Bass Basics for Beginners
by Charles Stuart
The North American largemouth
bass is our nation's most popular fish. Perhaps more
has been written about this species of fish that any other I have
ever encountered. Speak to any bass fisherman or woman, and they
will tell you stories of "monster bass", crazy baits
and ridiculous situations that these fish have been caught in!
I could write for the next twelve months and
cover only a fraction of the information now available to catch
these fish. So I will try to list several baits and situations
when they are at their best. I expect bass "fisher
persons" who, after reading this article, will know of one
hundred other ways to do exactly the same thing, but here goes!
You need a lot of equipment to fish tournaments!
But for those of you who do not have a boat, I will try to help
you catch from the shore. Three rods would be good. I use as many
as ten or twelve in a tournament situation. Line can be from 10
to 50 pound test. Hooks sizes 1 and 2 work well on Long Island.
The heavy line is for thick cover, as a three pound bass will
pull you into cover very quickly and light line will break easily
if your reel drag is not set correctly.
Ultra light spinning tackle is now also very
popular, light rods with small reels and 4 or 8 pound test line
are good, especially on heavily fished waters. You should use
smaller versions or miniature sizes of common bass lures.
and spinnerbaits can be excellent. Fish them on top or just below
the surface. Your retrieve should be reasonably fast. Look for
the fish to swirl beside the bait. If this happens but you do not
catch a fish, a plastic worm will often do the job when cast to
the same location. See below for the worm techniques.
Midday. Bass move to
cover during the day. Fish "jig-n-pig" rigs close to
the shoreline under fallen trees and bushes as these are
"ambush points" for bass and you can capture larger
fish. Fish this method very slowly along the bottom of the lake
or river. Watch the line for movement or "twitching"
and always set the hook hard.
Crankbaits and spinnerbaits will attract bass
from deep water. If you want to fish deep, reduce the line
strength to perhaps 10-pound test and use a crankbait with a deep
angled lip. Lipless crankbaits work well bounced off the bottom
of the lake with an erratic retrieve. Plastic imitations of
various shapes, styles, lengths and colors will also work fished
with or without weights.
worms, crawfish, lizards, frogs, fish and grubs will all catch
fish. Tube jigs and other plastic "shapes" which bear
no resemblance to any living creature will catch bass on any
given day. Do not be afraid to ask other fishermen what color is
working that day. Your tackle dealer will also be able to tell
you what is working in the area.
Imitations such as soft plastics should be fished
slowly. A good idea when trying a new lure is to drop it close to
the shoreline and watch it move as you retrieve your line. The
key to plastics is to make the imitation look as much like the
real thing as possible. Watch closely and then imagine what you
bait is doing when you cast out into the lake or river on your
Evening. You can
also return to the morning methods shown above as the light
begins to fade. This is when bass move back to shallow water and
ambush points, such as downed trees, large rocks and lily pads to
Live Bait. Bait
fishing for bass is of course an alternative. Most bass anglers
will "wince" at the thought, but for children
especially, this is a great way to introduce them to the sport of
bass fishing. Bass will take live bait such as a crawfish or
shiners, suspended under a bobber with no weight on the line.
Hook the crawfish in the back or tie it to the hook with some
light line. Live fish can be lip hooked through both lips, or the
dorsal fin (middle of the back) to give an erratic presentation.
Night crawlers and grubs are also effective. (Hot tip: With night
crawlers or grubs, place large offerings of the bait on the hook
if you want to catch a large bass. Small offering will often
catch pan fish or perch, but big baits will deter the smaller
fish from biting at your hook, giving you a better chance of
Well I hope I've helped you sort out the
confusing array of lure choices you have when you first start
bass fishing. Good luck and I'll see you on the water.
Stuart is a pro angler, journalist and NY State Guide who fishes
the B.A.S.S., RED MAN, FOXWOODS and the ABC Tours in the
Northeast. Born and educated in England, Charles fished
professionally in England when he lived there. Charles has now
lived on Long Island, NY for over 15 years. He's fished most
lakes, rivers, streams and ponds on the island. He has fished
from the Canadian border to Florida in search of largemouth and
One of Charle's
objectives is to use the knowledge he has gained to teach young
fishermen and women the joy of the sport and the art of
"catching". Charles feels that, unlike other sports,
all members of the family can enjoy fishing together. To Charles,
fishing is a sport that does not place pressure on a child to
succeed, thereby building the child's confidence and self-esteem.
Charles is sponsored by
Bullet Weights, G.Loomis, Budz Fishin Wayz, Gamakatsu, Lake Hawk,
Chevy Trucks, Hawg-ly Lures, Power Resources cranking &
trolling motor batteries, Uncle Josh, Ike-Con Fishing Tackle,
Snap-Set Spinnerbaits, Map-Trap, and Stamina Components.
You can email Charles