Many fishermen overcomplicate how to catch fish in July. With thousands of baits in the aisles of your Bass Pro or local tackle shop, it can get pretty confusing just what works during the dog days of summer.
To simplify this – I’m giving your three baits that are going to work all month in July. Summer is actually the time of year that I use the least amount of lures. There are some that just work and are the best for you to go to in all situations.
Each of these baits shines in certain situations as well, which we will also get into. So you not only know what to fish – but most importantly – WHERE to fish them.
1. Topwater Frogs
Perhaps the most fun way to fish in the summer is to find a big grass mat and tie on a topwater frog.
The beauty of a hollow-body frog is that it can be fished in water with a ton of vegetation. So if your lake is mossy, grassy, weedy, or has any green stuff on the top part of the water, a topwater frog will work.
Fisherman all have their preference for the best topwater frog, but I personally am not very brand specific. Particularly in summer when you’re fishing in dense vegetation, I just want something that won’t get hung up and has good quality hooks to make sure any bass that bites will get hooked.
For me – that is the Scum Frog. It has a very light, hollow body that lets it come through vegetation well and collapses when a bass bites which leads to better hookups. Plus, it’s one of the cheapest frogs you’ll find around. So what’s not to love?
More important than what type of topwater frog you’re using is where you decide to fish it.
It is well known that bass don’t like extremely warm temperatures. As the sun rises and temperatures outside increase, water temperatures rise extremely quickly in shallow waters and less so as the water gets deeper.
But some things exist in shallow water which keeps water temps around it cooler – chief among these is thick vegetation like grass mats. It provides tons of shade from the sun which keeps the water underneath it much cooler. So bass love to stay in it as shade from the sun.
Additionally, as water warms the amount of oxygen in the water lowers. Like us, bass require oxygen to survive. So bass will purposefully find water which still contains the most oxygen.
If you paid attention during science class, you might remember that grass, trees, and all vegetation expels oxygen. This works in the water too. All types of vegetation will output oxygen making the water surrounding them much easier to live in for all types of fish. Especially during summer when oxygen in water is diminished.
Grass mats and similar vegetation then not only provides shade for bass, but creates the oxygen they need to survive. For both reasons – a good grass mat on a lake can hold tons of fish.
The best grass mats on your fishery are going to be the ones that are the most green and alive. This is because they are the most likely to give off good levels of oxygen. So cruise around and try to find a nice big area of vegetation where everything is very vibrant.
Then, you want to just throw your hollow bodied frog right on top of the densest vegetation in the area. Usually bass will not be on the edges but will be right in the thick of it during the hot days of July.
Fish the entire mat though – as bass won’t travel as well in the dense vegetation to eat lures. This is because their sight, hearing, and other senses are limited in the thick grass. So sometimes you will have to throw right on their heads.
A final key for topwater frog fishing in July is to not watch your frog. You’re naturally inclined to set the hook as soon as you see a bass bite – and you’ll miss it every time this way. A bass eating a frog in vegetation is fighting through a lot of grass to get the lure in their mouth. So wait until you actually feel the bass on the line to set the hook to make sure you’re not pulling too early.
Don’t be too concerned if you miss a few fish though. Bass will often just miss the lure because of the vegetation they have to go through to get it. So if you’re catching 50% of the fish that bite, you’re doing just fine.
2. Deep Diving Crankbaits
Maybe your fishery doesn’t have any grass mats or they’ve already been fished hard by the other anglers at your lake. In that case, you’re going to want to head to deep water to find those bass that aren’t looking for shade and just want the deeper, cooler water.
This is probably the best way to catch great quality and numbers of bass because not many fisherman know how to do it. Finding a grass mat is pretty easy. Finding a point or creek channel holding bass with just your eyes is nearly impossible.
So a necessity for this type of fishing is having a fish finder of some kind. But it doesn’t have to be a very fancy one. Even a castable version like this will work to find the right places to throw deep diving crankbaits.
Bass in deep water will not be blindly out in the middle of a lake. Instead, they are much more likely to be on some type of structure or cover that they can relate to in big schools. The fish finder is necessary not just to find fish, but to find whatever they might be holding to.
So when trying to find a great place to fish crankbaits, my first recommendation is to go to the ends of points. Points are great places for bass to ambush prey and they relate to them often. Plus every fishery has them – usually hundreds of them. So they’re a great place to start.
You’re looking for something like the above image, an area where land comes out into the water making an actual point. That will continue underneath the water where two sides have really deep water and the area on top of the point is much shallower.
During July, bass will be on the sides of the point or very end of the point where the deep water is. How do you know where on the point they are? Well that’s what the fish finder is for!
You’re looking for not just fish sitting near the bottom of the water, but any type of rock, brush, or unique feature that bass might hold too. Chances are if you can find a rock pile or brush pile off a point in deeper water – there will be some bass there.
So when fishing crankbaits in July – finding the spots to fish is really key. Then, it’s as easy as getting your boat a good distance away from them and casting over your spot again and again, trying to get your crankbait to bump into the rock, wood, or whatever you’ve marked on your fishfinder.
