Summer Lulls in Pennsylvania Smallmouth Bass Fishing
Bass Fishing | By Don Manning
February, March and April are the months of plenty. Smallmouth bass everywhere. It seems like every rock pile, eddy and any spot that looks like it could hold bass is stacked with smallies. Smallmouth bass are easy to catch in Pennsylvania in late winter through much of spring. However, Pennsylvania smallmouth bass fishing changes as summer approaches and drags into the hot months of July and August. No more are fish abundant, and many anglers fishing Pennsylvania waters are left scratching their heads.
Success in the early part of the year is driven by finding fish, once you are on to the bass if you catch one you catch 15 or 20. Any fishing lure works well because the smallmouth bass are so fixed on feeding up from the long cold winter, they will eat just about anything that gets thrown, pitched or reeled in front of them. Most anglers are throwing smallmouth bass fishing lures like tubes and hair jigs this time of year, and some diehards are even catching them on suspended jerk baits and small crankbaits. As spring winds down, Pennsylvania smallmouth bass fishing begins to change. Days of catching 40 or 50 nice smallies in a fishing hotspot are long gone.
As the spawning season wraps up, the summer months of June, July and August can be a debilitating lull for hardcore smallmouth anglers. Those fishing hotspots that held schools of fish just a few
months ago are now void of smallies. It’s like the fish just vanished. All you hear all on the docks and along the riverbanks is “Did you get any today” and “Can’t believe I couldn’t catch a fish today.” Talk about head scratching. You may be able to pick up a smallmouth bass here and there, but nothing like Pennsylvania smallmouth bass fishing was earlier in the year.
Right after smallmouth bass spawn in Pennsylvania rivers, they spend two to three weeks resting up before going back to feeding. The period is called the post-spawn syndrome. Post-spawn syndrome is a time after the smallmouth bass spawn where nothing is happening. You are better off staying home and not wasting your time running to the river to fish for bass. This period will last a few weeks, maybe a month, then look out, the smallies come alive again. Smallmouth bass begin moving towards their summer hangouts. The large schools of fish that you found in the spring are now spreading out post-spawn. But just because the post-spawn syndrome is over does not mean the bite is back on and bass can be caught hand over fist.
Summer Smallmouth Bass Fishing Tactics
One key area to fish when you are river smallmouth bass fishing after the spawn and into the hot summer months is the head end of islands. These areas are overlooked by most smallmouth bass fishing anglers, although they are some of the best places to catch big smallies. These fish know that if they position themselves at the front of these islands they get first chance at anything coming from upstream. Fish positioned here are extremely reactive and in feeding mode. Use smallmouth bass fishing lures like spinnerbaits and flukes in natural colors like pearl, silver shad and baby bass to trigger a bite.
As the summer moves into July and August, your summer bass fishing tactics have to change. River smallmouth bass fishing has to focus on areas with current. Fish, especially smallies, are drawn to current when the water level is low. Smallies know that current means food, whether it be bugs, crayfish or baitfish all are more abundant in low summer waters where current is found. Top water baits and small crankbaits in crayfish patterns work well in these areas. Focus on current and you will find smallies and beat the summer smallmouth bass fishing lull.
Come to the realization that the spring is over and the Pennsylvania smallmouth bass fishing lull is in full swing. Concentrate on islands and swift waters after the spawn and into the hot summer months of July and August. River smallmouth bass fishing can be just as good in the heat if you know where to find the smallies.