The abundance of bass throughout the country makes it one of the most popular games for both professional and beginning anglers alike. Still, this activity – whether done for sport or hobby – can prove to be rather challenging especially if you lack the necessary information, skills, and fishing equipment. Thus, we have here a guide that outlines most of the things that you need to know about how to catch bass fish.
1. Know the Best Time of Day to Fish for Bass
Although the bass is generally available for fishing throughout the day, many anglers have observed that fishing during those times of the day when the water temperature is cooler and the lighting conditions are lower results in a more productive fishing trip. That said, experts generally agree that early morning, late afternoon, and even evenings are the best time to go fishing for bass.
These times of the day usually see high baitfish activity, and as a result, the bass is more likely to come out of their shelters to feed, making themselves vulnerable to anglers. Besides, there are fewer anglers and commotion in the water, which then translates to less competition and a more relaxing fishing trip overall.
Also, fishing for bass during cloudy days can turn out to be quite enjoyable. Not only will you be able to enjoy a cooler day in the water even when under the sun, but you’ll also be able to increase your chances of catching bass because there tend to be much more active and willing to expose themselves to feed.
2. Know the Best Season to Fish for Bass
Fishing for bass is best done during the pre-spawn season and late summer to early fall. During the pre-spawn season (which usually begins around April) bass tends to gather around shallow waters to feed. This gives you the chance to bag those prize-winning bass that usually thrives in the deeper parts of the waters. Bass feeding behavior (and activity) also goes up during late summer and early fall. Afterward, when the water temperature drops bass fishing becomes more challenging as the fish tend to be lethargic and inactive.
3. Get the Right Reel
There are basically three types of reels that are commonly used for bass fishing. These are the spin-cast reel, spinning reel, and baitcasting reel.
Spincast reels are generally preferred by many anglers because it is easy to spool and cast. These characteristics (brought about in general by the simple design) makes them easy to use even for those who are just learning how to fish.
Spincast reels also have several drawbacks. For one, these reels aren’t really suitable for casting heavy lines. Second, they have limited line capacity and weaker drags compared to a spinning and baitcasting reel. Lastly, they have slower gear ratios which means that you’ll have to turn the handle a lot more to take up the same amount of line.
Using a spinning reel properly and effectively usually takes more time (and practice) to learn, but once you get the hang of it, it usually becomes second nature. These reels are great for light line applications as well as for small lures which are difficult to cast on a spin cast or baitcasting reel. However, many anglers have often complained about the line twisting and coiling with spinning reels since the line is wound around a fixed spool.
Baitcasting reels are different from the other two types of reels above in terms of design. Unlike a spin cast or spinning reel which has a fixed spool, a baitcasting reel has a spool that spins to take up and unravel the line. Accordingly, this type of reel offers a better way to cast heavier lures and to spool up with the heavier line. Baitcasting reels also have tension knobs that apply direct tension to the spool so you can slow it down or speed it up with friction. Some newer models of baitcasting reels also have magnetic braking systems or centrifugal friction brakes on the inside of the spool. Another unique component of a baitcasting reel is the line guide which goes back and forth as a reel is engaged and the handle turned.
4. Use the Proper Rod
Choosing from the myriad of bass fishing rods in the sports shop and especially online can be quite an overwhelming experience for those who are just starting with fishing. However, the choosing process can be made simpler if you know what you’re looking for.
Most anglers use either a graphite rod or a composite rod when fishing for bass. Both of these two types of rod materials are suitable for bass fishing, though certain qualities make one better than the other.
Graphite rods are a top choice for many bass anglers. They are lightweight but very durable which means you should be able to enjoy using them for a long time. Also, graphite rods are more sensitive to vibrations which means you’d be able to feel the fish’ bite much better, which is kind of a big plus when you’re fishing in choppy waters.
Composite rods on the other hand are made from graphite and fiberglass. These bass fishing rods are also often called ‘cranking rods’ since they’re ideally used for crankbait fishing. The strength and durability of these rods are due to the graphite component, whereas the fiberglass component gives them more bend.
Rod action refers to how flexible or stiff the rod is. There are basically four types of rod action, and each of them can be helpful in different fishing scenarios.
Extra-fast action rods are pretty stiff and the only part of the rod that bends is the tip. The great thing about these rods is that they’re sensitive to vibrations and are great for fishing in areas with heavy cover. These also give you better control over big bass when they bite.
Fast-action rods are generally preferred by most freshwater bass anglers because they have a good mix of power and flexibility. Compared to extra-fast action rods, fast-action rods are more flexible since they bend more towards the middle of the rod.
Moderate-action rods bend almost all the way to the middle which makes them even more flexible than fast-action rods. Because the entire top half of the rod bends, they’re usually the top choice for bass fishermen who are using a light fishing line.
Slow-action rods are the most flexible of the lot since the bend goes throughout the entire length of the rod. This feature makes them an ideal choice for bass anglers who cast small lures and target small bass.
There are generally five categories of rod power, from heavy-power bass rods to ultra-light-power bass rods. Generally though, when you’re fishing for largemouth bass, you’ll want to use either a medium-heavy or a heavy-power rod. If you’re targeting a smallmouth, then a medium-power bass rod should be more than enough for the purpose.
So what is the right rod length for bass fishing? The answer will depend on two main factors: the casting distance and the type of bait used.
Short bass rods (between 6 to 7 feet long) are generally preferred by those who are fishing in small lakes or ponds and require short to medium casting distances. They’re perfect with small lures and for targeting small to medium-sized bass.
Long bass rods (between 7 to 9 feet long) are used in fishing areas where you may be required to cast more than 30 feet. If you’re aiming for largemouth bass, this would be the ideal length. Compared to short bass rods, long bass rods can handle heavy lures like heavy crankbaits, top-water lures, or deep-water jigs. Also, if you’re fishing from a float tube, you’ll want a longer brass rod since will help you accurately cast from a lower vantage point.
