July fishing is notorious for being challenging. During the peak of summer the lake temperature is at its hottest, lately I have been seeing water temps in the upper 80’s. Boat traffic is at an all time high, especially on weekends which can also be detrimental to the bite. Hot water holds less dissolved oxygen and is also less appealing to largemouth bass, they would prefer cooler temps. Due to this then move out deep seeking cooler water. While this may all sound like doom and gloom, fear not! Those fish may have moved out deep but they still have to eat. I have some tips for you that will help put more fish in the boat.
During the summer most of my focus is out deep. Before getting into that I should touch on the morning bite. Early in the morning bass will move up shallow to feed. They take advantage of the cooler temps and low light conditions to feed up. A topwater bait can be productive, but that bite is mainly limited to the first hour of daylight. I recommend getting on the water at gray light, I’m talking about being launched and ready by 6AM. For me a bone or shad colored topwater walking style bait such as a Heddon Spook is a prefered bait. Stick to colors that imitate the threadfin shad in the lake. Look for areas up shallower where there is deep water nearby. Structure such as shallow brush, rock, or a drop off is ideal… just be thinking about where a bass could position themself to be hidden from their prey. Cover as much water as possible and fish fast!
As for the deep bite, this has been the most consistent pattern for me lately. 20-35 feet of water is where I have been finding the most fish. There are three types of offshore/ deep structure I look for, ledges, secondary points, and bluff walls with docks.
Look for ledges that sit in 10-20 feet of water on top and drop off deeper. Typically the edge of the ledge will be the most productive area. It’s not uncommon though to get bit at the base of the ledge if the ledge isn’t super deep. On windy days, especially when you get a drop in the barometer, I have found bass positioned suspended off the ledge willing to eat a moving bait like a crankbait or swimbait. For the most part though I stick with a drop shot, a Texas Rig, and a Carolina Rig. Zoom trick worms in natural colors like green pumpkin or watermelon black seed have been good options for the dropshot. For the Texas Rig and Carolina Rig I like a Green Pumpkin Zoom speed craw or senko. Fish these baits very slow and maintain that bottom contact, that is the key.
Secondary points are points underwater further away from a primary point, often separated by a flat. Areas like this are natural places for bass to congregate since it's typically the only ambush spot on the bottom in these areas. During the summer the bass spend a lot of time just hanging out in small schools. Ambush points are always good places to look, but sometimes they just relate to structure since it's instinctual, not always to position themselves to feed.I approach these the same way I approach ledges as far as baits. These spots tend to be deep, so selecting a rig I can get down to those depths and effectively present the bait is most important. You need to have the confidence that you can feel your bait hitting the bottom and be confident it's down there where the fish are. I look for secondary points in 20-35 feet of water… so pretty deep. I recommend upping your weight if need be in order to maintain that bottom contact. Another bait I throw is a ½ or ¾ ounce football jig in brown/ black. I love these since I can cast them far, feel the bottom easily and they don’t get snagged too easily. Try fishing secondary points later in the day as these are usually places bass hang out once they have moved out deep.
Lake Travis has a ton of bluff walls, but not all of them are created equal. Look for bluffs with docks on them. The angle of the bank also makes a difference. I look for steep banks, but not sheer cliffs. Ideally I want the front of the docks to be sitting over about 40 feet of water, too deep and these areas are tough to fish. When fishing these I position my boat so that I can make forward casts more parallel to the bank. I want to keep my bait in that 20-35 foot depth range. If you position your boat too far off the bank you spend more time letting the bait sink, or worst case, just swinging back towards the boat not even on the bottom. For these spots I recommend a drop shot, a shakey head, and a ned rig… what I call the “Holy Trinity of Finesse Fishing”. Smaller subtle baits tend to get bit better this time of year. Look for bluffs with docks as the bass will oftentimes hangout under or around them for the shade. Casting up near the back of the docks near the staircases is always a good spot! (just watch out for those dock cables)
My biggest piece of advice this time of year is to get out early while its cool, avoid the weekends when its busy, and pack lots of cold drinks! If you know me you know I HATE the cold! I’ll take 100 degree temps over snow any day. While the weather may be hot, the bite can sometimes be just as hot! We’ve had some really productive trips lately, so don’t let the fear of summertime fishing stop you from hitting the lake.
For those of you with a boat headed out to the lake, consider checking out my Honey Hole Reports. These reports are updated each Thursday at 6:00PM with fresh info. Each report contains 5+ EXACT spots with all the information needed to fish them. I divulge everything I have been doing that week with my paid clients during my guide trips. These reports go into extreme detail compared to the free reports you get here. Consider purchasing one today! If you do not feel it was worth your hard earned money I will gladly refund your money.