Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides)is a ubiquitous fish species able to survive and procreate in a variety of different water systems as long as there is an adequate food supply, sufficient hiding places and optimum areas to breed.
They can be found in a wide variety of watery locations; from big lakes to small ponds provided aforementioned favourable conditions are present. Bass can reach a respectable weight which is also determined by the available food supply and size of the body of water they inhabit and good size bass can be anything from 2 kilograms upwards.
Now, one of the major reasons why bass is such a popular sport species is because it is a voracious and aggressive predator, always on the lookout for something a bit smaller than itself to turn into a quick meal.
Anything fitting this description in its near vicinity can easily become breakfast, lunch or dinner. This trait makes it highly susceptible to art lure fishing and therefore the ideal species to introduce the beginner angler to the joys of sport fishing.
My bass fishing adventures started round about the age of 6 when my dad gave me my first fishing rod and reel. Himself not a big fisherman, he nevertheless thought it prudent to introduce his son to the sport in view of the fact that we lived in a farming area with various lakes and ponds dotted around, some of them harbouring healthy populations of largemouth bass.
The part of Africa where I grew up in have long, mild autumn and spring seasons as well an extended summer period. The only times when bass are not really interested in chasing lures is during a short winter spell of about three months.
Needles to mention that I hunted them relentlessly whenever the opportunity presented itself. Some of the best times of my life were spent next to the water’s edge with my little rod, reel and a box full of lures hunting bass.
The thrills and excitement I experienced in trying to outwit this wily creature will last me for two lifetimes!
For the purposes of this article, I will focus on the largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides). which colour can vary from a very light yellow (in muddy waters), to various shades of green, depending on the clarity of the water and the presence of local aquatic vegetation.
What Do I Need to Fish for Bass?
#1 – The Rod
Most store-bought fishing rods are made from either fiberglass or graphite. This material is woven into what looks like sheets of cloth. The finer these materials are woven, the faster the action of the rod. The weave is measured in modulus. A high modulus rod would be stiffer, faster, lighter and more sensitive, but will also be more brittle and therefore easier to snap.
Rod handles also can be made of many different types of materials such as foam, cork or wood. Make sure that the handle fits your hand comfortably.
If you need to cast quite a distance as well as medium to large lures (poppers and crankbait) I would suggest you choose a 7-foot rod made of fibreglass. However, if you want to focus more on accuracy and smaller lures, a 6- to 6 1/2-foot rod is the one you should look at.
Because fibreglass rods are more flexible, it will assist in fighting a big fish with less risk of a broken line or rod.
#2 – The Reel
For a choice of reels we will look at three types. Spinning reels, spincast reels and baitcast reels.
Spinning reels, also known as “open-face reels,” are normally positioned underneath the rod. They are very versatile reels and can be applied for most types of fishing.
Compared to spincast reels they pose more challenges due to the fact that you have to hold the line with a finger before flipping the bail (the metal arm that can prevent the line from coming out of the spool) over by hand prior to every cast.
Also known as a “closed-face reel,” spincast reels (which also goes by the name of closed-face reels,) are positioned on top of the fishing rod. Here you find a push-button at the back of the reel with the spool being on the inside. Due to the fact that they are very easy to use spincast reels are considered the ideal reel to form part of a beginner’s fishing setup.
Like spincast reels, baitcast reels also sit on top of the rod, however the similarities kind of end there. Because the spool of this reel is external and not static, you have to use your thumb in order to dictate how much of the line is released when you cast it.
Remember though, that you have to exert control of your line with your thumb while casting with a bait cast reel otherwise you run the risk of getting the dreaded backlash or “bird’s nest” as it’s also known. The salient point to remember here is to stop the spool running a fraction of a second before your lure hits the water.
Bait cast reels are better suited to specific types of lures so they are ideal for hunting bass.
#3 – The Lures
There are a myriad of different lures to choose from and in order to create some order out of the potential chaos, I will discuss them briefly under: 1) spinnerbaits, 2) crankbaits, 3) poppers and 4) soft plastics.
Spinnerbaits are probably the most well-known and widely used of all artificial lures used by bass anglers the world over. You will immediately recognize a spinnerbait by its leaf shaped metal blade and cigar shaped, weighted body with either a single hook or treble hooks at the business end.
Crankbaits are normally fashioned out of balsa wood, plastic or any similar lightweight materials and they are usually armed with two or three sets of treble hooks.
As far as shapes and sizes are concerned you can find them in quite a variety of forms. The two I mostly use are the one shaped like a minnow with a “lip” in front which gives it a wobbly action while being retrieved and the banana shaped one (like the classic Lazy Ike) which gets it action from its peculiar shape.
Certain crankbaits consist of two parts with a little hinge connecting them. This articulation allows them to swim with an exaggerated wriggly action which make them even more enticing to hungry bass. Crankbaits can be categorised in ones that float on top, others that operate in mid-water and finally divers that head for the bottom.
Poppers are strictly floaters and are used to hoodwink bass looking for a meal in the surface film. They, also, are made of hard plastic and other light, durable materials.
Bass, being the opportunistic species they are, do a lot of hunting on top water and that is where poppers can be devastating under certain conditions. They are designed to imitate injured frogs or mice as well as big bugs struggling in the surface film.
Soft plastic baits mostly resemble big, fat, juicy worms, but they also come in other shapes like frogs, salamanders, fish and grubs to name but a few. Soft plastics are, mostly, fished on the bottom or close to structure and the retrieve is a lot slower comparing to other lures.