Sometimes there will be a very specific area that bass want the bait in – but when you get it in that area you can catch bass cast after cast. So make sure to work a point from multiple angles and hit multiple places to try and coax a bite. When you get one, make the exact same cast and you’ll likely get bit again.
The best crankbaits I have found, particularly for fisherman just getting into deep diving crankbaits, are the Rapala DT series. This is because each is marked with a number for the depth that it will dive to (what DT stands for). So a DT 10 goes to 10 feet. A DT 20 goes to 20 feet. Simple.
They also come from an industry standard in Rapala and the color options are phenomenal. I recommend to stay with bright shad patterns like the Disco Shad or Penguin colors. Generally your dark or crawdad imitation colors don’t work as well in summer, but by all means experiment and find what works best at your fishery.
The key with picking a crankbait is picking one that goes just deeper than the spot you want to fish. This helps it dig into the rock, wood, or whatever cover you’re fishing and really gets the bass to strike the bait. Due to their design, they won’t get stuck easily either and just the lip of the crankbait will hit the ground.
3. Big Plastic Worms
But there is one bait that I’m going to have tied on and fish with about every fishing trip in July. A nice, long worm with a lot of tail action.
Part of the beauty in the plastic worm is that it can be fished in many different ways. For examples, take a look at this article which has 4 of the top rigs for fishing a plastic worm.
From that article, the texas rig, carolina rig, and dropshot rig all will work extremely well with a plastic worm in the middle of July. Depending on your conditions or what you want to fish – you will just have to rig it up differently.
First, we’ll start with the texas rigged big worm. This is probably my favorite way to fish in the summer, and is great for anyone who can cast with pinpoint accuracy.
As mentioned with topwater frogs, bass will be looking for shade if they’re still in shallow water. While grass flats provide the best shade, there are still other things that can cast shade into the water. This includes fallen over trees, shrubs, and boat docks.
For these specific pieces of cover that create small amounts of shade, a bass will hold tight in the shadiest spot and not move out for any type of bait. So being able to cast right into the holes where bass are hiding is extremely vital to getting bites.
This is where a texas rig absolutely shines. Simply throw your worm on a texas rig right into the tholes of a tree, the end of a dock casting shade, or the like and let it fall. Twitch it a few times to see if you can force a bite, then pull out and re-cast. This is actually a very fun way to fish if you enjoy casting and getting the lure in just the right spot.
A key to this is also using a slender worm that has great action but comes through cover easily, since you’ll be fishing in brush and wood often times. My favorite choice is a Zoom Ultravibe Speed Worm, but any ribbontail worm would also excel in this application.
But maybe you don’t cast as well yet or don’t have a ton of shade-producing features in your lake. Then I would recommend moving to either a dropshot or carolina rig.
Starting with the carolina rig, you should be throwing big worms on these off points, drops, bluffs, or other offshore structures much like you would a crankbait. In fact, finding the places to fish it and focusing on them is exactly the same, so I won’t repeat it. Read the crankbait above for in-depth information.
In essence, a carolina rig is just a crankbait that you can fish more slowly and get down to depth more easily. Use a nice big weight that brings it quickly to the bottom and drag it across the lake. Just like a crankbait you will have to find the certain spot that bass want to feed around pieces of cover like wood and rock.
The type of worm you’ll want to use varies, but Zoom Trick Worm is a good option. If you want to upsize to really get those big bites, go with a Zoom Ol’ Monster instead and you’ll be sure to entice those big fish with a nice, big meal.
A dropshot should be fished quite differently, and will require you to be very in tune with your fishfinder. You will look for similar spots like rock and wood off points or even in creek channels. Then, you position your boat right over top of them and simply cast down to the fish you see. Sometimes you can even see the fish come up to bite it.
This rig works best when bass aren’t sitting right on the bottom of the water and are up a foot or two. But you can make your leader length longer or shorter to match the depth from the bottom you find the bass to be on a fishfinder.
Referred to as “video game fishing”, this isn’t always the most exciting way to catch bass but is often very productive. If you find a large school and get them fired up, you can easily catch over 10 or 20 bass from one hole cast after cast. The work is just in finding the right school and enticing a bite.
I do upsize my dropshot worm during summer but not to the same lengths as other rigs. Anything above 6 inches is a little too long for my liking and you won’t get nearly as good of hookups. The best I’ve found that gives the bigger presentation a bass wants in July but still gets good hookups is the Zoom Mag Finesse Worm.
There are the 3 best baits that you should be using this July. Bass fishing during July can be really challenging. Bass are often too hot to feed actively and it can be3 a grind on the water when you’re sweating buckets and not getting bites.
But if you try the baits above and get the right school fired up, you can catch a boatload in just 15 minutes. Or try the shady spots we mentioned and you can pick off fish after fish holding to shade-creating structure. Whatever you do, just remember to get outdoors and go fishing!