Nothing screams “vacation” louder than a fishing rod, a tackle box, and catching enough fish for dinner. But whether you’re casting from knee-high grass around a farm pond or screaming a boat across a reservoir, hot-weather fishing can be challenging. Birdsong Creek on the southwest side of Kentucky Lake is where I spend many of my dog days, and it features everything your potential hotspot has as well. Here’s how to fish it.


1. Take Them On Top
It’s hard to beat a buzzbait, Skitter Pop, or Pop-R for vicious strikes. On quiet mornings, work each with subtle retrieves and gentle pops in shallow areas. Use a more aggressive action if bass are visibly chasing bait. If you’re fishing around matted vegetation or lily pads, tie on a frog.

2. Or Just Below
Burn a white or chartreuse ½-ounce spinnerbait around shoreline cover and riprap early or late in the day—roaming bass won’t often pass up this easy meal. Willow-leaf blades help keep the bait just under the surface. Create a gentle wake without breaking the water’s surface to mimic an injured shad.

3. Made In The Shade
Docks and boathouses are summertime magnets for bass and bluegills. For bass, work the shady side first and quietly pitch jigs, 7-inch Texas-rigged plastic worms, or 4-inch tubes under and around these structures. Use crickets on a spinning rod or a cane pole for bluegills and bream (aka sunfish).


4. Get Your Veggies
For bass action, flip Texas-rigged tubes or a 7-inch worm around holes or irregular spots in primrose, cattails, milfoil, or hydrilla. Follow the edges with a buzzbait or walking bait, like a Zara Spook. If you miss a bite, retrieve quickly and cast again to the same area. A bass likely will be waiting for a second chance.

5. Play The Shell Game
In large reservoirs, use your sonar to find hard-bottom mussel beds, often on creek channel ledges or humps. These hotspots, usually 10 to 15 feet deep, often turn on when hydroelectric dams are generating current. Bump the beds with crankbaits and creature baits. Work swimbaits just off the bottom.

6. Hit The Midrange
Creek channels dumping into the main river, or smaller ditches or cuts that are 4 to 7 feet deep, are great locations for jigs, medium-diving crankbaits, and Texas-rigged plastics. Bluegills may frequent these areas, too; for them, use a drop-shot rig with crickets about 10 inches above the weight.

7. Work It Deep
Submerged humps (from 4 to 7 feet below the surface) with some cover are prototypical summer hotspots. If there’s no vegetation, fire shad-colored crankbaits or work a Carolina-rigged lizard or worm. In big bass lakes, Texas-rig a 10-inch worm or a 5-inch tube and drag it along the bottom.

8. Work It Deeper
Look along river channel edges 16 or more feet deep for irregularities. It may take some time to find these, but once you do, the action can be hot. Use ultra-deep-diving crankbaits, like the Strike King XD-10 or Rapala DT16, Carolina-rigged lizards, big football jigs, flutter spoons, or an Alabama rig.