#4 – The Tackle box
For bass fishing I would recommend a hard tackle box, because most of your fishing will be done from the water’s edge and a good, sturdy tackle box is the most practical container to carry around a pond or lake.
Hard tackle boxes are made of durable and long lasting materials which can withstand most trials presented by the natural elements while on a fishing trip. They can be battered by all kinds of weather conditions and still come through fine.
They are designed to keep all of your tackle as dry as possible putting to good use the heavy duty compartments and seals.
#5 – The Clothing
Because fishing is an outdoors activity it goes without saying you need sturdy and durable clothes which are able to withstand various weather conditions, rough terrain and dense vegetation. A sturdy pair of boots is therefore non-negotiable, because you may encounter formidable obstacles in your quest for that secret fishing spot.
A fishing jacket made of durable material is also an important item to protect its owner against thorns, branches, sharp cliff edges and all kinds of nasty insects.
Under certain conditions it is advisable to be in possession of a pair of high-quality waders. By entering the water in a snug and comfortable pair of waders can open quite a few novel opportunities and give you a considerable advantage over a fellow angler who are stuck at the water’s edge confined to a limited fishing area.
#1 – The Rod
#2 – The Reel
#3 – The Lures
Best of the Best – Fishing Lure Set
#4 – The Tackle Box
Best of the Best – Plano Guide Series 7771
#5 – Clothing
Best of the Best – Fishing Jacket
Bass Fishing Tips
If you approach a body of water for the first time and you are unsure where to start looking for bass, I would suggest to first do a thorough scouting of your surroundings.
Bass are structure orientated creatures and the best places to find them are therefore spots close to clusters of water plants and submerged trees, logs or rocks. Remember that any man made structures such as bridge pillars, jetties or boat moorings can also be very productive fishing spots as long as they provide the necessary cover and potential ambush areas for prey.
As a result, the best strategy is always to head for these locations first and concentrate most of your angling efforts in the vicinity of such structures. Your technique should also involve positioning your lure as close as possible to any feature in order to attract the attention of a resident fish.
That first cast is, more often than not, the most crucial one so be very vigilant after starting your retrieve, because that’s generally when most strikes will occur.
Bass, like most other predatory fish, prefer to go hunting during low-light conditions. That means either early morning or late afternoon towards dusk. So, plan your bass fishing trips to coincide with these times in order to be more successful.
That is not to say that you won’t be able to catch them during the remainder of the day, just that it becomes a bit more of a challenge, depending on the location where you are fishing at.
As mentioned before, focus your attention on any kinds of structure and, during bright, sunlit days, choose deep diving lures or plastic baits to lure them from the depths.
When you are fishing in a small pond always keep in mind that fish are able to detect vibrations through their lateral line and that does not only mean vibrations emanating from the water.
Heavy treading close to the water’s edge may also alert a potential prey. So take care to tread lightly and also, if the water is very clear, try and stay as unobtrusive as possible. Always be aware of the position of the sun and try not to cast a shadow over a potential fishing spot.
Wearing Polaroid glasses on days like these will be of a great assistance especially to remove the glare from the water’s surface in order to detect both structure and fish.
A lot of beginner anglers also make the mistake of thinking bass only inhabit the deepest parts of a specific body of water. Remember they frequently hunt in the shallows if there is a bit of vegetation so make your first casts in those areas even before you reach the water’s edge.
Bass Fishing FAQs
Do Bass Behave Differently at Different Times of the Day?
Yes, as with most predatory species you will find that the best times to hunt bass are during the early mornings or late afternoon/early evening.
At these times of the day there is limited sunlight penetration into the water which makes it easier for bass to surprise their prey. Overcast weather conditions can also have the same effect.
Should I Expect to Lose My Lures Often?
Bass are structure orientated fish which means you will generally find them close or under submerged logs, branches, rocks, piers or jetties. Furthermore, the best piece of real estate will be occupied by the bigger specimen and those are the ones most anglers focus on.
The upshot of all these facts are that in order to catch the bigger bass, you have to place your lure as close as possible to these underwater hazards. More often than not you will get stuck on something, or a strong fish will grab your lure and wrap your line around something that won’t budge. Therefore, always keep stocked up with enough lures while on a fishing trip.
What Weather Conditions Are Best for Bass Fishing?
As indicated, any kind of low light conditions will embolden bass and therefore, if you are not fishing during the early morning or late afternoon, I suggest you head to the water on cloudy or overcast days.
Even if a cold front or big storm has past, the weather has settled to some extent and there is only a light drizzle, fishing can be surprisingly good. Try to avoid fishing on bright, sunny, cloudless days, because bass will then move deep into underwater structure.
How Many Bass Can I Expect to Land in a Day?
Well, that depends on quite a few things. Firstly, what type of location are you fishing at? Is it a small pond which only harbour relatively few bass or a sizeable lake with lots of vegetation, structure and potential bass hide-outs? The time of year and season can also play a significant role, for instance, I consider the best periods for bass fishing to be early spring before bass start spawning and again just before the cold sets in during late autumn or early winter.
Could a Bass Break My Line?
Yes, if the drag on your reel is too tight a strong and determined fish can easily snap your line with a sudden burst of energy. Also, if your line is damaged or some of your knots are not up to standard you can lose your fish.
Quite often, especially when fishing close to submerged structures, a bass will wrap your line around said structure and then you can kiss both fish and lure goodbye.
So, we hope you found some of this infomation useful. If you have your own thoughts on this topic then be sure to let us know. We respond to our trolls whenever we can!