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Bass Fishing Basics

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Bass have gained the reputation of being America's favorite gamefish. And for good reason, too. They're widely available and they fight hard, and it doesn’t hurt that they’re delicious, either.


Whether you’re an absolute beginner or a pro, you can be sure there are bass fishing opportunities nearby. Take Me Fishing has a map powered by Fishbrain where you can type in your location, find a spot near you, and filter by species. You can also check its information on logged catches and fishing forecasts.


Bass bite on a wide range of lures and bait, from jigs to crankbaits to minnows and worms. You can also use a variety of fishing techniques on them, such as fly fishing, sight fishing, drift fishing, and trolling. Most shops carry tackle that you can use for bass fishing for whatever budget you have.



Once you’re hooked, you can join one of the many fishing tournaments and professional associations across the country that exist to encourage and promote bass fishing. Some of the top ones include the Bass Pro Tour (Major League Fishing), Bassmaster B.A.S.S. Nation Series, F.L.W. Pro Circuit, and the Alabama Bass Trail Tournament Series. But you should definitely start by joining a smaller, local club before you move to pro levels.


If you practice catch and release fishing, bass are also known to have a good chance of surviving getting caught, provided you use the right gear and handle and release them properly.


Given all these reasons, it’s no wonder that bass fishing has evolved into a multi-billion-dollar industry in the U.S., with around 30 million bass anglers.



All about that bass



Bass are found all over North America. The most popular kind, largemouth bass, is found from the St. Lawrence River, the Great Lakes, Hudson Bay (Red River), and into the Mississippi River basin, according to the FWS, as well as the Atlantic drainages from North Carolina to Florida and into northern Mexico.



Largemouth Bass photo. Source:

Largemouth bass (Image from FWS)


Smallmouth Bass. Image from FWS

Smallmouth bass (Image from FWS)


Bass come in shades of olive green, brown, and silvery-gray. Largemouths grow best in temperate to subtropical waters, mainly in lakes, swamps, and ponds. On average, the largemouth measures 16 inches, but it can reach up to 38.2 inches. The heaviest reported weight is 22 lbs. Its natural food is fish, crayfish, frogs, and insects, and sometimes snakes, mice, or other bass.



There are also many other kinds of bass, like the smallmouth bass, which is also aggressive, perhaps even more aggressive than its cousin the largemouth, but it’s not as widely available. Smallmouth bass are usually found in colder water. There is also the spotted bass, the Guadalupe bass, and the Choctaw bass, to name a few others, which are also part of the same black bass family. Then there are the temperate bass, like the striped bass and white bass.


Bass are adaptable to different conditions, which is why they thrive in areas where they have been introduced. It’s common to stock ponds and lakes with bass, both for food and sport fishing needs.



Bass fishing tips


So how do you catch a bass? I’ve rounded up a bunch of tips from pros and top bass enthusiasts to draw more strikes.


Bass are most active at dusk and dawn. They take advantage of the reduced light to hunt for their prey, which are also more active at these times. So if you’re looking to catch bass, schedule your fishing at these cooler hours.


The behavior of bass changes with the seasons. The best time of year to fish for them is in early spring. Bass are starting to move into warmer, shallower parts of the water, looking for food to make up for the weight they lost over the winter. They’re also very active in early to mid-fall, feeding a lot as they get ready for winter.


Other than the season, pay attention to what’s going on in the water. When the water is around 48 to 55 degrees, which is also before the time they begin to spawn, bass often go into a feeding frenzy. They tend to look for protein-rich food, so they will likely strike at natural bait like crawfish or crayfish, and minnows such as shad and shiners.


If you prefer lures, go for ones that make a lot of movement and have a slow fall speed. Use brightly-colored lures when fishing in clear water, and lures with more natural and subdued colors in murky water. Soft plastics and rubber worms are also good choices.



Bass lurk in shallow and shaded water in spring, especially where there are lots of plants that provide them with good cover for ambushing prey. They also hang out around tree stumps, old logs, and even man-made structures like docks. When the water is very clear, bass tend to go deeper, where they can be protected. Ease into clear water so you don’t spook the bass.


Final thoughts


Hopefully, this quick guide will help you catch more bass the next time you go fishing.


Don’t miss our article on ways to improve your fishing game, and check out the most sought-after sport fish here.



Get to Know Sean Frado (@fishingfanatics_NTX)

Sean Frado is an angler located in Fort Worth, Texas who loves “the idea of competition between man and fish.” He hopes to unite the fishing community and encourage outdoor recreation.

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