It's 9:00 a.m., more than half an hour since your last strike. Up above, the sun screams from a cloudless sky, beating down relentlessly upon on the back of your neck. In an hour, you’ll be red as a lobster, sunblock or not. “Maybe it’s time to go home and mow the lawn,” you begin to think. “It’s already obvious that the bass aren’t biting.”
BRIGHT SUN, DIM PROSPECTS
Several consecutive days of bright sunny skies can be a bass angler’s nightmare. In fact, if you've been bassin' for any length of time, you’d probably rather see an approaching storm on the weather map than yellow, smiley sun faces - at least that way you can justify staying home due to inclement weather. But bright, sunny skies and high-pressure systems are inclement weather from a bassin’ standpoint. This combination often sends bucketmouths scurrying for deep water with their jaws locked tighter than a politician under oath - and the longer the sun shines bright, the worse the fishing tends to get. Oh, sure, bright sunshine helps in early spring, but mid-summer fishing on a cloudless day can be quite frustrating.
What can you do to improve your odds when the weather gods send the type of skies for which beach-goers pray? There are several options.
First of all, lighten’ up. Go to light lines and smaller lures in an attempt to offset the better visibility that bass have when the sun seems intense. Bright sunshine cuts deep through the water, reflecting off anything it strikes. Thus, your line is highlighted, swivels flash, knots stand out and hooks sparkle or glimmer.
In addition to switching lines, eliminate all terminal tackle except for hooks and lures. Tie directly to the main line or leader, sans swivels, snaps, floats, sinkers, etc. This should reduce the number of warning bells and whistles bass will see around your offerings.
Next, step down in lure size. For aggressive bass, a big plug, juicy 9-inch jelly worm, fat grub or large spinnerbait can be great under normal conditions. But sunny skies take the recklessness out of most fish. Scale down lures and baits to match the lighter tackle you’ll be using and the more subtle feeding patterns of sun-baked bigmouths.
Most days, I’ll start out in the early morning using my standard offerings for bass, but if the sun begins to shut down the action early in the morning, I’ll switch over to my bright sky offerings. Instead of a big jelly worm, I’ll opt for a six-inch or four-inch version. Rather than toss a five-inch plug, I’ll drop down to a two-and-a-half-inch or three-inch version, and probably choose one with a slender silhouette. Instead of a large, gaudy spinnerbait big enough to entice a musky, I’ll offer a small one designed to catch crappies. I might even pull out an in-line spinner meant for trout if the sun is shining hard and bright.
Bait should be scaled down as well. Rather than grabbing the largest minnows or biggest worms, select smaller ones. Tiny minnows fished from small hooks are deadly baits under sunny skies. Large, lively red wigglers and small nightcrawlers easily outperform big, sluggish monster ‘crawlers as the sun gets up in the sky.
CHANGE COLOR SCHEMES
You know the rule, dark colors on dark days, light colors on bright days; keep it mind. Bright day bass definitely favor light color lures. Light greens, whites, pearl and pale yellow all work well. Even better are translucent and clear, see-through offerings. I have, for example, a light green plastic worm that you can see right through. It’s deadly on bigmouths when the sun shines bright. The same color, same transparent appearance, works with small grubs. Instead of using a fat, four-inch black or purple grub, I scale down to a two-inch, see-through, light green or silver/gray version. The results have been impressive.