The Bass is arguably the most popular species in sport fishing in North America. In the United States alone you can find them in every state and their abundance to inhabit most bodies of water means they are accessible to nearly everyone. Let’s dive into the bass fishing world, and take a deeper look at tactics, equipment, and the bass fishing scene.
Bass whether they are largemouth bass or smallmouth bass, inhabit a wide variety of habitats and can be found in many different areas at the same time.
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Finding Smallmouth vs. Largemouth Bass
Largemouth bass can be frequently found in shallow water, where they inhabit areas with dense vegetation or around timber, stumps, and man-made structures like docks and pier pylons.
Smallmouth can also be found in these areas, but also have preferences that are different from largemouth bass, Smallmouth bass are commonly found in the northern half of the bass range, and can also be found in certain reservoirs or other bodies of water in southern regions.
Smallmouth bass will inhabit the same areas are largemouth bass, but will also key in on mid-lake structure like rock reefs, or areas with rock.
Bass Fishing Tips
Bass tend to seek out and hold in cover, so that is the best place to start, many of these areas are accessible from shore, so you can access them without a boat and be successful.
Using weedless lure setups is your best bet for these heavy cover areas, and the most effective bait selections will be soft plastics rigged weedless like Texas rigs, or a weedless skirted jig or craw.
Bass Lure selection and fish location depend on season and weather conditions as well, with fish moving based on these conditions, and the lure selections thus changing as well.
Best Time to Fish for Bass
In the spring bass will inhabit incredibly shallow water during the spawn.
Summer Bass Fishing
In the late spring and summer, fish migrate to deeper water areas but still relate to cover, and still can be found around dock and other shallow areas.
Fall Bass Fishing
In the fall bass may position themselves around cover still, but will relate to deeper water structure as well, this is a great opportunity to fish for bass using crankbaits, swimbaits, and jerkbaits.
Winter Bass Fishing
Depending on where you live, fishing for bass may be possible in the winter months as well. The winter months generally dictate fishing very slowly due to the cold water temperatures and the low metabolism of the fish, and can at times be very challenging.
Water Depth and Bass Fishing
What’s depth to fish bass in is a highly complex topic and the answer is influenced by many factors, but there are general rules of thumb that can be applied to factors such as season.
Spring means shallow water fishing in most instances, with fish pushing into ultra-shallow water to spawn in as little as 1-2 feet. But fish can still be caught in the 5-10 foot range as they transition before spawning or after.
In the summer fish can be found in a wide range of depths, but a great place to spend your time will be in shallow water like in spring, in the 1-5 foot range, but focusing on key areas like docks, pier pylons, vegetation and other forms of structure and cover is important.
Fish can also be found on breaks and deep weeds in anywhere from 10-15 feet commonly as well. Fish in the summer can be spread out much more than in spring, but certain spots and areas will hold pods of bass. If you catch on a specific and defined piece of structure or spot, keep fishing it, as you’re likely to find more.
The 10-15 foot range is a great place to start in fall, but in the early months of fall the fish may push up into shallow waters again, but the general rule of thumb is that the later in the fall it gets the deeper you can fish, but fall can be tricky and no rule is set in stone, let the fish tell you where they are after putting your time in to develop a pattern.
Fishing at precise depths is very hard and unproductive if you don’t have the proper tools. Check out this article on the best fish finders to get you pointed in the right direction!
Bass Fishing Gear
Bass fishing has no shortage of equipment to choose from, with the bass fishing industry being worth 115 billion dollars each year, many companies tap into the bass fishing market by creating a wide variety of gear to help them stand out.
Let’s take a look at some of the top pieces of gear in the bass industry today.
Best Reels & Rods for Bass Fishing
St. Croix is one of the frontrunner fishing rod companies in the fishing industry, not just for bass but for any species.
The St. Croix Bass X rod is a great rod that has some amazing features, including Fuji ECS reel seat, split-grip designs, SCII graphite rod blanks, aluminum oxide line guides, and premium cork handles.
The Bass X rod comes in seven different lengths and variants from 6’8” to 7’11” and actions ranging from moderate to extra fast, covering all your bass fishing tactics and situations whether it be jigging, swimbaits, crankbaits, or topwater fishing.
The Fenwick elite tech rods have a unique feature that really helps them stand out, a hidden reel seat, and there really isn’t anything like it on the market.
But the features don’t stop there, they also have titanium rod guides, TAC and EVA grips that provide exceptional grip in any weather conditions.
The rods come in eleven different variants, from 6’6” to 7’11” and medium to extra-heavy power.
Best Bass Fishing Lures
While there are many styles of lures out there and more brands and types than we can count, we will take a look at some of the most popular lures for the most popular types.
Topwater Lures for Bass Fishing
Topwater lures are incredibly popular for the excitement and action they provide when fish are aggressive. Fish attack topwater baits with an explosive strike, leaping out of the water and hammering the baits.
The whopper plopper was created by the world hall of fame angler Larry Dahlberg. This bait has a flexible plastic tail that can handle any abuse, and it’s cupped in a precise way to create a “plopping” noise that drives predatory fish absolutely wild.
The whopper plopper was responsible for catching some truly giant fish when it first hit the fishing world, from bass to musky.
The baits come in a variety of 8 colors and different sizes for different species, from bass forage sized, to large 8-inch musky-sized versions, and even if the 8-inch versions seem too big, they have caught some absolute monster bass as well.
