All you need to know about Bass Fishing!
Bass (Micropterus) Fishing is very similar to Saltwater spin fishing, except it is done in Freshwater, the principle remains the same.
Dams or freshwater lakes are generally great expanses of water with varying depths.
They house a variety of fish species such as Smallmouth, and Largemouth bass, Trout, Yellowfish, Eel, Barbel, Perch, Bluegill, Tilapia, Mudfish, Tigerfish, Bream and a variety of Carp.
Rivers run into and out of dams and are normally always populated by various fish species.
You will need to know where the best venues to target bass are situated!
What Bass Love:
Bass love structure such as trees, rocks, reeds, water grass, plants, any sunken objects, Jetties, slipways and dam walls.
Bass will feed aggressively on live baits such as crickets, grasshoppers, frogs, earthworms, flying-ants, fish fry, etc.
Bass will also readily take all forms of artificial baits, Lures, Poppers, Fly’s, Various soft baits and Spinners to mention a few.
Dams are generally safe and a kick boat or waders can be used to reach deeper water, however, care must be taken not to make too much disturbance in the water and spook the feeding fish.
Check for warning signs, some dams do have resident crocodiles.
Also, be on the lookout for tails sticking out of the water, this indicates fish feeding on the bottom.
Look for small pops of water on the surface, usually accompanied by a clooping, sucking sound, this indicates fish feeding on the surface.
Look for wakes, swirls, and any unusual movement in or on the water.
At night the bass tends to move into shallower water to feed off the banks, also because the fish fry is held up tight against the bank edges, so don’t go casting as far as you do in the daylight hours.
You want to be sure to use a noisy lure or one that gives off a lot of vibration at night. Try black or purple, you will be very surprised!
Weather Conditions & Bass Behavior:
Bass just love warm water and tend to feed more aggressively in the summer months.
Having said that, they do feed in the winter but not as much and they don’t chase a bait either.
It would be wise in winter to fish right on the ground, close to the structure and extremely slow. The ideal baits for this would be your weighted plastics.
Bass are very wary fish and they tend to shy away from the hunt when the water is very calm (mirror-like) and especially if it is very clean at the same time.
Bass generally go off into deeper water and refrain from feeding in cold frontal systems and during storms.
Having said this, they do come back aggressively right after the storm. They also feed very aggressively just before a cold front or an approaching storm.
Bass, like most fish, do not tolerate a sudden change in water temperature and will definitely go off the feed when the water temperature suddenly gets colder or warmer.
They will move to where the water temperature is more tolerable.
When the water is extremely warm, I have found the bass to be most active in the early hours of the morning and late afternoon into the night.
Insects tend to get blown off of vegetation and into the water and the fish know this, they tend to frequent this side of the dam in order to be close to the food source.
If you carry your GPS then you can save your spots where you find good structure or where the fish seem to feed well.
So if you can get to a spot where you can fish with the wind at your back then your success rate will be much improved, also having the wind at your back helps to improve your casting ability.
Methods of Bass Fishing:
Generally, a lot of casting for bass is performed from the land where one walks along the banks looking for structure or likely spots and casting to them in the hopes of getting a take.
Contrary to the beliefs of some fishermen, bank fishing can be very productive when one knows where when and how!
The bass caught by the Author and displayed here as the featured image was landed from the bank just before a thunderstorm.
This was one of five similar fish, within a duration of 50 minutes.
When landing a decent fish like this one will want to capture the moment or even take some awesome underwater footage of the fight!
When fishing from the bank, if one wanted to reach the deeper structure without getting wet or cold, then it would be wise to invest in a pair of waders.
The advantage of having some sort of watercraft is the ability to get to spots that are not accessible on foot.
Also, to move around fairly quickly from spot to spot.
So, they are quite effective but also a lot of work, or maybe you just put it down to a good source exercise!
One important thing to remember is not to get caught in strong winds or a storm or both.
It so happened once, that I had crossed the dam which took me about an hour in my kick boat and when I came back in storm conditions it took me almost three times that!
So always watch for clouding over, darkening of the sky and listen for distant thunder.
If the wind starts blowing from the side where you launched, head back immediately as close to the bank as possible, believe me, you will want to stop and rest. A trip against the wind is no joke!
One can make use of a canoe, paddle ski or a rowboat in order to move around on the water.
Many bass fishermen use a motor-propelled boat in order to get around.
