Bass Fishing Basics: How to Catch Bass

Bass Fishing Basics: How to Catch Bass

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When you ask an angler what he/she likes to fish for, odds are that angler will mention bass among the list of favorite catches. Bass are one of the most popular fish to catch. They are aggressive and prominent. Whether you are fishing for large mouth bass or small mouth bass, knowing the right techniques, times of the day and seasons, and lures to use will help you succeed. This article will cover the bass fishing basics so you can have that great catch.

Bass Fishing Basics for Best Time to Bass Fish

Different seasons will call for different fishing techniques. For bass fishing basics, you need to know when is best for catching bass, and what different times mean for how bass behave. 

Trisha McKee Large Mouth Bass Caught Kayak Fishing

Spring

The best time to fish for bass is in the Spring or pre-spawn. You will want to go when the water reaches 55 to 60 degrees. This is when bass will begin the mating cycle. They will start to be active after a long winter of inactivity. Bass fishing for this part of the year should be done close to the shore and close to the surface. Keep in mind, bass will move to the warmer water during the chilly Spring. This means that they will be at the north end of the body of water, as the north end heats up the quickest. During this time, bass will also be in shallow waters. Large-sized bass that usually inhabit deeper waters will be easier to catch.

Fall

In the Fall, the cooler waters bring the baitfish in schools. Bass feed off these before their winter of inactivity, so it pays to know the temperatures and find the sweet spots. Next to the Spring, this is the best time to fish. Once the water temperature hits 50 degrees or below, bass become lethargic, making it more difficult to catch them.

Summer

In the Summer, bass like to hunker down in cooler waters, near the bottom of the body of waters. The best time to fish during Summer is an hour before dawn and an hour before dusk. That is when bass are most active. However, it is always possible to lure bass to the surface if you have the right bait. As long as the temperature is 80 degrees or below, bass will remain active and willing to work to catch food.

Weather Bass Fishing Basics

Bass Fishing Before A Storm Can Be Excellent Fishing Time

On cloudy days, bass are much more active. When the sun is not shining, bass are more out in the open. For sunny days, bass are more apt to hide. Their food will have to come to them.

When the water is at a cooler temperature, you will want to use slower moving bait. Use faster, more aggressive bait when the water is at a warmer temperature.

Windy days are great for bass fishing. Although many anglers dislike fishing on windy days, it can be a successful factor. Bass are more active and bite more aggressively during windy days. Also, the water is rougher, so bass are less likely to be spooked by a boat’s movements. 

Another thing to remember is that bass are active before a storm. It is a good time to fish to catch that prize bass. A bad time to fish is right after a storm.

Location Bass Fishing Basics

Bass love structure a cover in the water

Bass fishing basics will tell you that it is important to know where bass reside. Bass like to be around cover. This means they like to live near physical items in the body of water. Items such as logs, fallen trees, brush piles, and rocks. 

Structure describes the contours of the bottom of the lake. Drop-offs, ledges, walls, and bumps are included in this description. You will want a map of the body of water you are fishing if you are not already familiar with the layout. This is the easiest way to discover the contour of the bottom and where bass will be hanging out. 

You will want to find vegetation. This includes lily pads, grasses, and coontail. Bass use this for shade and also to hunt for smaller fish. 

Best Lures to Use

Knowing what lures to use is bass fishing basics. It can make the difference between getting that great catch or leaving empty-handed. 

Fish More: Best Largemouth Bass Fishing Lures

Bass are aggressive, and there is not much they will not eat. It is important to know your surroundings when deciding what kind of lure or bait to use. You will have to be willing to try out different options, as bass like everything, but it depends on the time, the location, and simply what they are chasing that day. If you are fishing in an area where there are a lot of frogs, a frog lure would work best. If there is an abundance of baitfish, you might want to choose live bait to blend in and get a bite. 

Lures can prove to be quite successful when fishing for bass. There are three basic kinds of lures that you will want to use: crankbaits, spinner baits, and plastic worms. 

You will want to have different colors of lures. This ensures you will have a winning catch depending on which color entices the bass in the location you are fishing at. Have a natural, muted color, and a bright color lure to switch it up when necessary. 

Crankbaits

BAIKALBASS Bass Fishing Crankbait Lures
BAIKALBASS Bass Fishing Crankbait Lures

Crankbaits are the most popular choice when fishing for bass. These lures move quickly and resemble the small fish that bass hunt. They come in a variety of styles and colors, so the angler has many choices to try if one particular style does not work. 

