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With summer here to stay, and consistently warm temperatures, it is time to change which kind of bait is presented, and where.

Most fish have spawned by this time in the season – with the exception of a few stray bluegills – and the fry are free swimming and for the most part on their own. Any of the artificial baits used now should step up in size from the springtime offerings to better match the growing size to the new fish. 

Presentation should also change. There is no need to slow-roll baits at this time of year. With water temperatures rising, the cold-blooded fish now have faster-paced metabolisms, need more food more often, and are more willing to chase baits than they were in colder water.

Those who are using live bait should switch to nightcrawlers and leeches and stay away from minnows. In the warm water, leeches and worms are much more active and lively, and attract more bites.

Keeping minnows alive in warm weather is very difficult and rarely worth the effort or cost. Really small leeches are deadly on panfish under a float. It should be illegal to fish for smallmouth bass with a slip float and a large leech on a circle hook. They cannot seem to leave the bait alone this time of year.

There are good spots to fish with this great bait. Small to medium-sized panfish (bluegills, sunfish and perch) will be in fairly shallow water in the weed beds, near downed trees and low to the water-boat docks. They will be in fairly good-sized schools, so a fairly large catch is assured before moving to a new location.

The bigger fishes are going to be deep (25-30 feet) down near underwater structure. Largemouth bass will be hiding near any ambush spot: under docks, edges of weed beds, pockets in weeds. These guys seldom go deep in summer.

Walleyes and smallmouths will probably be shallow in the early morning, late afternoon and at night. They will go deep during the daylight hours (15-35 feet), depending on the lake and available structure.

Enjoy the warm summer fishing. Until next time keep a tight line.

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