This is most convenient but you will require a trailer and a vehicle big enough to tow it.
In some cases, it is also quite difficult to launch and load the boat if you are on your own and generally one has to find someone to take with who can lend a helping hand.
This form of water transportation can be very comfortable and has no problem maneuvering in strong wind and storm conditions in order to get back to the shore.
Boats are rigged with petrol operated motors for a quick change of position and also fitted with a “Sneaker” a battery-powered motor for moving around slowly and quietly while targeting fish in a certain area.
- You will need cool & warm clothes & a rain suit.
- You will need a hat, preferably wide-brimmed to protect you from the sun.
- You will need a pair of comfortable shoes and or shoes designed for walking in water, (available at your tackle shop.)
- You will need a pair of polarised sunglasses to protect your eyes from the glare off the water and also to aid you in spotting feeding or swimming fish.
- Always have some drinking water and a snack at hand.
- You will need a Cadac gas light, torch and or a headlamp for night fishing.
- You will need a knife, scissors, long-nosed pliers, star & flat screwdriver, a side cutter and insulation tape for that unexpected quick fix emergency which might present itself regarding your rod or reel.
- You should always carry a forceps to remove a hook from the mouth of a fish, especially if the lure is lodged quite deep.
- I have found the medical forceps available for purchase at the pharmacy to be perfect for the job.
- For bigger fish, you will need a landing net to land your fish.
Some Topwater Bass Lures!
Surface fishing for bass is absolutely adrenalin pumping excitement that is difficult to explain.
It is the way that the bass flies up out of the water and pounces onto your lure with a sudden splash, “Boom!” What a rush. Click right here on this video to get an idea!
Surface lures are fished with a slow repetitive pull & stop retrieve, sometimes with a long pause on the stop.
Crankbaits have a vivid darting & vibrating action in the water that is very attractive to a hunting bass.
Some swim just below the surface, some midwater and some dive deep.
These can be fished with a slow or fast, jerky retrieve and sometimes even a pause in between.
These lures are fished with a medium to fast, continuous retrieve.
The spinning blade is highly visible and attractive to hunting bass!
Here are a few out of hundreds of soft baits for bass fishing! Soft baits for bass are attached to special large gape hooks using various techniques.
These are cast in and left to sink down on to the bottom and then fished with a “swim stop-swim stop” or an extremely slow retrieve.
Here are the different ways of rigging them.
To see the rigs demonstrated, you can check the video above.
- Texas-Style: This is the most common setup used. Here we will use an offset-wide gape bass hook & a lead bass bullet sinker. light for fishing shallow water and heavier for fishing deep water. The sinker is threaded onto the mainline and then the hook is attached. Push the hook through the head of the plastic, pull it through and push the tip of the hook back into the plastic making it weedless or snag-free.
- Pegged Texas-Style: exactly the same as above, except here we use a toothpick to jam the led weight so that it sits just above the head of the plastic and ensuring that the weight has no movement. I prefer this method as the plastic does not get bumped down on the hook by the weight when you cast out.
- Carolina Style: This one is rigged much the same way as the Texas rig, except here a piece of line about 30 to 40cm is tied to a swivel and the end of that line is tied to the hook. Now you slide a lead weight onto your mainline followed by a couple of beads for extra noise and they also protect the knot from the sinker. Now tie the mainline to your swivel and you’re done.
- Shakey Head Style: This is the same as a Texas-style rig, except instead of using a lead bullet weight, we use a round weighted drop shot style jig head.
- Finesse Style: This is a weightless style rig, you will fish the Texas-style weightless rigging the plastic bait the conventional way or rigging it just through the head of the bait on a wide gape short shank hook.
- The other way to rig finesse style is to push the shot shank hook through the middle of a plastic worm so that both head and tail hang down on either side. This can be fished weightless in shallow water or weighted to get more depth.
The bigger flies for bass and the smaller ones for smaller fish that are often used as live bait.
Bass are caught regularly using flies.
When the bass is acting wary it is often a good idea to have a spinner trailing a fly as if one is chasing the other.
This often results in a strike, the bass will dash out and grab the one of its “choice” and more often than not, it will be the fly.
A fly fished on its own or with a dropper fly attached, will give you good results when using a fly rod.
“PLEASE remember to practice Catch & Release!” in order to preserve our fish stocks!
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