The Ultimate Bass Fishing Guide – How to Catch Bass
Have you ever been fishing in a lake or pond and the person next to you is catching fish every cast while you’re not even getting a bite?
I remember growing up and fishing with my older cousin who might as well be a professional bass fisherman. Every time we fished together, I got so frustrated and wanted to throw my rod in the water. No matter what season, what time of the day, or the temperature of the water, my cousin would always catch more bass than me. It got to the point where I became so frustrated that I quit fishing with him all together.
That’s until I learned some tricks from the pros that put me on top of my game when it came to bass fishing.
Let’s break down some short, effective, and proven methods of how to increase your chances of catching bass.
First, you need to know the lures that you can rely on when learning how to catch bass.
- Plastic Worms
Fish absolutely love worms. However, fishing with plastic worms requires a ton of patience and skill. You might want to avoid using these types of lures if your just getting started fishing for bass because you might dislike them at first. It’s important to understand that once a bass takes the worm don’t set the hook. Allow him time to swim away with the bait before striking. Although, it may be hard to wait, patience is key.
Regardless if you’re throwing in open water, on the rocks, grass, or wood, jigs will catch bass in water temperatures from 45 degrees to 85 degrees. They’re perfect when you’re fishing in 3 ft water and even 30 ft water. When you’re fishing in the fall and winter times, bouncing a brown jig and craw combo along steep rock banks is ideal. If you’re fishing in the summer, then casting into the grasses along the shoreline with a paddle tail and bluegill colored jig will surely bring some action.
A crankbait is a fun lure to use if you’re just now learning how to catch bass. It’s recommended to change the color of your crankbaits with water conditions and season. This gives you a chance to always find bass that are willing to bite.
- Finesse worm
Just like the Watermelon Seed Lizard, the Finesse worm offers fisherman learning how to catch bass one key characteristic – they get bit all day long. Regardless of the conditions, wherever a bass is swimming, they won’t be able to resist the movement of the finesse worm. In cold water, it’s best to use a Caroline or shaky head. In warm water it’s best to use the Texas rig.
- Artificial Crawfish
Although crawfish have a season in the south, bass gobble them up year-round. Bass find crawfish in shallow grassy areas and between rocks and crevasses. Crawfish are active almost all the time except during the coldest parts of the year. Plastic craws imitate one of the bass’ most ideal forage species, and as such work wonders anytime the bass are around crawfish.
Where to find bass in freshwater
If you’re first getting started with bass fishing it’s best to start fishing for bass in a shallow body of water and eventually make your way into deeper water. Start in small ponds rather than big lakes. You will catch smaller fish, but the practice and experience you will gain will pay off.
Bass mainly live near structures at the bottom of lakes, rivers, or ponds, caused by rocks, trees or artificial reefs. These structures are ideal to find bass because they attract congregations of smaller fish looking for shelter from larger predatory fish aka the largemouth bass.
Lakes and ponds will also have shoreline structures such as docks, logs, stump fields, brush, rock pies, grass beds, and more that provide shelter, shade and further protection for fish.
Another tip is knowing what water temperature that a bass enjoys. Bass ideally prefer temperatures of 82 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit, bass function quite well between 49 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the time of year.
To further sharpen your bass fishing skills, you’ll want to remember these secrets from professional bass fishermen I'm about to share.
- Keep your used worms.
Bass are ambush predators and love to attack wounded prey. So, using a worn out or beat up worm can be an irresistible site to passing bass. This strategy is especially ideal in shallower waters where smaller fish tend to gather.
- Red Resembles Wounded
When fishing in shallow water around wood, stumps, and clumps of grass most professional anglers say it’s best to use red or pink colors in the baits. This causes the fish to think that the bait is injured and entices it to bite even when it may not be hungry.
- Fish before the storm
Believe it or not, before a front comes through is the best time to bass fish, and the worst time to fish them is after the front. When you see walls of clouds moving in you’ll know it's time. This is because the pressure makes the bass much more active, whereas when it’s pretty outside the bass aren’t likely to bite. Fish are very receptive to to changes in atmospheric pressure, they can tell when it's about to storm. They tend to feed before hand, when they know it's coming.
- Fish shallow in the Spring
Bass bed in the spring. During this time you’ll notice bass become very protective as they are hanging around spawning beds. It’s a good idea to concentrate on shallow areas around coves and pockets that are more protected from the wind. This is where bass like to guard their eggs. In the Spring, bass tend to bite out of aggravation rather than hunger. So it’s best to agitate them and drag a lizard or worm in and around their bedding areas.