5. Choose a Reliable Line
There are three types of lines that can be used for bass fishing, namely: fluorocarbon, monofilament, and braid lines. There’s a place for all three line types and most (if not all) bass anglers carry all three with them whenever they hit the water.
Fluorocarbon lines are great for reaction baits and soft plastics, and because they are clear, they are more difficult for the bass to see. Fluorocarbon lines aren’t ideal for use with topwater baits since they sink and they don’t stretch as much as monofilaments.
Monofilament lines float unlike fluorocarbon lines, so they are actually a good choice if you’re using topwater baits. It’s also great for anglers who use reaction baits since they stretch a lot more than braid or fluorocarbon lines. This extra stretch also allows the fish to get the bait in its mouth better.
Braid lines have virtually no stretch and are incredibly stronger than monofilament or fluorocarbon lines with similar diameter size. Unfortunately, a braided line is much easier for fish to see, which is why this type of line is best employed while fishing in areas where there is a lot of vegetation or murky water conditions.
6. Bring Different Lures
Many beginning bass anglers usually feel overwhelmed with the assortment of lures they find in the market today. There are countless options available, ranging from simple and minimalistic lures to the more ornately designed and intricately looking ones. Anyway, you’ll want to have several of these in your tackle box so you can experiment and find the best lure to match any particular fishing condition. That said, here are some of the best lures you can use to improve your chances of catching bass the next time you head out into the water.
One lure that every bass angler should have in their tackle box is the basic jig. This sinking bait is a versatile piece since it can be used all year round and can be used through varying water depths. Jigs come in a variety of colors and have always been quite reliable in landing larger bass species.
The classic spinnerbait is a versatile lure and has proved to be very useful for many bass anglers. They come in an assortment of colors and are a great all-around bait to throw in any type of fishing situation or condition. Spinnerbaits are also generally easy to use and the throwing and retrieval techniques are simple enough to master.
Spinnerbaits are generally categorized by the type of blade used. When fishing for bass, you’re more likely to have success by using a willow leaf blade (slender and flashy design profile), a Colorado blade (rounded and vibration-producing), or an Indiana blade (a blended style that offers both flash and movement). When choosing which of the three to use, remember that you’ll want more vibration in murkier water and more flash in clearer water.
Crankbaits feature a hard-body profile and look pretty much like a baitfish. Some crankbaits even have small internal beads that are designed to rattle underwater, thereby creating more noise and attracting more attention. What differentiates it from jigs and spinnerbaits is the use of treble hooks which leaves more points to catch bass. However, this design profile is also its drawback since it also increases the chances of the hook getting snagged in various underwater debris like weeds and others.
Topwater lures are designed to be dragged on the water’s surface. Because of this, the bass will have no option but to attack from the bottom and aggressively grab the lure. In many instances, they even breach the surface which can add a little excitement to your fishing trip. Topwater lures are available in an assortment of styles like buzz baits, popping-style baits, topwater frogs, and others.
Soft Plastic Baits
Another lure that every bass angler should have in their tackle box is some form of soft plastic bait. These lures come in a wide variety of colors and shapes, from worms to lizards and crawfish, and more. Aside from being an economical choice, the silicone material that these lures are made from makes them look more realistic and life-like while they’re underwater.
7. Use the Right Hooks
Hook sizes can vary anywhere between 1/0 and 6/0. When fishing for bass, most anglers prefer to use a 4/0 hook size. In fact, this is the most common hook size for bass fishing and is used in a variety of applications. Most bass fishermen also prefer using an EWG (Extra Wide Gap) hook. These hooks have more space between the shank and the point compared to a standard hook.
Be sure to sharpen your hooks now and then. Some anglers would even recommend that you do this before every trip. It takes no more than a minute to do and helps to ensure that the hook penetrates through the bass boney jaws.
8. Bring the Necessary Tools
Aside from your bass rod, reels, and lures, you’ll also want to bring along certain tools for your fishing trips like line clippers for trimming excess lines, fishing pliers for removing a stubborn hook, and a sharpening stone or a file. There are several other things which you may need to bring, so choose a versatile tackle box, preferably with moveable dividers so you can change the storage configuration based on what lures and other items you own.
9. Use a Fish Finder
Technology has certainly been a big help for many fishermen. The development of lighter yet stronger fishing rods, improved lines, and smoother reels have all contributed much to the improvement of fishing. Another great improvement in the world of fishing is the development of the fish finder.
It is almost impossible for the naked eye to see the fish underwater. Using a portable fish finder, bass anglers can up their chances of bagging a bass significantly. However, do note that fish finders do not always give anglers a full picture of what’s going on under the water. Still, these devices can help you identify where the fish are and the different underwater structures where they may be hiding.
10. Get a License
Fishing licenses are required in most (if not all) state fishing grounds. This is especially true if you’re planning an out-of-state fishing trip. Along that line, note that some states have reciprocal agreements, meaning if you’re on a lake that is shared by multiple states, you may only need one state’s license. That said, do take some time to study the regulations for each state and know where those state boundaries are.
Some states may also prohibit fishing activities during the bass spawning period, which is usually during late winter in the southern regions and during late spring in the northern regions. Such regulations may be enforced to protect the spawning fish and ensure that there’ll be more fish available for the coming seasons.
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Although bass fishing isn’t generally that difficult, it can be quite challenging if you don’t have the necessary knowledge about how to catch bass fish. On top of that, you will need to have the right fishing gear and equipment if you want to increase your chances of landing a bass. Despite all these requirements, bass fishing can prove to be a really enjoyable and rewarding experience.