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Bass Fishing Guide Tips & Gear

Bass Fishing

What is bass fishing?

Angling for North American game fish, colloquially known as black bass is called bass fishing. Angling is a fishing technique which uses  “angle”, a fish hook that is often attached to a fishing line that is in turn attached to a fishing rod. There are predominantly two kinds of bass – smallmouth bass and largemouth bass. The most popular gamefish, smallmouth bass, can weigh up to 15 pounds measuring nearly 30 inches long.

Before going out fishing, know the local fishing laws because fishing might be prohibited in some areas because of environmental and other factors. If you decide to use a live bait, remember not to dump the leftover bait into the water or the surroundings, as the introduction of foriegn species to an ecosystem might also be against the law and lead to the newly introduced species contaminating that ecosystem.

Fishing has been around since humans have been settling down beside bodies of water, which is a really really long time. So, there are thousands of methods and techniques developed for and around fishing. For a beginner who is excited to make their first catch, all these options available out there might be overwhelming.

Bass Fishing Gear

Before we cast our lines there are several things to consider like – 

Where and how?

Fishing from a boat or kayak drastically increases your fishing options but if you do not have any prior experience with boats, you can still catch bass, fishing from the shore or a dock.

If you can get on a boat, bass, like any sensible predator, will always try to dine where there is abundant prey and the feeding is most profitable. These fish soon get the message when there is a high concentration of prey, such as the seasonal shoaling of sandeels, whitebait or mackerel, and they will congregate rapidly to feed on them. These are times when anglers can have red letter days. 

Fishing rods and reels:

Investing in a decent fishing rod and spinning reel probably goes a long way. If properly taken care of, they can last a lifetime. A baitcaster is an advanced spinning reel

that gives an extra functionality of traction on the reel with brakes, so that you can cast the bait at longer distances by swinging the rod and can also choose the depth to which you need the bait to sink. With a baitcasting combo you can use a heavier line and use heavier lures and a quality graphite rod provides more power while dealing with vegetation and fighting fish. There is a learning curve involved with baitcaster but the benefits you can reap from it are worth it.

Hook :

To choose the right bait and use appropriate gear, it is important to know what kind of fish you are going for. Sea bass prefers to be on the safe side, so it only preys on creatures it can swallow with ease. The larger its prey, the longer it takes for the bass to subdue and swallow it. So, hooks can be chosen according to the size of the catch you are going for. Small hook for a small fish and a large hook for a larger fish. 

Bait or lures?

Bait fishing teaches newbies the absolute basics of the sport, like which creatures do the fish prey on and where the bass expects to find its food and, how and when they prey on them. They feed on almost everything including waste thrown in water to any creature small enough to devour. The exact nature of their diet is dependent on its region but their meal typically consists of hard crabs and various small fish. 

The type of bait that provides the best chance of catching the fish changes from time to time depending on the season, the temperature of water and visibility in the water. Once you have the basics down on which bait gives you the best catch, you can move to fishing using lures.

Lures are made of soft or hard plastic molded into the shape of prey, which lures the fish in, to take a bite, only to get caught in the hook and pulled out by you. These lures when in water are designed to move around and imitate the motion of prey to make it look like food for the fish, which tricks them into biting it. There are a wide range of lures to select from like jigs which are good for fishing year round, crankbait and jerkbait can also be used year round and are very effective in catching bass.

Fishing knot :

Once we have all the gear necessary, we have to assemble them. They are designed to snap in and screw tight. It is necessary to tie the lure to the fishing line. You need to make sure you use the right kind of knot for this, because the wrong one may lead to the line rubbing against itself, resulting in a  weak point Which might break while pulling the fish after you got a bite. 

The palomar knot is the best for a beginner. This is the fastest, strongest, and easiest bass fishing knot and it pays to learn this knot the right way. It works equally well with mono, fluoro, and braided fishing lines. Tie this knot directly to your hooks and lures. The key is to never cross the strands of line. When the line lies clean, they slide and cinch without generating heat that weakens the line. Learn how to tie a palomar knot (or how not to tie a palomar knot) here

Bass fishing tips and techniques

We present to you some tried and tested techniques, and some tips from finalists of bass fishing competitions from around the world to make sure you have a fruitful bass fishing experience.

1. Save Shredded Worms

Save your torn up plastic worms. Bass like to ambush wounded prey, so a beat-up worm is perfect to use, especially in shallow water.

– Anthony Gagliardi, 2006 FLW Tour Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year

2. Red Fools the Fish

In shallow cover—wood, stumps, clumps of grass—I like to use a spinner bait with a red or pink head, and a crank bait with red hooks. The red tricks the fish into thinking that the bait’s injured, and they’ll bite at it.

– George Cochran, 2005 Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship winner

3. Skip Your Bait

When you cast, stop halfway instead of following through, similar to a check swing in baseball. The lure skittles over the water to your target once it hits the water surface. It’s a good way to get under docks and other structures.

