Bass fishing is a very popular pastime for professional anglers and hobby enthusiasts alike. They’re accessible prey for anyone looking to get out on the water. They’re commonly found in lakes and still bodies of water and enjoy areas with sand or gravel floors.
They’re pretty quickly attracted by artificial lures and live bait alike, so your options are pretty open when it comes to what to reel them in with. Largemouth bass can typically be around 15 to 16 inches in length, with smallmouth bass being closer to the 12 to 14-inch range.
There have been cases where an angler caught a 38-inch long bass, so while these average sizes certainly aren’t small there’s always a chance you could land a big one. However it isn’t always easy, and even the pros could use a few pointers from time to time.
Bass can be a finicky fish depending on the weather, the wind, how warm it is outside, and other variables. We’ll walk through the do’s and don’ts to bass fishing to ensure your next trip is a success.
Tips for Bass Fishing
Bass fishing is a great way for people interested in fishing to get into the game, but it isn’t as simple as throwing your line and expecting immediate success. Here are 10 tips for having a successful fishing trip.
1. Know What They Eat
When it comes to their diet, bass can be pretty aggressive. Their preferences will range depending on what’s available but they have been known to hunt after leeches, minnows, bluegill, shad, and even ducklings.
Make sure that your bait matches whatever it is that they eat in their area by studying the environment and taking notes on the local bass. If the fish are eating more shad and bluegill, then a crankbait that matches their patterns will be best, or if they prefer minnows where you’re fishing then a drop shot ring could be more successful.
2. Know When and Where Bass Like To Hide
While you might be able to locate bass out in the open water, they’re often found hiding and laying low. This is because they sneak up on their prey and the additional covering allows them to do so more easily. Keep an eye out for lily pads, tall grass, docks, and other potential spots where they could be lurking.
Because they prefer coverage for stealth, it’s also good to know that fishing in the evening or even at night is likely going to get you the best results. When it’s dark out the fish are more likely to become active, compared to the daytime when they’re more visible to their prey.
3. Acknowledge the Weather
The weather plays a big role in any hunting situation and bass are no different. Plan and prepare accordingly for whatever circumstances you might be in to make your experience more enjoyable in the boat, but also keep in mind how the bass will react.
While a sunny day out on the water might sound like a wonderful way to spend your weekend, you’ll actually have a harder time catching your prey in this condition. Bass like cover and the ability to sneak up on their food becomes more difficult when the sun is out, so they tend to hide away.
Instead, you should be hoping for some overcast whenever you go out. The bass will be much more active and eager to move around and attack, including your bait. When you’re fishing on a cloudy day, try active bait that moves like spinnerbaits. You can still catch bass in the sun, but they won’t be as excited to investigate your lure.
4. Master Your Knots
While a master fisherman may already have this one in the bag, it’s incredibly important to have your knot tying skills down to second nature. You don’t want to be fumbling out in the boat as you’ll lose precious time, and you definitely don’t want to lose a fish because your knot came loose.
You don’t need to master every knot or even really more than one—just have a solid, multi-use knot that you can do with your eyes closed all day. If you’re looking for a great knot to learn for bass fishing, we recommend the Palomar knot for its ease of use and reliability.
5. Take Advantage of Technology
Some anglers prefer to keep things traditional, and we totally get it. Fishing is a historic and traditional form of hunting and some people don’t want a bunch of tech tools beeping or flashing around them.
However, technology has advanced to the point where if you truly want a successful fishing trip then it would be silly to ignore all of the advantages you can have, simply by utilizing modern devices. Digital services offer valuable information on the water you fish in and online you can find references from other fishermen who had positive or negative experiences to help you hone in and have a strategy wherever you’re going.
6. Use the Wind
When the wind is really picking up it doesn’t seem like the ideal time to go fishing. It’s difficult to keep your boat steady, your cast gets messed up, and it’s just generally an unpleasant experience, especially if it starts to rain.
