If there is any doubt about summer being here, just stick your nose outside the door, and it might melt right off of your face. However, and that is a big however, temperatures are nothing too unusual for Texas at this time of year, and for you folks who have not been here very long, all I can say is drink lots of water and get used to it — this is Texas in the summer.
Growing up on the edge of the marsh and the Gulf, when we went fishing in the summer time, we were where we intended to fish at daylight. We would fish for bass until about 9 a.m., then look for a hole with a tree over it, or a good stand of reeds that offered shelter from the sun over a hole, and would rig up and fish for bream or catfish. That would last about an hour if we caught anything and a half hour if nothing was biting. At that point we would crank up the outboard motor and head for the boat launch. That summer time table still works for me today.
At that time in history, the only reservoir we had in East Texas was Dam B, also known as Steinhagen Lake, and that might as well have been on the moon for all we knew or cared. Many of us were pretty sure that if you left sight of the Gulf you were in a God forsaken wilderness. After all these years I still have leanings in that direction.
Today with so many lakes available to us, each with plenty of water, and well stocked with large Florida bass, fishing can be an adventure all year around. About the only deterrent to fishing is lightening and how much cold or heat a person will put up with to catch fish.
In the heat we have at this time of the year the best fishing is going to be in the morning or late at night. Most of the fish will be in the thermocline, and in a lake such as Lake Conroe, a Carolina Rigged Worm will be a good offering to entice the bass. Also remember that when the water gets heated up, it is almost necessary to beat the bass over the head with your lure, and really make them mad, to get them to strike. Therefore a slow retrieve is in order. That is true if you want to try crank baits or soft plastics.
Many anglers I have surveyed over the years agree that Texas and Carolina rigged worms in Watermelon Red are the first choice for bass fishing at this time of year.
Crappie in the heat of summer are not very responsive, will be around brush or other submerged structures, and around boat houses and docks with ten to fifteen feet of water around them. Jigs are hit and miss but if I am out seriously after crappie, minnows are hard to beat as consistent bait. The one point you can be pretty sure of is crappie fishing will not pick up until November or December.
Keep in mind that fish are going to be at a depth where the water is not super-heated by the sun and at a temperature more to their liking; but they will also be getting out of those strong direct sun rays. A bass can absorb radiation from the sun and have their body temperature rise higher than the temperature of the water around him. Therefore they can also be counted on to be out of the direct rays of the sun.
For summer fare for the table, and the most likely fish to provide a successful fishing trip in the dead of summer when the temperature crosses the ninety degree mark looking for a hundred, try catfish. They tend to dive down to the creek bottoms or river channels, as long as there is oxygen enough for them to survive, and continue on their merry way.
There is also the excellent point that catfish will eat almost anything. Commercially produced catfish bait can be found almost any place, from discount stores to the most specialized shop catering to the angler. There will be a variety of types for you to choose from mostly cheese or blood based catfish bait. A fishing guide told me recently that he stopped using blood bait because he found that it stained his clothes, so it might be something to keep in mind. If that is not your choice or if you get caught away from commercially produced catfish baits, chicken liver is a good choice. Catfish will also bite on night crawlers and minnows. There is even a record of an 80 pound catfish being taken in a bass fishing tournament on Lake Conroe on a plastic worm.
So when it comes to summer fishing it takes more work to get the job done, but you can still catch fish. However, when you think about it, one of the major reasons for fishing in the first place is to get away from the major stress producing environment in our everyday lives. To escape out on the water, commune with nature, and relax to the rhythm of the water lapping at the hull or the shoreline is truly nature’s best tranquilizer.