Mike Iaconelli, 2004 CITGO Bassmaster Classic champion

4. Keep Your Hooks Sharp

I use a file to sharpen my hooks every time I catch a fish and before every trip. It takes 30 seconds. Bass have boney jaws, so a sharp hook is more apt to penetrate the fish.

– Mark Zona, host of ESPN Outdoors

5. Look at Your Livewell Water

Bass are notorious for spitting up what they were feeding on, when you put them in the livewell. From there you can tell what color lure or which kind of lure to throw the rest of the day.

– Matt Herren, No. 2 ranked angler, 2006 Wal-Mart FLW Tour

6. Face the Wind

Sacrifice some distance in your casts and fish with the wind in your face. It is better for the bass to find the bait before it finds your boat as bass always swim with the current. Over that, the noise of water slapping your hull will carry away from the spot you’re fishing, which is good.

– Ish Monroe, winner of the 2006 Battle on the Border

7. Fish Shallow in the Spring

Bass hang out in spawning beds in the spring. Concentrate on shallow areas, especially in pockets and coves protected from the wind because this is where they like to guard their eggs. They’ll bite as much out of irritation with the lure as they will out of hunger.

– Jay Yelas, 2003 Bassmaster Angler of the Year

8. Make Your Bait Seasonal

Feeding habits of the bass vary depending on the time of year. The general rule is early in the year they like crawfish, so use peach-colored patterns. In the summer and fall, use chrome or silver baits as they like shad during this time.

– Mike Hawkes, 2006 Wal-Mart FLW Series event winner, Lake Cumberland

9. Fish before the storm

The best time to fish bass is before a storm comes through, and the worst time to fish them is after. The pressure makes the bass more active, so watch for a wall of clouds moving in. Bass aren’t likely to bite when it’s too pretty out.

– Forrest L. Wood, Ranger Boats founder and namesake of FLW Outdoors

10. Bug Those Bass

Bass is an ornery fish. Tapping at the bass upsets it into biting your lure. Bass take cover and like the lure presented to them at different angles. I’ve tossed lures a hundred times onto the same location until finally getting a bite.

– Ray Scott, bass fishing legend and founder of BASS

Striped bass fishing

Striped bass are found from Florida to Nova Scotia, all along the Atlantic coast, and are caught as far north as Hudson Bay. They are of significant value as sporting fish.They have 7-8 longitudinal black stripes running from their gills to the tail. They can weigh over 20 Kilos and grow as long as 4 feet. The striped bass runs up the river into fresh water bodies to spawn and then again late in fall to shelter. 

Striped bass are opportunistic feeders and can be caught using a wide variety of bait. Live baits such as mackerel, squid, anchovies and clams can be used as bait but the bait that will give you the most success depends on the area you are fishing at. Consult a local bait shop to get the right one for that area. A lure resembling local forage can also increase the success rate. Fluorocarbon reels are often used to catch striped bass as the fish can not see the fluorocarbon line underwater.

Striped bass can be fished all year round, in almost any condition but understanding the stripers behaviour can greatly increase the odds of a successful catch. Striped bass prefer waters that are around 7 to 18 degrees Celsius. There is no point in fishing for stripers in waters with temperature out of this range as they would have migrated towards their preferred water temperature zones. On a hot sunny day they can be found around 4m deep from the surface and on a colder day just below the water surface. Odds of catching striped bass can be greatly increased by fishing at dusk or dawn as they like to hunt the smaller fish under the cover of darkness

Stripers are prone to fedding when there is water movement as the currents stir up the sediment, smaller fish feed on the nutrients found in this stirred up sediment and naturally striper feeds on these smaller fish.

Top bass fishing spots

  1. Lake Champlain, Vermont / New York : This spot can be called bass fishing mecca for the northeast. The bottom of the lake is mostly flat with plenty of “weed”, that shelters the largemouth and the deep rocky northern part of the lake offers plenty of smallmouth.
  2. Lake Oahe, South Dakota : This lake spans around 370,000 acres. It is one of the lesser talked about fishing spots which is stocked with large a number of smallmouths. It is also full of gizzard shad for forage. The size of smallmouths found here averages around 18 to 20 inches.
  3. Mississippi river, Wisconsin : The part of the river near La Crosse, Wisconsin has everything a bass angler needs. From clear water smallies to largemouths that take cover under the lily pads. This is one of the places where you can have the most fun fishing for bass. You can get a catch here using any fishing technique you want because of the diverse habitat found here.
  4. Sam Rayburn reservoir : This reservoir is located deeep in the heaaaart of texaaaas. It is 114,000 acres of heaven for bass anglers. The average size of the bass here has been tremendous lately.
  5. Lake Tohopekaliga, Florida : Known to locals as lake Toho. This lake looks like a typical florida lake  filled with hydrillas, lily pads and other grasses. But the bass here is unlike any other. They weigh around 10 to 13 pounds.