Kayak Fishing the Dog Days of Summer

It is that time of year where bass fishing becomes uncomfortable. The heat is uncomfortable and tough fishing can make it even worse. Additionally, fishing from a kayak during the dog days of summer makes it an even bigger challenge. The bass can be hard to find, and it takes a lot of energy to cover water in the summer heat in a canoe or kayak. However, there are ways to be successful.

As kayak anglers, we do not have the luxury to make 10 mile runs up a river or lake quickly, like boaters do. We have to be strategic on what location we use to launch our kayaks, and our pre-trip scouting. I recently uploaded a YouTube video covering this topic. I am going to summarize parts of the video for you here. Below are five tips and tricks on how to hammer these summertime bass.


Picture of kayak fisherman holding bass
Found some!

Five Tips to Locate Bass

Study Your Maps 

This includes Google, Navionics, and any other means of map study. Navionics is a mapping system in which you would not need a fish finder to use. There is a free online Chart Viewer at Navionics.com/usa/us to water depth contours. An App version of this is also available. Additionally, you can use Google and other companies to study the satellite imagery of your designated body of water. 

Find Shade Pockets 

When it comes to largemouth bass in the summer. I am a firm believer that about half of the fish will stay shallow, and the other half will go deep. You can find fish in 2 feet of water if there is enough shade keeping the water temperature down. If you can study your map to locate possible shade by finding tree lines that are perpendicular with the sun rays at certain times of day. When you are able to get on the water, you can confirm your findings. 

One other form of shade to fish is soft or heavy cover. Bass will get out of the sun by using heavy wood cover, or vegetation such as lily pads or grass. Many bass tournaments have been won in the summer both by fishing shallow vegetation, or by fishing deep structure. 

birds eye view of kayak
Looking down on kayak fisherman

Study Depth Contours and Structure 

One last thing on shade. Some of the best steep drop offs to fish are where there is a combination of shade and depth change. In one of my recent outings, I found a ledge that was pretty close to a shaded shore. I was only about 10 yards from the bank, but sitting in 12 feet of water. Additionally, that ledge had been shaded from tall trees around the bank once the sun’s rays were directed NE in the afternoon. 

On a 95-degree day, finding this spot was crucial. If you are in a location with no shade due to open shorelines, you can still find fish. Study where the contour intervals are the closest. These steep spots stand out when you zoom out on a Navionics map because they appear in a dark shaded color, or almost black when looking at the map. The darker the color, the steeper the drop off. If you do not have electronics on your watercraft, I highly recommend using a cell phone app. The GPS on your cell phone can be used to track your location across the map. 

Locating Summer Bass
Locating Summer Bass

Sun Protection 

Skin protection is a must in the summer. It helps us prevent burning, and also decreases the risk of skin cancer. Additionally, it can have an impact on our fishing performance. Modern sun clothing is made very well, and can keep you much cooler than using traditional sunblock on open skin. The cooler you can stay, the better your brain can operate and think, and your physical stamina can last longer. This can mean you are mentally willing to cover more water if your spot is not producing. 

Kayak Fishing In the Sumer near cover.
Looking down on kayak fisherman

If you do not have the opportunity to fish all day or are not fishing a tournament, then it is wise to strategically pick the best times. This can also decrease the amount of time you are exhausting yourself in the hot sun. Three options come to mind. 

  1. Fish early in the morning when the fish are feeding heavily before the sun comes over the tree line, or while the sun is coming up. Unfortunately, this does require a very early AM wakeup.
  2. Fish in the evening when the fish are likely to begin feeding heavily again. Personally, I have caught my three biggest fish in the evening, and I thoroughly enjoy this time. 
  3. Fish based on the Solunar times, if you believe in it.  Solunar data shows the best estimated time for fish activity. There are some people that swear by it, and some people who don’t think it makes a difference. I tend to stay somewhere in the middle, but I have seen it be accurate at times. Oddly, sometimes the data will say 3 PM will be the best feeding time, and you may get out there and see fish busting on the surface chasing bait at that exact time. I have seen it happen.


Drone shot of kayak fisherman with sunset
Gorgeous Sunsets from a Kayak


I hope that you found some of this information valuable to you and your summer kayak fishing. It can be a tough time of year to fish, but the more fish we catch the more enjoyable fishing in the heat can be. Tight lines everyone.


By: Dominik Wilson

Link to Detailed Summer Map Study Video

Instagram: @thereelaccountant

YouTube: TheReelAccountant

Facebook: Dominik Wilson

Email: d.landon.w10@gmail.com

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