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Dog days of August also means schooling time for black bass

By Kevin Jarnagin, For The Oklahoman Published: August 10, 2014
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Summer’s dog days are in full force in Oklahoma when August rolls around, leaving anglers and bass scurrying to find the nearest shade.

As a bass angler, I even have a hard time finding motivation to get out on the water when it’s 100-plus degrees outside. But hooking up on a bunch of schooling bass can quickly take your mind off of the heat.

Late summer is when black bass in Oklahoma start to get together, or school up, and begin to roam and hunt in packs for baitfish. The shad have spawned and are swimming in herds, and the black bass begin to target them.

Schooling bass are always fun to catch, and figuring out what triggers a feeding frenzy is almost as fun as catching a mess of them. Schooling black bass can be found anytime during the day, but typically, largemouth bass are most often schooling early in the morning and late in the afternoon.

You can find bass schooling on lakes all over the state. Whether you target Lake Murray, Texoma or Sardis, anglers will always find some schooling fish ready to eat this time of year.

But what happens when you find them and the bite suddenly shuts off? Sometimes the bass will be popping the surface all around you and then suddenly they are gone. The fish are still in the area, but it’s like someone has turned the lights out around you.

Your next step is trying to figure out how to finesse a bite and get the bass feeding again. All it takes is getting one bass to bite to get the whole group feeding again.

There are a few tactics that always seem to work to get them firing again, but I’ve found one that simply can’t miss. It doesn’t take being a pro to master; all it takes is some patience and time on the water.

I use an old technique, shaky head fishing, with a new bait, the Money Maker, to get them back in the biting mood. Dragging a flip shake, aka shaky head, through the strike zone may not seem that old, but it was perfected in a time when finesse fishing was just getting legs.

It’s also a tactic that pro angler and former Bassmaster Classic champion Michael Iaconelli recommends to use, especially when the fish stop biting.

The key to this presentation is focus. Finessing fish, downsizing your gear and slowing down, is exactly what I do during months when fishing is slow and power fishing has run its course. I typically trade in all my casting equipment for spinning this time of year.

Schooling fish can be shallow or in deeper waters, but the areas where I love the flip shake are in the shallows.

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