Spinners

Strike King Finesse KVD Bass Fishing Spinnerbait
Strike King Finesse KVD Bass Fishing Spinnerbait

Spinners are slightly less common, but it is important to remember that bass are aggressive hunters, so a bright moving object can catch its attention. The spinner lures spin and emit a sound that can lure a bass to it. These are great to use because they can be used in many conditions year-round. But with spinners, it takes patience as bass will sometimes bite the blade instead of the hook. If you can stick with this lure, however, it can prove fruitful. 

Plastic Worms

Zoom Magnum II Worm Pack of 20 Bass Fishing
Zoom Magnum II Worm

Plastic worms mimic live earthworms without the inconvenience of taking live bait with you. These lures can be great for inactive bass at the bottom of the water with a slow drag technique. This type of lure comes with many different possibilities of techniques. It also comes in many sizes and colors, giving the angler many choices and chances to lure the bass to bite. And when your plastic worm gets torn up, it is still good to use. Bass like to ambush wounded prey.

Other Types of Lures

BOOYAH Boo Jig - Green Pumpkin - 3-8th oz Great Bass Fishing Lure
BOOYAH Boo Jig – Green Pumpkin – 3-8th oz Great Bass Fishing Lure

Some other choices include jigs, top-water lures, and swimbaits. Jigs are a good choice when fishing around structures such as wood or docks. Top-water lures include choices like frogs and prey fish. This is a great choice when you see bass jumping to the surface to catch food around weeds. Swimbaits are ideal to use pre-spawn and are known to catch trophy-sized bass. 

The important thing in bass fishing basics is to take note of your surroundings. If you see bass jumping and moving around, try larger lures to entice them. If there are no bass in sight, they might be hiding and a smaller, slow-moving lure might be best to try.

Live Bait

Bass Fishing with Live Bait Crawfish

Live bait is a great option when fishing for bass. Minnows, crawfish, frogs, and worms are examples of live bait. Worms work well and are easier to carry. If you do not use them, you can simply keep them cool and in dirt until the next time you go fishing. Minnows and crawfish are a bit more difficult because you must keep them in a bucket of water. 

Fish More: Best Largemouth Bass Fishing Lures

Bass Fishing Basic Equipment

It is important to have the right equipment to give you a great chance at successful fishing. Choose the equipment that works best for your style, for the type of fishing you do, and for the conditions.

Reels

There are three main types of reels you can use for bass fishing with spinning and baitcasting being the most popular. 

Spin Cast

Spin Cast Reels are Excellent for People or Kids Who Are Just Starting to Fish

A spin cast reel, or a closed face reel, is great for the beginner angler. You do not need to execute any advanced techniques when using the spin cast reel. It makes casting simple. You simply hold down the button located on the front of the reel and release it as you cast your line. Then you rotate the handle to lock the reel once the line gets to where you want it.

Spinning Reel

Spinning Style Reel Top Down Fishing Shot

The spinning reel, or an open faced reel, takes a bit more finesse to work. The spinning reel is a fixed spool that has an exposed line. It is simply to cast, but it requires that you stop the line by hand. Cast the line and to stop, flip the lever over the top of the spool and hold the line with your finger.

Baitcasting Reel

Baitcasting Reels are Popular for Bass Fishing

A baitcasting reel allows for more accuracy, but it requires a bit higher of a skill level to operate one correctly. This reel allows the angler to cast lures, such as spinner baits, crankbaits, and jigs with amazing accuracy. The drawback to this is that there a drag resistance. The line flows directly from the spool. It does not spin off the reel like with the spinning reel. You have to put your thumb on the spool as the line flows off, and the pressure of the thumb has to be just right. It takes a bit of expertise and practice to get it just right. If the thumb pressure is off, you will end up with a bird’s nest of tangled line.

Rods

There are different rods that have advantages and disadvantages when it comes to bass fishing basics. 

Click here to read more on the different types of rods and their uses.

Casting Rod

The most commonly used rod when fishing for bass is the casting rod. Casting rods can handle heavy lines and large lures that are used frequently in bass fishing. These rods promote ease of use and the comfort needed with bass fishing techniques. 

