You just drifted over your favorite “summer worm hole”.  It’s a creek channel off a deep point.  You were the architect for heavy cover that provides good shade in these cooler depths.  The third cast, you feel a much-anticipated tap, tap, tap and rock the boat with a solid hook set.  After several memorable moments, you land a trophy, release her, but she just lies motionless on the surface.

Unfortunately, this scenario occurs too often through September.  Consider the average life expectancy of largemouth is around 10 years.  Big bass are like senior citizens.  They often can’t tolerate stress of being cranked from a cool 15 feet to 90-degree surface temperatures in a matter of minutes.  Some of us relate when recalling that mowing the lawn at age 65 isn’t as easy as it was at 35.

Minimize fish injury by planning angling excursions like you do most summertime outdoor activities. Be on the lake at dawn when bass are feeding shallow.  Stop by 10 a.m.  Go back out after 6 p.m.  Have you ever fished at night with a full moon?  It’s exciting!

Land your catch as quickly as possible.  Don’t create added stress by playing it until the fish goes limp.  Keep it in the water while removing the lure.  If the fish exhibits exhaustion, push it back and forth for enhanced resuscitation.  It will jerk away when revived.

Soft plastic baits are popular this time of year.  If large bass swallow the hook, cut the line and leave it. Surprisingly, body chemistry will erode the hook and cause less injury than attempted removal.

Our good friend Kenny Backus at Clarksville, TX, gives bass a break during current heat waves.  Kenny utilizes this period to achieve harvest goals for channel catfish.  When they tip scales at six to 12 pounds, it’s just as entertaining and a very valuable contribution to his lake management plan. Maybe you need to catch several baskets full of crappie.

Review angling policies for the next 90-days.  You’ve invested a sizeable budget and many years developing prized fish.  Protect them for bigger dividends this fall and future seasons.