Our children's school is out for the summer, but for the bass and the bait, "school" is definitely in.
This time of year, the bass have gathered into large groups referred to as schools and are mostly holding offshore along the river and creek channel break. The baitfish are out there with them.
During the summer months, the water temperatures climb, and the bass and bait seek the comfort and refuge of deeper water.
This is great for fishing, because when you find them, you've likely found a bunch of them. The challenge is finding them. There is a lot of open water out there.
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To find them on your own, get out there and spend time idling around staring at your electronics. I have spent hours on end driving and idling, scouring the break lines of Lake Wylie for schools of bass. Keep in mind, these fish will often roam the break lines following the bait and may be here one day and there the next.
This combination of groups of bait and fish together in deep water leads to a special situation. The most effective way for these schools of bass to feed on the schools of baitfish is to push them to the surface where there is no escape for the baitfish. What this means is tens or even hundreds of hungry bass driving thousands of baitfish to the surface, fleeing for their lives. Its quite a spectacle to see the water boiling with fish, baitfish leaping out of the water trying to escape and the bass breaking the surface right behind them.
This schooling activity can take place at any time during the day, but is more frequent during the afternoon and low light periods. Once you find these groups of fish, this feeding frenzy (schooling) is likely to take place at some point. When this eruption of bass and bait takes place, if you can get a bait in their midst, you will likely get your string stretched usually with an exciting visible strike.
There are few things in fishing more exciting than watching schooling fish and throwing a top water bait among them to watch one of the bass come from no where and smash your bait.
Bait selection can be important. Sometimes, these fish become so fixated on a particular size, color or shape bait that they won't eat much else. At other times, it doesn't matter what you throw amid the schooling, it will get eaten. I like to throw topwater baits for these fish; a "walking" bait usually works well and would be my first choice.
There are lots of options to catch these fish -- a spinnerbait, fluke or ratltrap are my other choices. A clear Super Spook Jr. walked quickly across the surface won't make it far before a fish grabs it.
It takes some time and effort to find these fish, but when you do, it's a lot fun.
There is no substitute for time on the water!