Spinning Rod

A spinning rod is most ideal for lighter lines and smaller lures and can handle these more gracefully. Spinning reels are best used in open waters. 

Graphite Rods

Most rods are made of graphite. These rods are lightweight and tend to work best when you are spending long hours on the water. 

Composite Rods

Composite rods are rods that are made from both graphite and fiberglass. As well as being lightweight, composite rods are durable. These rods are best for when using crankbaits.

Fast Action Rod

Flexibility in rods is referred to as rod action. A fast action rod is best for bass fishing because it puts the pressure on the fish.

Long Vs. Short Rod

A long rod provides better distance when casting, but a short rod gives the angler more control and can allow one to cast in tighter spots.

Bass Fishing Basics in Largemouth and Smallmouth

When it comes to bass fishing basics, you need to know the differences between the largemouth bass and the smallmouth bass. There is more than just the size. Having the knowledge of what separates the largemouth from the smallmouth can help you specify your fishing techniques so you can catch exactly what you want.

Bass Fishing Basics for Largemouth Bass

Largemouth bass
Micropterus salmoides (Lacepede, 1802)

Largemouth bass are the most popular game fish in North America. The main appeal of the largemouth bass is its general accessibility to anglers with any level of expertise and its ability to bite on any variety of lures. 

Appearance of Largemouth Bass

Largemouth bass tend to be green with dark spots that form a lateral stripe in the middle of either side. The underside of this fish can range in color from a light green to white. 

When its mouth is closed, its jawline goes far back behind the back margin of the eye. It has a nearly divided dorsal fin. The anterior portion has nine spines. The posterior portion has 12 to 13 soft rays.

In its first year of life, the largemouth bass will grow four to six inches. For its second year, it will grow eight to twelve inches. In three years, the largemouth bass will grow to sixteen inches. or more

Top Predators

Largemouth Bass Caught on a Jig

Other than people, largemouth bass are the top predators in the aquatic ecosystem. At just two inches, they are already active predators. Adult largemouth fish feed on other fish and large invertebrates, including crayfish and worms. They even feed on smaller bass. 

Life of a Largemouth

In the Spring, once the water reaches a temperature of approximately 60 degrees, largemouth bass begin to spawn. The male starts to build nests in two to eight feet of water, usually in quiet spots with lots of vegetation using soft mud or in logs. Female largemouth fish lays the eggs and is then chased away by the male largemouth who then vigilantly guards the nest. The eggs hatch in five to ten days.

The lifespan of the largemouth bass is sixteen years. The largemouth bass does not usually travel in schools. They are solitary.

Largemouth bass are known for fighting when hooked, often jumping out of the water and putting up a fight, making it all the more exciting to catch. 

These fish feed on a variety of things. The top three foods for largemouth bass are frogs, crawfish, and baitfish, such as perch and minnows. 

Where to Find Largemouth Bass

Catch Largemouth Bass Around Logs and Weeds

You can find largemouth bass in cover such as logs, vegetation, and man-made structures. They can survive in a variety of conditions but prefer quiet waters. They love to take cover under docks that provide a dark recess, fallen tree trunks, and underneath banks. 

Remember that on warm, sunny days, largemouth bass are likely to go for cover, seeking cooler temperatures. The higher the sun climbs in the sky, the more likely largemouth bass will seek cover. The best times of the day to fish for bass are early in the morning and at the end of the day. There is also the option of night fishing, but be sure to practice safety and have the proper lighting and equipment. 

The low-light conditions, such as dawn and dusk, bring the largemouth bass out from the weeds and into the open. Cloudy days also give the angler a great chance at catching a bass, as the largemouth bass will come out for feeding. Before a storm or during a light rain are also optimal fishing conditions. Largemouth bass are more aggressive and bite more when the light is not penetrating the water. You can have a stellar fishing day if you plan your trip during these low-light times. Largemouth bass are less active and do not bite as much during these times: hot, sunny days, mid-day, after a storm. 

Unlike the smallmouth bass, largemouth bass reside in shallow water. You would do best by fishing in water about ten feet deep. It is best to have a map of the body of water you are fishing. This is a great way to find those ideal shallow spots. You can also use a fish finding device that can give you information on the depth of water. 

