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Summer Fishing: 5 Species to Target and Where to Find Them

For some species, summer is prime feeding time. 

By Trent Jonas

Summer Fishing: 5 Species to Target and Where to Find Them
Photograph Courtesy of On a Mission Fishin'

When the weather heats up, many species of fish become sluggish and head for deeper, colder water. For others, summer is prime feeding time, and that makes for a hot bite in warm weather. From smallmouth in Mille Lacs Lake to stripers off coastal Connecticut, these spots are ripe for the picking. This summer consider targeting this handful of species who love to eat summer bait—we’ll tell you where to find them.

Smallmouth Bass, Mille Lacs Lake, MN

During the warm, summer months, smallmouth bass are aggressive feeders, which makes them a lot of fun to chase when the air temperatures heat up. Mille Lacs, the second largest among Minnesota’s nearly-12,000 lakes, is recognized as one of the world’s best smallmouth fisheries, so it makes a superb summertime destination for smallmouth anglers, who chase the bronzebacks over the lake’s shallow, rock reefs, where the bass hunt baitfish.

You’ll find plenty of resorts on the lake, like Agate Bay Resort, that cater to anglers with boat rentals and fishing advice. Mille Lacs is a huge lake, so it does help to fish with somebody who knows where to find the smallmouth. Mike Riedl of On A Mission Fishin’ is just such a fellow. Give him a call and start boating bass.

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Redfish (Red Drum), Cajun Coast, LA

Even in the hot summer weather, there is no better place to chase redfish than the Louisiana Gulf Coast. Hit the lakes and bayous and look for moving water, whether current or tidal flow. Baitfish school up at outside points and small coves, and that’s where you’ll find the bull reds (and maybe a bonus speckled trout or flounder). 

Set up basecamp in Venice, known as the Redfish Capital of the World. Make it an all-fishing-all-the time experience with a stay at Nicole’s Fishing Bed and Breakfast, which offers accommodations to visiting anglers on local houseboats. Hook up with Reel Tite Fishing Guide Service for your best bet at boating a beast of a redfish.

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Rainbow Trout, Missouri River, Holter Dam Tailwaters, MT

Summertime trout fishing is one of freshwater angling’s greatest pleasures, and there are few places better to experience it than on the upper reaches of the Missouri River. Yes, that Missouri River—the Mighty Mo, the Big Muddy. Most would not envision it as trout habitat, but folks in the Big Sky State know it holds dozens of miles of blue ribbon trout fishing, especially in the tailwaters of Holter Dam, between Helena and Great Falls. Some estimates say this stretch averages 5,000 trout per mile. The fish are particularly active in summer months, when insect hatches are peaking. Ready for that Montana road trip, yet?

Missouri River trout are wild, which means match-the-hatch angling is the surest way to go. Stop into a fly shop, like Prewett Creek Inn in Cascade, to find out what’s hatching and what the fish are eating before you go. Prewett Creek Inn also offers lodging and guide services. Montana Angling Co. is a stand-alone guide service that can also help you make your Missouri River trout dreams a reality. 

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Snook, The Crossroads, Stuart, FL

Snook are warm weather fish—in fact, they die if the water gets too cold—so summer is the perfect time to chase them in their South Florida habitat. In the hottest months, linesiders tend to aggregate in large numbers at river mouths and inlets along Florida’s coasts. One of anglers’ favorite spots to snag snook is the confluence of the St. Lucie and Indian Rivers, known colloquially as “The Crossroads.” This time of year, night angling can be a successful strategy for snook.

Look for snook around bridge pilings and anywhere the currents are driving baitfish. Capt. Giles Murphy, the self-styled Stuart Angler knows the area’s waters as well as anyone and is certain to help you put a snook on your hook. 

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Striped Bass, Long Island Sound, CT

In the spring and summer months, huge numbers of striped bass make their way up the Atlantic coast of the United States chasing schools of migrating baitfish. By the time hot weather rolls around, the stripers are feeding voraciously in New England, from Connecticut to Cape Cod. Because stripers head back down the coast as the seasons change, there’s no better place to take advantage of the New England striper run than the waters of Long Island Sound off Connecticut, where you can land bass on both sides of the migration, and reel in resident stripers in between.

There are plenty of state parks along the coast that are open to shoreline striper fishing. You may also want to consider heading out with a guide who knows where and when they’re running, like Reel Cast Charters, out of Old Saybrook.

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Due to the escalation of the coronavirus outbreak, local destinations for outdoor recreation may be closed. Please visit official websites for more information.

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