Super Tips For Bass Fishing Beginners
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Bass are some of the most popular freshwater fish that anglers love to pursue and for good reason! Found across a wide range of territory, fierce fighters, and able to grow to impressive sizes, there are few fish that bring together the combination of these traits. Add in the fact that largemouth bass can be fried up to be pretty tasty, and that’s a winning combination that helps explain why they are such a popular option among sports anglers. While children might not remember their first bluegill or fishing for trout, they will never forget the first time that lure is slammed by a bass!
Bass have a reputation for being fighters, and they live up to that reputation well! They are known for being fierce, opportunistic predators. They have no problem just hovering in cover, waiting for that minnow, worm, or bait to go by before slamming into it. This means a wide array of lures and fishing techniques can actually be quite effective with bass, although things like weather, location, and time of year can all have a major effect on what will and won’t work.
While there are technically dozens of different types of bass out there, generally speaking when anglers are talking about actually going fishing for bass they are only talking about two main species: the largemouth bass (often referred to in some regions as black bass) or smallmouth bass. These are by far and away the two most popular options out there for bass anglers.
One of the most important tips for anglers who want more success bass fishing is to know when the spawning periods are for wherever they are going to be fishing. During and right after spawning periods female bass tend to be really low on energy and are going to be really hard to entice to strike bait or a lure. Males during that period and in the weeks after will only stay by the nests. Really good casting in the immediate area can get a male to strike as they will be doing it “in defense” of the recent hatchlings, but otherwise, the weeks leading up to and right after a spawn are simply going to be a bit harder when it comes to fishing.
Also worth noting: unlike some other popular freshwater game fish like walleye, bass don’t tend to school. It is rare to find more than one or two bass in one place. They tend to be much more solitary and territorial, as well.
Largemouth/Black Bass Vs. Smallmouth Bass
Many of the fishing strategies that apply to one of these will apply to the other, as well. There are some differences, especially in certain regions. One example is fly fishing for bass. In that situation, the chances are overwhelming that the angler is going for smallmouth as opposed to largemouth bass. Strategies for actually catching them are more dependent on the local area and conditions more than anything else.
While these two fish are very similar, there are some tell-tale differences. Smallmouth bass have much more clear vertical striping patterns while a largemouth’s is horizontal. The other really obvious tell-tale sign is that the dorsal fin (top) on a largemouth is split to the point of almost being two separate fins and it is really distinctive. A smallmouth bass does not share that trait.
Then for huge bass, there’s the size. The world record for a smallmouth is 11 lbs, 15 ounces. If you start pushing higher than that chances are overwhelming it’s a largemouth as opposed to a new world record.
Fishing Lures & Strategies
One of the fun things about bass is that because of their aggressiveness, there isn’t just one style or technique that is going to work. We cover general strategies here. Crankbaits, spinners, rubber frogs, spinners, worms - all of these can work. The local environment may make a difference is how well each of these work, but all of them can work in the right circumstances. Bass are aggressive and like to pounce so light, sound, or even movement can be enough to incite a hit.
Many anglers prefer some sort of artificial lure as the extra action that comes from casting, reeling, jigging, or trolling is likely to help gain the attention of any bass that are in the area. One of the best ways to know what works is to talk to local anglers and see what they use, as well as talking to any local rangers or DNR agents who can talk about what they have heard works and what hasn’t been as solid. Information among locals is consistently one of the better sources of good angling advice when it comes to bass habits.
If in doubt, start with a crankbait, a spinner, and something different like a rubber frog, minnow, or worm. This combination of artificial lures really covers a broad array of styles and movements. This array gives you a good chance to try out multiple options and get an idea of what might be working on a specific day versus what lures might not be. This small group gives that full variety of looks and motions that can help an angler to figure out what is going to work best on that given day.
Keep A Fishing Journal
What works outstanding in one area for bass fishing might end up being completely ineffective in another, or it might just be the time of day or time of year. Keeping a fishing journal with all the pertinent information might seem a bit of work at first, but over time as that journal gets larger and larger, it will become a great resource for you.
And check out our fishing journals.
Quick Bass Fishing Tips
- Make sure to fish around cover (bass love cover)
- Go with a heavy duty net
- Beginners should go with medium action fishing rods
- Try multiple lures or fishing techniques
- Keep track of spawning times & plan around them if possible
Bass fishing is really popular for a good reason, and that popularity isn’t likely to go away any time soon. Beginner anglers are likely to quickly catch the bug. Whether you end up being a smallmouth enthusiast or all about the largemouth bass, bass fishing provides plenty of fun and future memories in all its forms!
Great Resources for Further Reading/Research: