By Ron Johnson
As the summer heat turns up in Arizona, fishing gets a bit more challenging. I often hear chatter that the fish don’t bite in the summer, or that it’s too tough to catch fish during this time of year.
Water temperatures can reach the 90s and recreational traffic is in full swing, but if you manage your time on the water, the fishing can be quite exceptional. Some of my best days and biggest fish have been in the summer months.
First off, with summer in full swing fishing all day is not the most productive approach because the sun and heat will take its toll on you more than it will affect the fish, and it doesn’t always equal more fish either.
Due to the warmer water temperatures, fish are usually more sluggish during the day but still need to feed more frequently due to their faster metabolism. I typically hit the lake at first light when the surface temperatures are cooler, and low light conditions are prime for predator feeding. If you go in the morning, it is best to go early, like I do, because once 8 a.m. rolls around, the heat comes on strong and the recreational traffic increases.
Some of my favorite lures to use in the early mornings are anything topwater, and Buzzbaits, Poppers, Walk the Dog style lures, and Whopper Ploppers are my top choices. These lures cover a lot of area in the water quickly and make it very difficult for fish to resist as they look to feed on baitfish. Once the topwater activity slows down and the sun starts to come up, fish will quickly retreat to deeper water. They will seek out cooler temperatures, shade, cover, and areas close to baitfish. This is when my techniques change.
A jig or craw imitation, drop shot, and even spoons will then be my go to choices. As the day progresses, these baits get down deeper and get into the strike zone as fish become more sluggish.
If you’re not an early morning riser, the next best opportunity will be the evening bite. Once the sun goes down, both air and water temperatures will slowly drop, and fish will move up once again to feed. If you can find a defining drop in deeper water, like a ledge or point, I would target those areas first because the fish will move there in the later hours.
Jigs, big crankbaits, spinnerbaits, large 10-to-12-inch worms, and Buzzbaits can all produce some very good fish. These baits displace water making it easier to locate fish under the low light. I also like the larger baits because they usually draw bigger fish.
These are some quick tips to help you make the most of your summer fishing, but remember to experiment and change up your presentations when fishing depending on the depth and weather conditions and you too can have some great summer fishing.