston keeps a variety of baits tied on and when the bank changes, he switches baits. On Bartlett, in this area, you can be fishing a shallow gravel slope, then twelve feet later it’s big rocks, then again a bit later it’s a cliff. When the bank changes, he changes. He picked up a Bass Patrol ½-ounce jig and started dragging it around on a deeper point.
Start Fast, Then Slow Down
“Start fast, then slow down if you don’t get bit,” he says. Starting fast lets you see if anything is active. If so, you can continue with a variety of reaction baits, or fish a jig or a worm quickly. When we passed the point, he went back to the crankbait. Meanwhile, John caught a nice bass on a topwater popper. It’s always a good idea to have your fishing partner do something different.
Jerry used the Dredger, a chartreuse and white spinnerbait, and that jig just covered the shoreline thoroughly. He caught fish on every bait. When the shoreline changed, he changed baits, but just kept moving. When he caught a fish, he’d stay in the area for a bit and see if any others were around. When he came to a long point, he would fish it thoroughly, then move up and fish uphill. That often did the trick.
Weston Knows Boats
Jerry works on boats, so he knows what works and what doesn’t. One thing he really likes is his Ultrex trolling motor. If you need to re-tie, or you just want to stick around and fish a certain area, you can set the trolling motor to keep you in place. He also likes the Hydrowave, which is an electronic device that puts out sound that is said to attract bass. One takeaway from our trip with Jerry was this: Even if you don’t have a boat, you can catch bass if you thoroughly work a bank. If you are a shore fisherman, take two or three rods with you. Have one set up for reaction baits and one for jigs or worms. Weston recommends 14- to 17-pound-test fluorocarbon for jigs and worms — heavier line if there is a lot of cover. Just work the area and change your bait to suit the structure. If you come to a long point, throw as far out as you can and work the lure back. Start with reaction like a crank or spinnerbait, then use a worm or a jig.
Cloudy Or Sunny
Cloudy weather usually means you can work a little faster, while bright sunny days call for slower retrieves and more subtle baits. Nighttime fishing is awesome at Bartlett, especially when it is so hot during the day. Try going out in the late afternoon and staying for a couple of hours after dark, or go out at three in the morning and stay until after sunrise. You’ll not only be more comfortable, you’ll also have a dynamite chance of catching some nice Bartlett bass. Jerry says he loves jigs at night, and he uses a Berkley Powerbait Chiggerbug on his jigs. These little lures are only three inches long, but they have big “claws” that put out plenty of vibration when you move them. Darker colors are best at night because you are presenting a silhouette, not a color.
Water, Hat, Sunscreen!
We only stayed out for a few hours until it got hot, but we had a blast and caught a bunch of fish in spite of the heat. If you decide to head to Bartlett, make sure to bring plenty of water and wear a hat and sunscreen. Be observant – when the bank changes, you should change. And be sure to check out the Bass Pro Shops Bass seminars at the Mesa store. They are the second Tuesday of each month at 6:30. You’ll hear fishing reports from local pros and get all kinds of great information. They have raffles and all kinds of fun, so bring the kids.