With many of the nation’s largemouth bass moving into their summer patterns, one of the most popular games will be the offshore ledges found throughout river system lakes, like those of the Tennessee River. Anywhere main lake and creek arm channels offer fish distinct contour changes, ledges will be the primary summer habitat.
It’s easy to see why bass love their summer ledges: structure, quick access to deeper water off the drops, natural baitfish travel routes. And given the fact that bass tend to form large schools over the ledges, anglers stand a good chance of scoring big.
Bassmaster Elite Series pro Terry Scroggins reminds us that not all ledges are created equally. If they were, anyone with a trolling motor could simply pick a spot, work down a contour line and catch ‘em until their arms tired.
“You want to stay in the high-percentage areas,” Scroggins said. “It’s like going down the shoreline; whenever you see a point or a pocket, you know that’s going to be a high-percentage area.
“It’s the same with ledges – you fish the irregularities. That could be a high spot, a turn, an end or any hard structure on the ledge.”
Indeed, random stumps, large rocks, brush or mussel beds create the gathering points around which bass tend to cluster. Invest some time in graphing your target area prior to fishing and you’ll find your efforts more productive.
Scroggins also notes that he prefers brighter days, as the intense sunlight positions the fish better than cloudy days, in which the fish tend to scatter.
Deep diving crankbaits are traditionally your most efficient ledge baits, but swimbaits, football head jigs, big Texas-rigged worms, and even a ¾-ounce spinnerbait will also tempt the bass. If the bite dwindles, try a dropshot, shaky head, or a flutter spoon. Sometimes, a change in presentation, bait speed or profile is just the thing to restart the bite.
While you’re fishing, keep constant watch over your electronics and note where the bait schools show. Summer bass want their food close, so a ball of shad is like a big neon “cast here” sign.