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For much of America, late summer time, with autumn on the horizon, still has enough lazy, hazy and warm days to make a ton of great paddling' and catching' memories, and such days keep the bass hiding from the heat during the mid day. So to really go after them, a three-prong kayak bass fishing strategy focusing on (1) times of day and (2) what you're throwing, as well as (3) a good fishing kayak is really key to successfully targeting and catching bass.
If you don't have a good kayak already – one that is effortless to paddle, tracks well, and has lots of storage options and moves fast – then now's the best time to snag one, and it'll not only really help you make the most of your precious time before winter, it'll also set you up for an amazing early spring.
In terms of water temperature and where bass will be hanging out, the thermocline – the steep temperature gradient in a body of water, such as a lake or pond, marked by a water layer above and below at different temperatures – has pushed deeper and deeper, pulling the population of bass to the deepest depths they'll visit all year. Thus fishing deep this time of year has become far more of a chore than a leisurely pastime.
Morning Means Cooler Temps = More Bass Action
Morning hours are still prime time for being out on the water, even in the later months of summer. Not only is it cooler out on the water for the kayak angler, but bass feel that more comfortable cooling period and feed with more aggression.
Target grassy areas in 1 to 2 foot of water during sunup hours and work the surface with topwater poppers and chug the lure across the surface at a slow-to-moderate pace. If you happen to have the Cubera 120 hybrid SUP then you'll be able to stealthily float right up near the bank into mere inches of water and can fish parallel – see the topic of "shallows fishing" below. If you have a Sea Ghost 110 or Yellowfin 120 then you'll be able to easily and quickly position yourself right near these targeted grassy areas where a 'sparkle boat' can't get to, so you'll have as much time as you need to work the area and catch a ton.
It's ideal while on a kayak to use a kayak anchor or an anchor pole so that you stay positioned where you want to be, without drifting. Big fish feed during the morning hours all through summer into late summer, so expect to get the largest of the bass during that time of day.
Strategies For Mid Day Kayak Bass Fishing
Once the sun is high in the sky, you'll have to go deeper to find schooling fish. Installing a fishfinder is key to finding fish when they're deeper and harder to guess on their hiding spots. Once you find the fish, start working down deep along the slopes with crankbaits, or jigs, or worms.
Here's an easy video on how to install a fishfinder on your fishing kayak:
This time of year it can be helpful to slow your retrieve down, allowing for bass to key in on the lures in the sluggish temps. Keep casting to the same spots once you find a hit, as bass are schooling up during the day. Where you find one fish, you're bound to find a few more.
Late Day Kayak Bass Fishing Tactics
As the sun begins to drop, you can revert back to tossing topwaters. Sunset fishing means amping-up the commotion again on the surface. At dusk time, bass are often pushing and pinning baitfish up to the top. Any lures showing off pushed water or spitting action will usually get a strike, as fish will be busting on top, crashing bait schools.
Late day can make light and shadows create a tough time seeing what's going on, so having a good pair of polarized sunglasses and a brimmed hat is as important at this time of day as it is when the sun is overhead.
Older, Wiser Bass Often School In The Shallows
While most bass just head for deeper waters when water temps get heated, lots of the older, more experienced bass choose to head shallow in order to alleviate the pressure that 25-plus feet of water puts on them.
Hitting the banks, they seek refuge from the sun in the shade of docks and trees and have a plentiful food source in the form of shallow spawning bluegill and bream – so sometimes is best in late summer to look for shady nooks and places bigger, older bass can hide.
As more of these typically bigger bass move shallow, they run into each other and group up in small schools or packs. Running together down the bank, they use their numbers to ambush and corral their prey. Knowing that this is going on, kayak anglers can take advantage in several ways.
"Shallows Fishing" Means Positioning Kayak Parallel To Bank
This style of shallows fishing has a very particular strike zone. These schools of bass will run right along the bank, so shallow at times their dorsal fins will stick up out of the water as they swim along. It's a very visual style of fishing, where you'll often be able to see the fish moving along in a couple feet of water up to mere inches – so a fishing kayak like the Cubera 120 hybrid paddle board which can coast in inches of water can really increase your "shallows" game.
Knowing the strike zone is so shallow, you'll typically want to parallel the bank, meaning you'll want to keep your kayak close to the shore and throw your bait straight down the bank. You'll also want to keep a constant eye out, looking up and down the shoreline for any sign of fish making a wake. Having multiple rods with different lures on rod holders will give you super-quick set ups to try different baits very quickly.
Late Summer Temps Means Covering More Water = Pedal or Motor Is Fastest Of All
The only real drawback to kayak fishing when the temperatures are warmer is that bass can be few and far between. You'll experience hours of boredom interrupted by moments of sheer crazy fun. So one of the keys to success is covering a lot of water.
Ideally, that means having either a pedal option for your fishing kayak – such as with the Shearwater 125 or you'll want to add a motor, such as the Bixpy J-2 and either option will allow you to cover lots and lots of water in a much shorter time.
Best Baits To Use
As mentioned above, topwater plugs, jigs or worms work great this time of year, but a topwater is best for when you need to cover more distance – such as when bank kayak fishing. A topwater allows you to cover more water by throwing farther and drawing fish from greater distances than other baits like a wacky rig would. Topwaters also do a great job of mimicking the forage these small schools are after.
Poppers, walking topwaters and twin-prop baits are great, but prop-style baits create a lot of commotion, can be thrown long distances with accuracy and are very effective at hauling big ones to the kayak once they bite.
Accuracy is a very important thing, too, as you'll need to capitalize when you do run into a school and placing the bait softly right in front of the fish can be the difference between the bite of a lifetime or the fish seeing you and spooking before you even get a shot at them.
With the right gear and the right strategies, this time of late summer you can experience some of the most memorable kayak bass fish catches of the entire year if you stick it out. Tight lines.