Bass Fishing Techniques

Bass fishing for fun and sport

This 7 lbs bass was caught in Ontario

By Terri Paajanen

One of North America’s most popular sport fish is the Largemouth Bass. Bass are very popular with sport-fisherman due to their reasonably big size of 3 to 7lbs and widespread availability. The signature leap and splash as it bites down on a lure makes this fish an exciting animal to catch. Often it will jump out of the water in an attempt to flip the lure from it’s mouth making for even more exciting action.

A Brief Biology

Bass are found in most freshwater lakes in Canada and the United States. They nest and breed in early spring with open season usually beginning in most regions from mid to late June. Unlike other fish which prefer cooler waters, bass will often search for food or just sun themselves in warmer shallow waters in as little as 2′ of depth. They spend time hiding in the shade under lily pads or in weed beds during the hot summer days. Shallow back bays with lots of frogs are a usual place to find these tasty fish. Quiet bays with a sandy or rocky bottom near a pronounced drop-off to deeper water are another popular place to find them. Bass can be found near stands of cattails and wild rice as well.

The bass diet consists mostly of small frogs, crayfish, and worms. Occasionally, they will feed on insects, leeches, small snakes, grubs and minnows. Crayfish and smaller leopard or bull frogs make up at least 35% of the fish’s diet, often supplementing them with large worms during the cooler spring and fall seasons. Bass feed most actively in the early morning and early evening hours just around sunrise and sunset. They are most active near the surface on days when the wind is calm and will tend to feed deeper or much closer within the weed beds on windy days.

Lures, Bait and Techniques

Some of the best baits to use for bass are life-like imitations of it’s preferred foods. Bass are a top-water feeder which means things like Jitterbugs, Hula-Poppers, and other floating lures work very well. Smaller to medium sized Red Devil lures and Spinners can be successful when matched to the water conditions. Lures that resemble perch or minnows also work well. Probably the most common baits to use are 6″ to 8″ earthworms either real or plastic. A stop and go retrieve drives bass crazy in order to hook the big one.

Cast the lure out into the water near where you suspect a bass might be hiding. Start reeling in your line then stop for a moment. Continue reeling for a few more moments then stop again and let the bait settle. Continue in this pattern until something strikes. If bass are on feeding frenzy it won’t take long.

Bass are sensitive to fishing lines and can see them quite easily. Try a using 10lb test in a clear or other colour that closely matches the conditions and water colour you will be fishing in. Bass do not have teeth so a steel leader is not necessary to prevent them from biting through the line. Often a 1/4oz. weight or jighead is used to get the bait just below the surface. Rods and reels depend mostly on the individual fisherman and what they prefer. A 6′ to 7′ light to medium action rod is popular with a spin cast reel attached.

When fishing near weed beds or close to shore, exercise caution not to unduly rip up weeds or cast into branches along the shoreline. Disruption of their habitat will quickly scare Bass away and no one wants to see a frustrated fisherman snapping branches in a vain attempt to get his lure out of an overhanging tree.

Sonars or fishfinders do work to locate these fish, but given the shallow waters that bass inhabit can be a bit difficult to use. Best to keep the sonar as just that, to let you know when your boat is about to scrape bottom in the shallow bays or around shoals.

Boats and Fishfinders

Bass boats are fun way to fish for bass. The large flat decks make it easy to move around on and have comfortable seats usually located in the bow and stern of the boat for travelling or when the bite turns slow. The high placement of these seats allows fishermen to have a good view of what is happening underwater. These high power boats are great for show and getting you back to shore quickly but are far from necessary. Any boat or canoe capable of travelling in shallow waters is sufficient. Many bass are caught in boats 16′ or less on the back lakes of North America without any of the fancy gadgets. Often bass can be caught from the shoreline without any need for a boat at all.

Sonars or fishfinders do work to locate these fish, but given the shallow waters that bass inhabit can be a bit difficult to use. Best to keep the sonar as just that, to let you know when your boat is about to scrape bottom in the shallow bays or around shoals.

Bass are an exciting and simple fish to catch. They do not require expensive gear or fancy boats, just basic equipment and a little patience, making them a fun and tasty fish for the whole family.

Copyright 2016 Mike Wilson

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