I guess I should be honest from the start.
Honest about the fact that the months of July and August — every triple digit doggone day — are far from being my favorite stops on the annual run through the calendar.
Once upon a time, I used to shy away from fishing during the “dog days” of summer.
Until Flint, Texas resident Kelly Jordon finally convinced me to go out with him on a miserably hot Lone Star State afternoon a number of years ago.
“I think KJ’s suffered from heatstroke,” I thought as I pulled into the Lake Fork boat ramp parking lot — a deserted one at that — on a July day where the thermometer topped out at 105 degrees.
But Jordon, the only professional angler to have wins on the Bassmaster Elite Series, the FLW Tour, and in Major League Fishing, assured me that heat or no heat, we were going to wear them out.
“Burkhead, the hotter it gets, the more I like it,” grinned KJ. “It gets these fish grouped up on offshore structure and when you catch one, you’re about to catch a bunch of them.”
More than 35 fish later — up to eight pounds, no less — I was convinced that maybe I had something to learn about catching bass in hot weather.
On that particular day, deep diving crankbaits were the primary source of our summertime fish catching success.
But sometimes, it’s a different deep water lure that wins the triple digit day, a big flutter spoon.
For a number of years, Jordon thought that flutter spoons were a type of lure that belonged in the domain of wintertime fishing.
Until he and a few buddies tried the baits in the heat of summertime and hammered the bass at Fork where Jordon used to be a top shelf guide.
Since then, the Bassmaster Elite Series pro and Major League Fishing champion will never be caught without a Joe Spaits flutter spoon tied onto a rod lying on the front deck of his Skeeter bass rig.
“When they’re on it, they’re on it,” said KJ, a nine-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier. “When they’re not, they’re not. But if they are on it and you can catch them, it’s light’s out.”
For Jordon, the potential flutter spoon bite starts in late spring during the post-spawn phase as the first bass head away from the bank and swim out into the deep stuff.
“That’s when you can start trying to throw it,” he said. “Usually, when they really get set up offshore in the summertime, in Texas, maybe mid-June or so, that’s when the spoon bite can start to get hot.”
But the technique really comes into its own during the summertime heat of July and August: “That’s when you can really hammer them,” said Jordon.
To throw a flutter spoon, Jordon uses a Duckett Fishing Micro Magic White Ice series rod that is designed specifically for the bait.
“It’s a 7′6″ medium heavy rod,” said KJ, a four-time winner on the B.A.S.S. tournament trail. “The reason it’s 7′6″ is so that you can cast it farther, and if you really need to sweep it and pull up a lot of line up off the bottom, you can do that with the longer rod.”
When throwing a flutter spoon, Jordon uses fluorocarbon line, ”…at least 17-pound line, a lot of times 20 pounds.”
In general, KJ typically fishes the bait one of three ways: by using short hops up off the bottom; by ripping the flutter spoon up off the bottom and through a group of fish; or by swimming it along much like a swim jig.
“Generally, I don’t give them too big of a hop right off the bat especially if it’s a spot that I’m fishing that I know is not real big,” said Jordon, a one-time winner on the FLW Tour. “The bigger the hop you give it, the faster it’s coming off the spot (you’re fishing).
“And you may not need a big hop. If they’re sitting on the bottom on a spot the size of a boat, I can almost shake it on the bottom and leave it in there and one of them is going to come over and eat it.”
If the fish are suspended, he’ll often rip the bait up and away from the bottom: “If these fish are suspended and you need to trigger them, you can give a big sweep and rip it some 10 feet off the bottom,” said Jordon, who captured the Major League Fishing Challenge Cup on Lake Ray Roberts several years ago. “If they’re suspended and you come (up and through them), they’ll chase it.”
The key then is knowing when a fish will hit the bait.
“They almost always hit it when it’s fluttering back down,” said Jordon. “Sometimes, when you give it a big rip, they’ll hit it as soon as you stop. But most of the time, when you give it a big rip, it’s sinking back down and then there you go.”
If this sounds like the end-all method for the heat of summer, Jordon cautions that it is not.
“They’re either on it or they’re not,” reminded KJ. “If they’re not on it, you can’t get them to bite it at all. But if they are, look out.”
Look out for one of the best fishing trips of the year, even during the triple digit heat baking the Lone Star State during the red-hot dog days of summer.