Bass Fishing Tips
We all relish the time that we get to spend with fishing. Our night before is filled with organizing tackle, checking the line, and inventorying our gear. We rise early with smiles on our faces, and a little more joy in our hearts than we do on a work day.
Whether alone, with friends, or spending the day with the kids, the goals are the same; relax, and catch fish. And if you’re a lake dweller, you know that there is a five pound bass waiting for you to wake up so you can start the day together.
So why not take advantage of the little time you have, and exploit every bit of experience and knowledge being passed on from those before us.
What I have tried to compile for you here, is years of sitting around the campfire, picking the minds of the most seasoned fishermen I know. Discussing casting techniques, experimenting to find the most effective lures, and finding those elusive hotspots anytime of the year.
Distinguishing myths and rumors from facts and proven tricks of the trade, I’ve created, and are happy to share with you, my top ten bass fishing tips. FYI: If you’ve never bass fished before, you are in for a real treat.
What’s Your Line?
The fishing aisle at any store starts with your fishing line. The choices can be mind boggling, and you’re left trying to explain to your kids why each is different, hoping to hit the answer on the nose. We’re setting up three poles for our next trip, and each will be rigged differently for specific styles.
First is fluorocarbon line. Fluorocarbon is ideal for lures that you want to work the bottom with. This heavier line has a better reaction for soft lures, like worms, grubs and the sort. The line is transparent and much harder for the bass to see.
Our second pole is geared up with monofilament. This thin, light line is best suited for topwater lures and baits because it floats more easily than other lines. It helps make a great presentation of reaction baits, and has more stretch to it. This allows the bass to take it in its mouth better.
Ultimately monofilament line is a great choice for lures that you can work along the top of the water. Third is braided line. Braided line is the heaviest of the three lines we’re discussing. It is usually the strongest of the three lines as well. It is easier for the bass to see in the water.
This rig setup is ideal for jigging and working areas of your lake that are heavy with vegetation. Another consideration with braided lines, is to add a leader of fluorocarbon line to the end.
This will give you the benefit of the sturdy braid line, coupled with the transparency of the fluorocarbon line, increasing the appeal for those structure dwelling lunkers.
1. Check Your Calendar
Your calendar has just as much impact on helping you reach your goals as the time of the day that you go out. Water temperatures and spawning cycles will determine if you are going to meet those goals. Usually early in the season they are hitting on opaque crawfish.
Later in the year the bass are more apt to strike on shad and silver minnows. In colder months you will find that the bass are searching out shallow water where the pools will warm up quicker than deeper spots.
Also, if you know where natural springs are feeding into the lake, the water is usually about 10 degrees warmer feeding in there, than the rest of the lake. This attracts the shad, and the shad attract the bass. They’ll be lining up for you.
Bass are sensitive to the weather. When storms are imminent, the bass become stirred and more active by the high pressure system that leads the way. When its beautiful and sunny out, the bass find comfortable spots to chill out, and be docile.
Remember that bass typically like low pressure and warm water.
3. Size Matters
Two types of bass that you’re searching for include the Largemouth, and the Smallmouth bass. The Largemouth are named such, because, well, they have a large mouth. They also have an appetite and eating style of a teenage boy. They will eat anything, as long as it fits in their mouth.
This includes mice, snakes, turtles, and lizards among other delectable morsels. If you are on the hunt for the Largemouth specifically, work larger lures.
If you are in small mouth territory, you may come up empty using the larger lures. My suggestion is to work with smaller lures and bait if you are in unfamiliar territory. The Largemouth and Smallmouth will hit on both.
Aside from the usual overhand cast there are a couple of other techniques that will help. First is the Pitch. Simply release some line, about a rod length, and then lock the line in place. Grab a hold of the lure in your free hand, keeping the rod in the other. Pull on the line, creating just a little tension. Release the line, while in the same motion flipping the rod forward, while releasing the line from the reel for a second time.
Next is Flipping.
With flipping you can be more precise with your efforts. Release, about 20 feet of line, or the desired amount to reach your intended target. Lock the line in place. Grab a hold of the line and rod with one hand, and allow the lure to swing the line back and forth. Swing the lure towards your intended target. With a little practice you will consistently hit your mark, you should be able to perfect this method shortly.
5. Do a Little Jig
Bass in prespawn situations, will nestle down in the rocks within the lake. They’ll typically stack up at depths of 10-15 feet, feeding off of the crayfish that are living along the rocks. Using a black and/or blue jig should yield some positive results. Dance along the rocks with your jig setup, up to ½ ounce in size, and you’ll find the fat females while they’re soaking up the warm water.
This is the time when the females will drop their eggs. Usually they drop along a rocky area that offers some protection to the eggs, or in a shallow part of the lake. They will “bed” their eggs for a male to come and fertilize them.
A shallow rocky area, away from the wind in early spring is consistent with the bass’ spawning habits. The shallow pools stay warm, the wind is down, and food along the rocks is plentiful. After a couple of passes with your lure, ideally a crayfish, black with blue and silver speckles, a couple of these spawning mommas will take your lure out of spite.
7. Against The Wind
I once fished with a guide who stood up in his chair, and inhaled deeply with the wind blowing at us. He exclaimed, ‘they’re coming towards us boys, I smell ‘em’! I didn’t smell ‘em, but we caught a couple quickly. The secret he said was that the bass swam with the current naturally. Also the vibrations from the boat carried away with the current, more than against the current.
Anytime you can mask sounds, (especially from kids), the better off you are. Bass are typically lazy, however, and would prefer to find “comfortable” spots to rest. So, look to fish the leeward side of various structure like lilly pads, fallen trees or mis-lake land masses.
8. If at first you don’t succeed……
Bass are a smart breed of fish, and a patient fish at that. Don’t give up after a couple of passes across their bed. They are checking you out, counting on the human impatience to walk away and try somewhere new.
If you feel confident that you know the fish is there, cast a little to the right, a little to the left, and in front of them. If for no other reason they will bite just to make you go away. Then you set, and reel in.
9. Damaged Lures
Some fishermen that we visited with told us stories about painting red dots on their lures to make bass believe that they could get an easy meal gulping down an injured prey. Others will tell you that bass don’t think that way. One thing that has been tested, is that the bass can distinguish the red on a lure.
Whether they think its blood or not is another question. Either way they will bite on it. Don’t stop there. Often times you find a damaged lizard or crayfish left over in your tackle box. Legs missing, cuts in the body, shredded worms of failed casts from days gone by.
Take these damaged tidbits, and make them dance awkwardly on the lake bottom. Bass love to take advantage of wounded adversaries, and jump, literally at the chance. From the storied fishermen we discussed, the overwhelming majority have had good success with these throw away lures.
One final takeaway. Often anglers will keep their catch in a livewell. Researchers have found that too often oxygen levels are not as high as they should be in livewells. Your boat should have a large enough livewell to maintain your intended daily limit. Ensuring that aerators are running enough to bring in fresh water frequently will improve the fish’s conditions.
Often times when a bass is deposited in a livewell, it will begin to regurgitate things that it has eaten that day. A quick once over will tell you the colors they are finding enticing right then, and it’ll define which specific snack they are most apt to strike in that area.
Summing Things Up
In all spending a day on the lake searching for that perfect lunker with your friends, or your kids is guaranteed to create long lasting memories, and probably a few learned tips that you’ll share with other friends and family.
Keep your tips up!