- Face the Wind
Although it can be aggravating casting into the wind, sometimes it’s the best bet as bass always swim with the current. Casting your lure into the wind makes it easier for the bass to find your bait before they find your boat. Plus, when it's windy, the noise from the water slapping the hull of your boat will carry away from the spot you’re fishing which is good.
- Keep your Hooks Sharp
It’s always good to keep a file in your tackle box to sharpen your hooks. It only takes 30 seconds, and bass fishermen sharpen their hooks every time they catch a fish and before every bass fishing trip.
Choosing the Right Set Up
When you start fishing for bass, choosing the right set up is very important. Most bass fishermen find that bigger is not always better. If you’re new to the bass fishing game, it’s recommended to start with a smaller combo.
For example, you’ll be able to feel smaller bass hit your lures more often with a Ultra-light 5-foot Quantum and an ultra-light reel compared to a 7-foot Quantum. This way you’ll learn how to actually feel the fish when it hits your line.
This gives you a valuable experience in learning how a bass moves and reacts after setting the hook. This way you can fight a one-pounder and feel the thrill of the fish taking drag with smaller poles.
Don’t expect to start catching 5+ pound bass when you get started. They will come over time. It’s best to target smaller fish and gain the experience in the fight so you will learn how to handle much bigger bass when they come your way.
When to use a baitcaster vs. a spinning reel.
Many bass fishermen use both baitcaster and spinning reel combos. That’s because there are certain advantages for each of these setups. It’s ideal to use baitcasting gear for heavier line such as 10-pound test and up. Baitcasters are better when bass fishermen are fishing with heavier baits like heavy jigs, spinner baits, crankbaits, top waters, and other similar lures.
Spinning tackle is recommended if you’re using a finesse-style presentation. These presentations are best to use for both smallmouth and largemouth bass. Also, when it’s windy outside and you want to avoid a backlash with a baitcaster, using a spinning reel might be your best approach.
When fishing with light line (8-pound test or less) it’s best to use a spinning reel. However, if you’re fishing with heavier line (10-pound test or more) a baitcaster is the way to go.
What pound test line to use
If you prefer to use spinning reels to catch bass, any line that is over 9-12 lb. fluorocarbon or monofilament tends to be too heavy. Heavier line negatively impacts the method in which the reel and bait performs. A good rule of thumb when using lighter baits and more finesse presentations with spinning reels is to use line sizes between 6 and 10 lb. fluorocarbon and monofilament.
Baitcaster combos are best used for heavier or reaction induced fishing methods. It’s best to use line between 9 to 20 lb. fluorocarbon or monofilament, or 30 to 80 lb. braid.
Monofilament Line: Spinner Baits, Topwaters, Swimbaits, Texas-rigged soft plastics, Crankbaits, Jigs.
Fluorocarbon Line: Jerkbaits, Carolina-rigs, Shaky Head, Swimbaits, Spinner Baits, Texas-rigs, Crankbaits, Wacky-rigs
Braided Line: Alabama-rigs, Texas-rigs, Frogs, Topwaters, Toads, Buzzbaits, Jigs
Best bass fishing knots
Every angler you meet will claim that the knot they tie is the best. It almost seems that there is as many knots out there as there are lures. Realistically, there will be about (3) times you’ll need to tie a knot in fishing. Below is a list of the most popular knots in each of the categories.
Line to lure knots: The most common knots an angler must master. Some great ones to learn are: Palomar Knot, Reverse Clinch Knot, and Triple Loop Knot. The Palomar Knot is the most well-known.
Loop knots: When you’re using top waters and other reaction baits its best to use look knots to give the bait more action. The best of these knots is the King Sling as it has the best ratings for braid, monofilament and fluorocarbon lines.
Line to line knots: If you’re tying to a leader its best to use line to line knots. The Blood Knot and the Modified Albright knot are the best to use.
How to properly set the hook
A common issue that bass fishermen face when starting out is knowing how to properly set the hook.
If you’re using soft plastics and slower moving baits (such as jigs) it’s best to have a more aggressive approach when setting the hook. When you get a bite, reel the slack in your line, lower the rod tip, and quickly jerk the rod in an upward 12 o'clock position.
For crankbaits, there is no need to set the hook aggressively when a fish bites. It’s best to simply lead the fish by pulling the rod further into whatever direction you are reeling. The same technique is used with spinner baits, but you’ll want to jerk slightly harder for better penetration into the fish’s lip.
Although top water baits are the easiest to see when you get a bite on the surface of the water, setting the hook can actually be the biggest challenge when fishing for bass. If a bass hits on top water, they are initially striking to kill. In this situation, you need to be more patient when setting the hook and wait until you feel the weight of the fight on the end of your line. Ideally, you want to count to two seconds in your head and then set the hook. Even if a bass misses the first time, it will usually come back and strike multiple times on top water baits.