The basics of bass fishing will lead anglers into an exciting pastime, enjoyed by anglers of ages. Bass are an abundant fish throughout North America and easily accessible to anglers. In the spring, summer, and fall they are easy to catch on most bodies of water. All an angler needs are some equipment and what to look for in terms of habitat.
The equipment for bass fishing can vary among fishermen. It comes down to preference and what works in the region you fish. You can start with a simple spinning combo with a medium action rod. A length of 7 – 7 1/2 feet gives the most options in bass fishing.
This length allows for further casting and is easy to handle. Additionally, it is suitable for lures and live bait. Spinning reels are less complicated than baitcasters. This adds to the ease and enjoyment of newer anglers.
Bass swallow their food whole limiting the size they can eat. They also hunt by sight requiring water clarity 12 inches or more.
Where to Find Bass
Bass are members of the sunfish family. As a result, largemouth and smallmouth are common species. Smallmouths are plentiful in streams and rivers. Largemouth tend to be lake-dwelling fish. This makes bass easy to find in North America. The key to catching bass is locating the structure and cover they prefer.
Smallmouth Bass Basics
Smallmouth bass will be found in waters east of the Rockies. As a result of stocking efforts through government agencies and bass organizations. They prefer gravel bottoms, rocky outcrops, fallen trees, and the edges or confluence of currents. They will inhabit vegetation and deeper water during certain periods of the year. Smallmouths are fish that enjoy temperatures between 60 to 80 degrees. Waters not in this range will push them into deeper water where it tends to be stable. The exception is in lakes with low dissolved oxygen content.
In the springtime, bass becomes more active as the water warms. A slower presentation of lures or live bait tends to work better. Later in the spring is spawning time for bass, as a result, they feed heavier before spawning. Bass will start striking any lure. When in the spawning cycle they tend to have lockjaw. The chances of getting bite are low.
However, the fish are likely out of season and illegal to harvest. A word of caution. Bass on spawning beds may be illegal to target depending on state regulations, additionally, it is frowned upon by ethical anglers. You need to check local regulations concerning bass.
In summer they have completed spawning and moved out of the spawning areas. Then bass will be in search of crayfish, insects, and schools of minnows. You locate the food source and the bass will be there. Gravel bottoms hold crayfish and insect larvae, all-time favorites of smallmouth. Also look for schooling minnows near brush piles, logs, and other covers.
In mid to late fall the bass will begin slowing down as the water cools. It is time to go with the slower presentations as you would in early spring. The summer tactics will work on some days depending on weather conditions. So, a warm sunny day will bring fish into shallower waters to feed heavier for the upcoming winter. In winter smallmouth become lethargic due to slower metabolism. An exception in the southern part of their range. These are general guidelines for seasons. So some adjustments to lures and locations may be needed.
Lures for Smallmouth Bass
The lures that mimic the natural bait present will yield the best results. This includes crankbaits, jerk baits, spinnerbaits, and soft plastic lures. As summer moves on the bass will become more active. Then topwater lures are good for bass. Especially, in the early morning and before sundown.
The largemouth tends to be a southern species and does have some differences in behavior. Largemouths follow a similar pattern about the spawning process. But prefer different cover and structure. In the south many waters allow largemouths to thrive as the habitat is natural to their needs. The lakes have preferred temperatures and plenty of weed growth. They can be found in some northern areas but tend to be in lower numbers with a few exceptions. A few states in the north have quality lakes and well-managed fisheries. This occurs through stocking and regulation.
Largemouth bass like weed edges and pockets within weeds from the time they hatch. Plus throughout their life. Weeds provide cover or shelter when young. As they mature the same cover provides ambush points to catch prey. They will use timber stumps, and brush piles along with the weeds. Additionally, the structure varies with largemouth. They concentrate in holes, ledges, and whatever else on the bottom provides a hiding spot. These fish prefer slow or non-moving water in the temperature range of 65-85 degrees. Sometimes up to the low 90s if the dissolved oxygen level is high enough.
Lures for Largemouth
Largemouth will strike any type of lure based on several factors. Active bass goes after crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and other fast lures. But pressured bass requires finesse tactics. Soft plastics are finesse lures for bass anglers. Although the classic “rubber worm” still works well, there are many more options. Wacky rigs or ned rigs are easy, productive, and catch fish when other techniques fail. The topwater lures are a favorite among largemouth anglers. These lures offer an explosive element when a bass blast out of the water on the strike.
The largemouth likes cover for shade during bright conditions. Avoid areas with a lot of bright light. Instead, try fishing along shady shorelines.
The choice of lure color is over debated among anglers, but you do need several colors to be effective, however, every color is not necessary. The basic colors to start with are chartreuse or yellow, black, blue, and baitfish patterns. Baitfish patterns include bluegill, crayfish, shad, and other native prey. Choosing a few lures in those colors will work and save money.
This is a basic summary for the beginning or novice anglers to help improve their bass fishing skills. As a result, an experienced angler likely knows all or most of these facts along with a bit more. It doesn’t hurt to refresh basic knowledge in the sport of fishing. Since you can have bad habits creep in without realizing you acquired the habit. Lure colors is a perfect example, relying on the same colors and style of baits. I say use them all and what works best in a given situation.
Keeping fishing simple for tight lines and bragging rights