When was the last time you went to the lake or the river to catch bass and came home empty-handed, with nothing to show for the event except a sunburn and heavily growling belly that has been waiting all day to be fed? This is not a rare phenomenon for the large number of anglers who try to outwit this seemingly dim-witted fish. In fact, it is the norm for most of the “wannabe” fishermen who do not go prepared and at least take a gander at current conditions and the habits of the elusive Micropterus psalmodies (largemouth bass). Sometimes it is just as hard to figure out how to catch the fish as it is to say its real name! So we shall now discuss a few successful bass fishing techniques so that you will be more prepared the next time you decide to go one on one with the largemouth.
First you must check the weather. Not for you and your buddies comfort, but there are certain conditions that will make your lunkering more successful. If the weather is bluebird sky sunny, you will have a more difficult time catching fish – of any kind! But it is not impossible to find and catch the fish if you know where to go. In the warmth of the spring and early summer watch along the shorelines for pea gravel banks and overhanging trees and brush that is growing in the edges or has fallen into the edges of the water.
In the spring the fish will be trying to find a good place to spawn, and there are times during this period that the males and females will become much more aggressive from trying to protect their beds, and later on their fry and fingerlings. Also in the summer, especially in the heat of the day, the fish will become more lethargic and will be harder to catch, for they will feed when the sun is not as high. This is for two reasons. First, because of the heat and generally high pressure during these times it is a natural time for the fish to rest. Most of the time they will feed at dawn and at dusk when the heat of the day is not such a factor. Second, they have better cover and more chances of being safe while finding a meal. Shadows play a role in their safety, so follow the edges of them, and let your hunting party find the safe zones that the fish are in.
Another thing you have to be aware of to be successful with bass fishing techniques is the condition of the water. If you are fishing a lake and there has been rain recently the fish will be closer to the banks, hopefully catching clear water run-off which will a lot of time carry food for the fish to eat. If the body of water you are fishing is clear and cool, and the sun is shining brightly, the bait you choose should be light in color and shiny, if possible. When everything is bright in the light, the brighter you make the bait the more likely it will outshine everything else and be more obvious to the fish. The choice of bait is more of a personal choice, for the more comfortable you feel with a particular type of bait, the more you will throw it and the better you will be with using it, so the more fish you will catch with it.
Just remember that if the fish are shallow and feeding you will need to put the bait where the fish are. This means using top water – the spinners, buzz, and rattle baits to name a few. If the skies are more cloudy, match the tone of the bait color to the shade of the clouds, the darker the day, the darker the bait.
If the lunkers are deeper in the water, you have to use baits that will go deeper and stay down so as to tantalize (or aggravate) the fish that are on the bottom. Plastic worms, jigs, and any other baits that tend to stay on the bottom work the best. You still have to match the tone with the light availability; if you are fishing in the dark, such as night time, remember that basic black is not only good for funerals!
For the fall and the early winter months the fish are really reacting to the weather patterns, since they are not spawning they will be trying to prepare themselves for the sluggish time of winter. Fish are particularly sensitive to cold fronts entering an area and will feed heavily in the days and hours before the front comes through. As soon as the front goes through they will stage themselves deeper and be much harder to catch, so more patience (as well as more clothes) are a necessity at this time. The same baits will work at any time of the year if they match all the other conditions prevalent and the time.
Winter is just not the time to fish. It is cold outside. The fish will be cold to handle, that is if you should catch one. Your rod will freeze up from the droplets on the line you have been reeling in from the water. They freeze the rod eyes closed and you have to keep clearing them out, You have to watch the weather for ice and snow. And if there has been any ice and snow recently you have to make sure that there are no slick spots on the ramp that could accidentally ruin a good fishing trip! (Not to mention a perfectly good truck and boat.)
One of the most important things to remember is that fish are very opportunistic eaters. Even if it is the worst conditions for fishing that have ever been, there is always that one cranky fish that is having such a terrible day that he decides to impale himself upon your hook. Hopefully it will be the 12 pounder that you can get some good pictures of – you know you will never catch a fish like that unless you are by yourself – no backup to prove you weren’t just hallucinating from the bad can of Vienna sausages that were left in the boat from last year! Successful bass fishing techniques are not hard to remember. Just don’t forget that no matter how good you get you will always have to have PROOF!