The sun is just breaking the darkness
when the big surface plug hits the water near one of the
thousands of trees in the river. After twenty seconds, the time
to let the ripples disappear, I twitch the Zara Spook slightly,
then let it sit. Another twitch and the "walkin' the
dog" retrieve begins. A little pause between two limbs of
the tree: WHAM! A big bass tries to kill the intruder. The hook
set is almost immediate, just time enough to let the fish take
the lure in her mouth. After a hard fight the bass is in the
boat. Time for a nice picture, then she slips back in the water
and returns to her tree.
by Massimo Zanetti
Another six keepers are landed and released in the next hour.
My buddy decide to tie on a buzzbait. On the first cast a bass
lunges at the bait and misses. A second later, she strikes again,
another miss. On the third strike the fish is hooked, a beautiful
3-pounder that is released immediately.
Now the sun is high in the sky and
the topwater bite slows down drastically. We think the fish have
buried themselves in the vegetation along the shore. It's time
for the flipping stick and a bag of plastic worms. The boat
parallels the shoreline, at the distance of about six feet and we
start to flip a motor oil colored worm in the heart of the trees.
Five minutes later the first bass bites my bait and in the same
moment my buddy has a vicious strike, we pull our rods high and
together we fight a bass who has taken both worms at the same
time. After a brief fight, we land and release the fish with
By evening, we have caught about
fifty largemouth bass ranging from one to four pounds, on
different techniques and lures.
We are not in the U.S.A., nor at
Cuba or Mexico, we are in Europe. More precisely, in a northern
Italian river filled with aggressive bass.
Bass fishing in Italy has grown
tremendously in the last ten years. The number of anglers is
increasing day by day. Even though professional bass fishing is
not yet possible, largely because of a lack of sponsors,
tournaments are organized very often by the Italian bass clubs.
The number of participants is a testimony to the growing
popularity of this sport in Italy. Catch and Release is a common
procedure among tournament anglers but there are a lot of other
fishermen that still keep all the fish they catch. And with live
bait, they catch a lot of little bass and a few huge ones.
Italian bassers love to use plastics. Worms,
grubs, crawfish and other kinds of plastic fill their huge tackle
boxes. Hard baits like spinner baits, crank baits, buzz baits and
surface plugs are used less. The jig-and-pig, a well known big
bass bait, is fished only by a handful of fishermen. But don't
think Italian anglers are at the stone age about bass fishing! We
also have our specialists. Some anglers are skilled in flipping
and pitching, others are wizards with spinnerbaits or crankbaits.
Experienced anglers are generally those who fish regularly in the
tournaments. English language magazines and books are read with
relish by the small core of serious fishermen. The largemouth
bass has invaded Italy and won the hearts of Italian fishermen.
Bass fishing in Italy is good all year long.
The key to bass fishing success is to match the right techniques
to the time of year, just as in everywhere else in it's range.
Early Spring. Springtime, just before the spawn (in
Italy, this generally occurs from April to June, depending on the
weather and location), is great bass action. I fish mostly with
spinnerbaits or crankbaits in spring because bass are often hard
to locate and catch with other methods. I like bass fishing in
rivers in spring because I think big fish are easier to find and
catch then and there. My first choice is a spinnerbait. A 1/4 oz.
model with single gold Colorado blade and fire tiger or white
skirts. The slender profile of this spinnerbait, along with its
slow fall, seems irresistible to Italian bass, especially the big
ones. Crankbaits are another lure I love to use in early spring
because, like spinnerbait, it is a reflex bait and allows me to
fish more water. I like the plastic cramkbait models with
built-in rattlers in spring, with chartreuse/blue or a fire tiger
color pattern. Plastic crankbaits are louder than wooden ones and
I think they draw more strikes when bass not relating to a
specific kind of structure or cover.
Late Spring/Summer. Since in Italy fishing for spawning
bass is not allowed, we must wait until the middle of June to
begin to fish. Late spring and summer can be fished in the same
way because bass, during the hot, shiny days tend to bury
themselves in every piece of cover available in the water. For
this reason, flipping is the best technique. In warm water, I
prefer to flip vegetation like bulrushes and cat tails. I think
these are the best summer cover available for the biggest bass
because of plenty of oxygen and baitfish. Even the jig-and-frog
represent a good choice for summer bassing. You don't have a lot
of strikes as you could have with the plastic worm but you will
catch quality fish. In Italy, bass don't reach huge size like in
the U.S.A. but a four or five-pounder it's not too hard to catch,
especially with the jig-and-frog.
At dawn, sunset, or under cloudy skies, topwater fishing with
hard baits can be the most fun way to catch bass in summer. But I
prefer to use a big willow leaf spinnerbait in the fire tiger
color pattern or 3/8 oz. black buzz bait to catch the big fish of
Fall and Winter. During the fall period in Italy, the
majority of bass anglers try to catch some fish throwing
spinnerbaits or crankbaits to visible targets. But I usually flip
1/4 oz. tube jigs and grubs and I generally score big! This
technique pays off well for me until the middle of December. When
the air begin to freeze and snow appears I pitch my tube jigs and
jig & pig in water ranging from four to six feet deep, always
around some cover. My favorite colors for plastic baits in this
period are chartreuse/pepper and pearl/silver glitter and my jig
'n pigs are black/blue tinsel and brown/copper flash. In winter,
bass remain around cover and you need an accurate presentation to
I hope you have enjoyed this article, and maybe learned how
bass fishing is done in Italy.
Your Friend, Massimo
Massimo Zanetti is
33 years old, Italian by birth and bassman by choice! Massimo is
married to his wife Annalisa since 1992 and they have two
daughters, Paola and Chiara. Fishing since he was a kid, now
Massimo fishes almost exclusively for bass since 1988. He started
bass fishing competitively in late 1992. Massimo writes articles
for a few Italian fishing magazines, club newsletters, and
websites. Massimo has been a featured speaker at several
Massimo considers himself a versatile bass
fisherman who always tries to adapt techniques and lures to
weather/water conditions and to the bass metabolism. He loves to
fish around shallow cover and visible targets, and he's mostly a
river fisherman. In his opinion, this is the way to go!
He is a field tester for Shimano Italia/Rapala
and he's sponsored by KeepAlive Oxygen Infusors, S.O.B. Fishing
Products, Snakebite Custom Fishing Tackle and Scientific Bass