But the wind can be your best friend when going after bass as it will provide ample coverage for your boat. You can also add more camouflage to your boat with a protective and stylish vinyl coat. Also, the bass will be stimulated by the activity on the surface of the water the wind causes, meaning that the odds of getting a bite increase.
It might not be the most fun while in the boat, but you’re likely to have good success while fishing in the wind.
7. Be Aware of Water Temperature
Bass will act significantly differently depending on the temperature of the water, so it’s critical to keep that in mind when you’re setting out on your fishing trip. In colder water, they’ll be a bit more sluggish while warmer waters will have them moving around and more active.
If the water is on the cooler side, be gentle with your toss and keep your bait moving slowly. If you’re working with warm water then try to be a bit more aggressive with your cast and lure as the bass will be more interested in pursuing it.
The best time of the year to go out bass fishing is going to be Fall and Spring because those seasons are not too cold and not too hot. This ensures that the bass will be out and about, but not so much that they skip right by your bait.
8. Push Yourself Out of Your Comfort Zone
While it’s important to know as much as you can about the bass, it’s equally essential to be aware of your own skills and regularly push yourself to learn more. A fisherman's worst quality is the inability to adapt and this is commonly found in those who stick to the same spot and circumstances every time they go out.
You can strengthen your abilities to adapt to whatever comes your way by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and learning as many skills and techniques as possible so that no matter what conditions you show up to or however the fish are acting, you’ll be ready.
9. Consider Your Scent
Believe it or not, bass have an amazing sense of smell that’s even better than a dog’s. They can be pulled in or scared off depending on what they’re picking up, inside and outside of the water.
Make sure to wash your hands regularly while fishing, especially if you have to handle any gasoline as that will definitely tip them off that you aren’t there to be friends. As far as your bait goes, you might consider a little garlic or salt in addition to whatever you're using.
9. Be Patient
This goes for pretty much all fishing, but it’s true and easy to overlook sometimes. Fishing can take a while, and just because one spot doesn’t bring you any quick bites or success doesn’t mean you should move on too soon.
Especially if you’ve done your research and you’ve found a spot in which you're confident that the bass are, it’s better to focus on that location and be persistent than to try multiple different spots around the water. Let the bass come to you because you’ll have a much harder time trying to chase them down.
10. Keep It Simple
Bass are relatively easy to catch, which is what makes them a great target for people who want to get more into fishing. We’ve mentioned using technology and bait that might move around, but the truth is that the key to fishing for bass is to keep it simple.
By all means, do your research and know as much as you can about your surroundings, but you don’t really need a lot of flashy gadgets or fancy bait devices. Even simply using worms is a good plan for bass fishing. Don’t overwork yourself with advanced techniques or too much movement once your bait is in the water, let the bass come to you.
If You’re Looking for Dinner
Most anglers will catch and release any bass that they catch, but if you were wondering, you can absolutely eat the fish if you want to! Some people have a belief that bass are toxic or aren’t good for consumption, and while this might be true for sea bass, freshwater bass are completely safe to eat and are full of healthy omega-3 fats and lots of protein.
The main reason that catch and release is common practice when bass fishing is that the taste isn’t always popular. Particularly in warm or muddy waters, the fish isn’t going to be winning any competitions on the dinner plate.
However, if you’re interested in trying bass, clear, freshwater is your best bet (smallmouth bass in particular). Smallmouth bass aren't as commonly found as largemouth bass, but if you want to find them then look for cold waters and do your research.
It won’t be quite as delicious as trout or halibut, but with the right recipe and seasonings, you can definitely catch yourself a fine meal. Just make sure your cooler is prepped at the start of the day until you’re ready to start cooking.
At the End of the Day
Bass are a relatively easy fish to pursue, and with these tips, your success rate only goes up. Keep in mind the wind, weather, and temperature of the water you’re fishing in to know how the bass will react and how you should be operating.
If you’re looking for dinner, try to find a spot where smallmouth bass are more common by using technology and online information and make sure to find a highly rated bass recipe to make sure it’s delicious, and don’t forget your hunting knife.