Bass fishing basics

By Joseph S.

Bass fishing is one of the most enjoyed activities among fishermen. Smallmouth and largemouth bass, which are also known as black bass, are two of the most sought after fish in North America. Largemouth bass, so named because their upper jaw reaches all the way past their eyes, are one of my favorite fish not only to catch but also to eat. Smallmouth bass, which are obviously equipped with a smaller mouth, are great fun too.

Smallmouth are the most highly respected black bass, because they fight very hard, but largemouth are just as fun to catch. The two species are similar in many ways but they generally prefer different types of water. Largemouth prefer weeded areas as well as waters with muddy bottoms whereas smallmouth bass like rocky bottomed waters and more clear lakes.

My bass fishing arsenal consists of many lures and soft plastics but there are only three types of lures/plastics needed to catch a lot of bass. These are top water baits, spinner baits, and plastic worms (specifically worms/grubs in the 3 to 4 inch range). I have many options to choose from in my tackle box but it seems as if these are the only ones that ever get used when bass fishing.

I could offer many tips on how to fish these baits but in truth there are only a few words of wisdom which need to be shared. First, when fishing with top water baits you can never fish them too slowly. Slow is good with these lures. Let them sit for a good while on top of the water before you start to twitch them, and after each twitch let them sit again.

Second, when using spinner baits you should try different things to see what works where you are fishing. Remember these fish have probably seen it all, so you must offer them something appealing. This can be different depending on where you are fishing. Different water types and climates provide fish with varying types of food so try and find what they are feeding on where you are. Try several retrieval methods with spinner baits. Start out with a slow and steady retrieval and work your way up to a fast and steady retrieval. If this fails try the stop-and-go method. Be open to new techniques until you find out what they are hitting.

All of the techniques used for spinner baits apply to soft plastics as well. The key here though, is to start with the slower retrievals, then move to slow stop-and-go methods, and finally move to faster retrievals after the first two methods have failed. Don’t be afraid to try new things.

I don’t believe these tips will be seen written in stone anywhere, they are just things I have picked up over the years. You might have already heard many, if not all of these tips and techniques. Other fishermen might believe different techniques are what work and that you should try them, and I agree. The best piece of advice I can give any fisherman is to try anything and everything. Do this and see what works for you.