If you’re new to fishing, it won’t take you long to learn that Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass are among the most prized of catches. They’re ample-sized, tenacious fish that require the perfect lure, water temperature, and weather conditions to catch. Offering the ideal level of challenge, bass fishing has become the number-one freshwater sport in America. Over the past 25 years, bass fishing has grown to become a $4.8 billion-dollar industry, and it’s still growing. The rise of the industry can be attributed, in part, to the fact that patience, practice, and discipline in bass fishing can help an individual with no experience quickly reach a professional level.
Whether you’re wanting to take up competitive bass fishing as a career or you just want to improve your technique, learning the basics will help you get there. In this article, you will learn about bass behaviors, when to fish for them, what equipment to use, plus other bass fishing tips that will soon have you fishing like a pro.
Types of Bass
There are dozens to hundreds of fish considered bass around the globe, but only two primary bass families are found on the North American continent: Temperate Bass and Black Bass. When you start fishing for them, it’s important to know what to expect if you want to be successful. We’ll cover this briefly below.
This family of bass consists of six freshwater species and can be found on the coasts of North America. Some of the more popularly fished Temperate Bass are listed here:
- Striped Bass: This fish is a large, mean, and strong beast that creates an exciting challenge for an angler. They live primarily at sea, but they come closer to the shore when it’s time to spawn.
- Yellow Bass: While these fish are small and unchallenging to catch, they’re known for their delicious taste.
- White Bass: The non-aggressive white bass hangs around in clear reservoirs and large lakes at least 10 feet in depth. Most people prefer to eat them than to catch them for sport, as they don’t put up much of a fight.
The Black Bass family of fish consists of several carnivorous species that reside in freshwater bodies. They can be found in the central and eastern United States and comprise a multi-billion dollar industry, as tournaments are often centered on fishing Black Bass. Here are several popular bass in this family:
- Largemouth Bass: These bass are not particularly eye-catching, but they are fierce, intelligent creatures. Their diet consists of birds, other fish, and insects, and they catch their prey with great aggression. Professional anglers love the fight they put up and the satisfaction of catching one.
- Smallmouth Bass: While Largemouth Bass are more hyped up, the Smallmouth Bass is just as aggressive and difficult to catch. They’re smaller in size, but they put up a comparable fight. These fish typically live in colder waters than Largemouth Bass, but they can sometimes be found together in the same areas.
- Spotted Bass: These fish live in hazy, warm water with a current. Spotted Bass have similar coloring to Largemouth Bass, which causes many anglers to mistake one for the other. The differentiating factor is the size of the mouth; a Spotted Bass’s mouth doesn’t pass its eye.
Lures to Use When Fishing for Bass
As you begin your bass-fishing endeavors, you’ll need to have the proper equipment. The right lures can make or break your catch. Here are some of the must-have fishing lures for bass for your tackle box.
- Crankbaits: These are great for a fisherman covering a lot of surface area and exploring different depths. They can descend 20 feet or deeper.
- Jigs: The jig lure was designed to look like and imitate creatures like bream and crawfish. They can be used in shallow or deep water. You can drag them, hop them, cast them, swim them, and do just about anything else you want to emulate the kind of creatures your local bass eat.
- Jerkbaits: Bass tend to prey on injured minnows, which is what jerkbait is designed to imitate. This kind of lure catches a lot of bass — even more so in cold water.
- Walking topwater baits: These lures are surface baits that appear to the bass to be an injured baitfish. They’re some of the most versatile (and effective) baits out there.
- Spinnerbaits: Spinnerbaits are most frequently used in shallow water, but they can work in other areas as well. They’re characterized by their flashy, baitfish-like appearance, vibrating blades, and flowy movements, which are designed to catch the attention of the bass.
Choosing the Best Boat to Fish for Bass
Bass are hard enough to catch without your boat chasing them away. Fortunately, there are thousands of boats out there that were made specifically for this purpose — but not all of them are created equal. Here are a few tips on what to look for in a pro bass fishing boat:
- Find one with an expansive casting deck so there’s room for you and your fishing partner to stand and cast your lines
- Make sure the deck is carpeted to keep your gear from sliding
- Choose a boat with a quiet but dependable outboard electric trolling motor
- Take advantage of the boats with new technology, such as the depth finder and GPS
- Opt for fiberglass construction to ensure high quality and durability
In general, most bass boats have low profiles and smooth bottoms that minimize water disturbance, and they can carry between two and five people, depending on the size. You can find bass boats ranging from 16 to 26 feet long. Traditional bass boats aren’t meant for all things watersports, but you can sometimes make them work for fishing other species.
Some of the most highly demanded and well-established bass boat manufacturers include:
- Ranger Bass Boats
- Lund Bass Boats
- Skeeter Bass Boats
- Bass Cat Bass Boats
- Tracker Bass Boats
- Triton Bass Boats
- Lowe Bass Boats
- Xpress Bass Boats
- Starcraft Bass Boats
- And more
Five Tips for Catching Bass
Now that you have an idea of which types of bass are out there and what you need to catch them, you’re ready for some tips on the “how” of bass fishing. Once you know which weather and water conditions are the most favorable and understand bass behaviors, you’ll be prepared to hit the water and make some memorable catches!
- Know the best time to fish for bass
The best season to fish for bass is in the springtime before they spawn when the temperature of the water is less between 55 and 65 degrees. As far as the time of day to fish for bass, you’ll have the best luck in the morning or the evening when there’s less direct sunlight heating up the water. Bass prefer to do their roaming in cooler temperatures. When it’s hot outside, they have to expend a lot more energy to swim, so they’ll usually hunker down under some form of cover when the weather is over 80 degrees and wait for their food to come to them.
On cloudy days, on the other hand, they’re more active in their search for food. You can still fish on hot days, but you will need to bring a jig to lure the bass from their cover. When it’s cooler, you can use spinnerbaits and other surface lures that elicit large bass strikes. As a rule of thumb, use fast and aggressive baits in warm water and slow baits in cold water.
- Fish around areas of cover
Bass prefer to hang out in covered areas in order to hide from their prey and take them by surprise. These covered areas can be rocks, stumps, boat docks, lily pads, logjams, brush tops, or thick vegetation — especially along grass mats. When you drop your bait into a place of heavy cover that the fish feels safe in, you’re more likely to get a bite.
- Match your lures to local prey
Bass are carnivorous creatures that eat everything from minnows to ducklings. Before heading out to the lake, find out what kind of creatures are native to that body of water and find similarly colored swimbaits or crankbaits to lure in the bass.
- Try a number of different presentations
It may take multiple presentations to entice a bass to bite, so try lots of different ways to attract its attention with your lures. You could try using crankbait or spinnerbait on top of the cover to imitate animal movement, deadsticking your bait, or even shaking it. If that doesn’t work, you could get up in the bass’s space by using jerkbait — especially if you’re fishing Smallmouth Bass.
- Be patient with each cast
Bass fishing is a skill that requires patience, thoroughness, and time. These fish have stubborn tendencies and usually won’t exert much effort for their food, and they get particularly lethargic after spawning. So, it’ll take more effort on your part to draw them to you. For example, take your time setting up your bait and carefully choosing your targets so you get more bites. Drop the bait in at multiple angles in places where bass like to hide and leave it in for longer, as bait coming from another direction could trigger the bass to bite. Remember — a good angler knows how to catch fish when they’re not biting.
Get Started With the Right Equipment
Feeling a little more confident about your bass knowledge? If so, it’s time to get out there and get your hands dirty! But first, you need the right boat to help you succeed. Germaine Marine is the authority on all things boats with three locations in Utah, California, and Arizona.