Best Jigs for Bass Fishing
Jigs are the go-to bass bait and catch more of them than any other lure type. There are hundreds of different jigs from different brands, and some are created for specific presentations, but for the sake of this article, we will look at a standard for most bass anglers for most conditions, the football jig.
The lead head of the strike king tour-grade football jig is designed to have an enticing wobble effect while maintaining great balance and proper orientation when worked on the bottom.
The jig also features a unique line tie to keep it from landing in an awkward position or shifting when being bounced off the bottom or dragged.
Last but not least, this jig features a premium silicone skirt, and high quality gamakatsu hook to keep those big bass pinned.
Spinnerbaits for Bass Fishing
Spinnerbaits have been a must-have for any angler who fishes for predatory fish like pike, musky, bass, and even crappies. They mimic baitfish in a way that really causes a predatory fish to react, and has caught countless trophy-sized fish.
Since their release onto the market, Terminator spinnerbaits have become one of the top spinnerbaits to catch bass on.
The lead head on the terminator had a ton of thought put into it during the design phase, and it runs exceptionally well when trailers are applied to the hook, keeping the trailer from becoming ineffective when dragging on the bottom.
The terminator’s wireframe has 30% better bend resistance compared to standard stainless wire, and is actually like a spring, going back to its original position, and eliminating the need to constantly hand tune to a large extent.
The colors and skirts are exceptional and look incredibly realistic, mimicking bait fish like shad in great detail.
Jerkbaits for Bass Fishing
Jerkbaits are more of a precision tool when compared to other baits like spinnerbaits and jigs and are used in very specific situations that are holding in certain areas and feeding on baitfish.
The great thing is Jerkbaits allow you to fish at certain depths with neutral buoyancy, instead of the bait rising it remains at the desired depth where the angler can twitch and snap the baits to imitate a wounded baitfish and trigger the bass to strike.
The X-rap quickly became one of the top jerkbaits ever created after Rapala unveiled it. It has an action that is unmatched, and so many color patterns you will stare at them trying to decide for longer than your wife picking out a new pair of shoes.
With small taps of the rod tip you can make this bait dance, dart, and twitch with deadly effect.
The rear hook of the X-rap features a small feathered tail for extra teasing of the bass, and it also features a weighting system that allows for incredibly long distance casting.
The X-rap comes in many different sizes and even shapes, and also different models for different depth ranges, so you will find something to suit your needs in the X-Rap lineup.
Bass Fishing Crankbaits
Crankbaits are popular for most species of predatory fish, as they have an enticing action and there are models for a wide range of depths. They also mimic baitfish very well and are similar to jerkbaits in many aspects.
The Berkley flicker shad is incredibly popular with bass anglers and also with Walleye anglers. If you fish for both species, this crankbait can kill two birds with one stone.
First off, the price point of the flicker shad is amazing, and you can quickly rack up a collection of these baits at a low cost. Don’t let the cheap price fool you. These are quality baits and are just as good as baits that cost double, and this is a big reason for their popularity.
These crankbaits have a great tight swimming action and feature internal rattles to call in the fish from far and wide. The flicker shad comes in a dizzying amount of color patterns and baitfish imitations, and features premium hooks to boot.
They also come in multiple different sizes and models. Allowing anglers to fine-tune their approach on the water at any given time.
Options for Getting to the Bass
Bass can be found and caught while fishing from shore. However the best fishing spots will be out of reach to you if you are shore fishing. Obviously, a boat is your best bet, but not everyone can fork over $50,000 or more for a brand new bass boat. But fret not, as there are other options for the modern bass angler.
Kayaks have become increasingly popular in recent years. Companies have designed and construct very thoughtfully engineered and high-tech kayaks specifically for angling. If you want to know more about fishing kayaks and the best ones on the market, view our article on the best kayaks for under 1000 dollars.
Kayaks aren’t your only option either, and for some bass anglers, something more compact is necessary. If kayaks aren’t the right option for you, check out our article on the best inflatable boats for anglers.
Fishing at Night
Fishing at night for bass can be incredibly effective and action-packed. However, not all bodies of water have an active night fishing bite. There are a few things that could give you a hint that night fishing on your favorite lake might be great!
Clearwater lakes are the first thing to look for in a good night fishing lake. It’s easier for the fish to hunt prey in clear water lakes . Even the moonlight can help transmit light below the surface and creates silhouettes and shadows.
When Night fishing you want to slow down your retrieves to give the fish every opportunity to lock in on your baits location and have a chance to strike.
Big baits, like spinnerbaits with a single Colorado blade, are hard to beat for night fishing. They put out a ton of vibration and are easy for the fish to locate. Slow-rolling these baits over weed edges can produce devastating strikes.
Black is an excellent color choice as well. It silhouettes against the night sky perfectly and can be spotted easier by bass.
Be sure to prepare well for night fishing. Keep your boat clean and uncluttered so you don’t trip over anything and go for a swim. Have all your tools readily available, this includes lights.
Check out the lights in this article for your night fishing needs.
Bass Fishing Conclusion
Bass fishing as a whole is a deep topic that you could fill a book. As is the case with fishing for any species. This is a basic bass fishing guideline to some of the most productive tactics and gear on the market today. Any of the gear listed, and tactics told will undoubtedly help you catch fish.