Watch the Activity

While fishing, keep an eye out for activity. Get a sense of what the largemouth bass are doing on that particular day. Do you see them chasing baitfish? Are they visible near the surface? If so, that means they are aggressively feeding, and this is your chance to take advantage of that. You will want to use a larger lure, something that moves quickly to get their attention. They are in prey mode, so the quick action will catch their eye. However, if you are not seeing any largemouth bass, and the waters are relatively quiet, you might have to entice them to bite. The ideal lure for this is a smaller lure, something that is slow in moving. 

Lures to use for Largemouth Bass

Crankbait, plastic worms, and spinners work well when fishing for largemouth bass. It is important to mimic the location you are fishing in. If there are a lot of weeds, and largemouth bass are feeding on frogs, use a top-water lure, such as plastic mice and prey fish. Remember that bass are not active in the hot sun, so the top-water lure is best used early in the morning or late in the day. You will want to use different lures to get a feel for what works for that particular location and time. There is no one lure that will work all the time, so you have to be willing to change it up.

Largemouth bass are a fun fish to catch. They put up a fight, and they are meant for any level of expertise of the angler. It is important to plan the right conditions in which to fish, and you will want to remember that they are usually found in shallow water. Have fun, plan ahead, and you will have success in no time!

Bass Fishing Basics for Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth bass fish by DuaneRavenArt
Smallmouth bass
Micropterus dolomieu, (Lacepiede, 1802)

Smallmouth bass are a popular catch for anglers. It has a smaller mouth than the largemouth bass, but its size is not that far off. These fish are known for their strength and fight when being reeled in, making them a great catch. When you know the right techniques and tips, you can have a successful day on the water fishing for smallmouth bass. 

Appearance of Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth bass have dark, vertical lines along its sides. Unlike the largemouth bass, the mouth is even with the smallmouth bass’s eye. It has two connected dorsal fins. The front dorsal fin is spiny. The rear dorsal fin is soft.

Traits of Smallmouth Bass

For bass fishing basics, it is important to know that smallmouth bass travel in schools. They reside in deeper waters than the largemouth bass, opting for cooler waters. They also prefer clearer, moving waters. 

Smallmouth Bass Fishing Underwater Near Rocks

Smallmouth bass are aggressive predators. They hid behind covers such as rocks, logs or weeds, and they attack their prey. Humps and channels are great places to find smallmouth bass. While the largemouth bass like to hang out in shallow waters, the smallmouth bass can be found in water up to twenty feet. 

Springtime Bass Fishing Basics for Smallmouth

In the Spring, when the waters reach a temperature of 60 degrees, bass will prepare to spawn. They will cluster into schools into more shallow water, feeding aggressively. This is prime opportunity to fish, as they are biting. You have a great chance of catching a good-sized smallmouth bass that would usually be hiding in deeper waters. 

Summertime Bass Fishing Basics for Smallmouth

In the Summer, it is important to know that the heat and sun can drive smallmouth bass into hiding, the warmest weather leaving them inactive. The best times of the day to fish is at dawn and dusk, when they come out in the cooler waters to feed. 

Late Summer and Early Fall Bass Fishing Basics for Smallmouth

Late Summer and early Fall are good times to fish for smallmouth bass. They are feeding before the colder weather sets in. Get the good fishing in before the water hits below 50 degrees, as once that happens, bass become lethargic and difficult to catch. 

Best Lures for Smallmouth

The best lures to catch smallmouth bass are plastic worms, crankbait, and spinners. You will want to keep the bait a little smaller than you would with largemouth bass.

For plastic worms, there are a variety of styles and colors to choose from. If the smallmouth bass are active and biting, a curly-tailed worm works best. If all is quiet, and the smallmouth bass are not biting, you will want to use a slow dragging, no-fuss worm to lure them out. 

Live bait can be the trick in getting smallmouth bass to bite. Bass are less likely to spit out a worm than they are to spit out a plastic lure. 

Change it Up

The important thing to remember is to change it up. If a lure is not working, use a different color or a different type. Different locations call for different techniques and bait. Know your surroundings with a map or a fish finder device to locate the fish. Keep an eye out to see if the fish are active at the surface or if they are in cover. These factors can help you decide which lure to use. You have to be willing to be versalite and use whatever works. 

It is important to know the bass fishing basics to be successful in your fishing endeavors. Bass fishing is a great sport and satisfying when you know the basics. Remember above all else to have fun. If you take your time, try different lures, know the best seasons and times of day to fish, you will have a successful time fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass.

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