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Finding Largemouth Bass

Knowing where and when to find your fish is the most important aspect to being an excellent largemouth bass fisher.

Largemouth bass can be found generally in any freshwater pond, lake, river or stream. Since they have a high tolerance to salt-water they can also be found in tidewater rivers. Largemouth bass are most comfortable in water depths between five and 15 feet but will go deeper then 20 feet or into shallow waters only a few inches deep to feed. They prefer water temperatures between 68 and 78ºF but can survive in waters that are near-freezing. Here are some prime locations for largemouth bass during different seasons.

 

In natural lakes:

Early spring:

  • Shallow bays with mud-bottoms
  • Channels and harbors that warm earliest

 

Spawning time:

·         Protected bays and shorelines with a firm sandy bottom

 

Summer and early fall:

·         Weedlines, points and humps that have a weedy or rocky cover and slope gradually into deeper water.

·         Slop bays where there is dense overhead vegetation that keeps the water cooler.

 

Late fall and winter:

  • Humps, points and other such structures that rapidly slope into deep waters
  • Inside turns along breaklines
  • Shallow flats on warmer days

 

In Man-made lakes:

Early spring through spawning:

  • Back ends of shallow or brushy creek areas.

 

Late spring and summer:

  • Main lake points close to the old river channel
  • Intersections and beds in the old river channel or deep in creek channels
  • Humps with submerged weeds or standing timber
  • Timbered flats

 

Early falls:

  • Back ends of creek arms

 

Late fall and winter:

  • Deep main-lake points
  • Main river channels

 

In rivers:

Early spring through spawning:

  • Shallow, dead-end sloughs and other backwaters off the main river
  • Shallow sandbars
  • Stump fields

 

Late spring to early fall:

  • Sloughs with currents
  • Deep backwaters
  • Side channels into backwaters
  • Wingdams
  • Deep eddies and outside bends
  • Undercut banks and ledges

 

Late fall and winter:

  • Deep areas of main channels
  • Deep holes in backwaters
  • Near warm water discharges

 

Keep this information handy and you will be able to catch largemouth bass in any body of water at any time of year. Finding fish all the time in any situation is the most important step before catching them.

Catching Largemouth Bass

There are many different ways to catch largemouth bass. These feisty fish will strike at almost anything but will give you a hard fight. All lures have their advantages and disadvantages when catching largemouth bass in different situations. Largemouth bass are easy to find if you know where to look and will generally bite even if they are not hungry. Here are a few tips and tricks for catching largemouth bass with every type of lure.

Fishing with spinner baits:

For an all season type of lure, most effect in the spring, you should use a spinner bait. They have a safety-pin design, most are snag-less and because of the bent shaft the upturned hook is concealed. Since spinner baits have this unique design, you can use them to fish for largemouth bass in heavy cover and weeds and not have to worry about the lure getting caught.

The style of the blade will also effect how well your spinner bait works. Colorado blades have more water resistance so they spin better on a slow retrieve and ride higher. Willow-leaf blades have a lower water-resistance but can be retrieved faster, making them ideal for locating largemouth bass. Willow-leafs can also be fished deeper.

Spinners are normally used for shallow water situations but some heavier models can be used in deeper waters. They can jigged in waters from 20 to 30 feet deep and even run on the surface. To get depth most anglers will use a ¼ to one ounce spinner bait. For extra attraction, tip your spinner bait with a soft-plastic grub or a pork frog.

There are three main ways to fish with your spinner baits: bulging, slow-rolling and helicoptering. When bulging hold your rod tip high and reel fast so that the blades will not quite break the surface and create a bulge. Largemouth bass will come up out of deep cover with this retrieval method. When slow-rolling bump your spinner into weeds, branches and other objects so that the change in actions of the blade will attack bass in heavy dense cover that are not particularly active. When helicoptering reel a single spinner bait up to cover and let it sink vertically. As it sinks the blades will spin causing bass holding tight to vertical cover to strike.

Fishing with subsurface plugs

Subsurface plugs are hard-bodied lures that make it possible to cover a lot of area in a hurry even if bass are deep. They can be retrieved quickly and provide a wiggle which most largemouth bass are tempted by. The most common sizes for subsurface plugs when fishing largemouth bass are three to six inches in length. There are four main types of subsurface plugs: crankbaits, minnowbaits, trolling plugs and vibrating plugs.

Crankbaits have a relatively short, deep body with a broad plastic or metal lip that give them a strong wiggle. They can dive anywhere from a few feet to almost 30 feet in depth depending which ones you buy. These baits work well in all temperatures of water. In cold water it is best to use a slower stop and go type retrieve since largemouth bass are more lethargic in cooler waters.

Minnowbaits have a narrow lip that gives them more of a wiggle and a long slim body. A longer lip will make them run deep. Some types of minnowbaits are weighted to make them buoyant so that you can stop your retrieve and float the bait without worrying about the bait floating up.

Trolling plugs have flattened foreheads that give them a very enticing wobble. They are harder to cast but are a good choice for covering a large area of water.

Vibrating plugs sink well and have a tight vibrating wiggle because of the attachment eye on the back. They do not have a lip and can be fished at any depth.

When fishing with subsurface plugs bump the bottom or allow the plug to hit submerged objects to change its action. If you want weight it down with strips of golfers tape to achieve buoyancy. Seal the tape with epoxy glue.

Fishing in topwater

Fishing topwater is where largemouth bass fishing gets exciting. When the conditions are right, largemouth bass are a very co-operative surface feeder and strike explosively at surface lures. Fishing topwater is most effective when the water is calm; the temperature exceeds 60ºF early or late in the day or at night. When largemouth bass are in heavy cover, however, they will strike surface at midday. There are six main types of baits that anglers will use: stickbaits, chuggers, crawlers, probaits, buzzbaits, frogs and rats.

Stickbaits have no action of there own and are long and slim with a weighted tail. This weighted tail comes in handy when walking-the-dog or retrieving the bait with a twitching action which in turn gives the bait a side-to-side wiggle.

Chuggers produce a sharp chugging sound when you give them a sharp retrieve twitch because of their concave, scooped out face. Retrieve them with rapid twitches so that the water is thrown as it moves.

Crawlers are best retrieved with a slow steady motion so that they seem to crawl along. The broad face plate or collapsible arms are responsible for this crawling motion.

Probaits are very similar to stickbaits but probaits have a propeller on either one or both ends. The best way to fish them is with a twitch and pause retrieve, remember that when you reel rapidly they will throw water because of their propellers.

Buzzbaits will create a lot of surface disturbance with a slow and steady retrieve. They are built with a large blade and a safety-pin design that makes the bait weedless.

Frogs and rats are usually made of soft rubber and have a weedless design. They are best used in heavily matted weeds.

Remember to tie your line directly to the lure instead of using a heavy clip or snap swivel. The extra weight will cause the bait to dive and in topwater fishing, you do not want the bait to dive. Before you set the hook, wait until you feel the fish rather than setting the hook when a splash occurs.

 

Fishing with jigs

Jigs are ideal in cool or cold water although they will catch largemouth bass every time. Jigs are the best lures for pin-point presentation to bass that are holding onto tight spots. Jigging means to work your bait with a rapid up and down motion but jigs do not necessarily have to be fished that way, they can be inched along the bottom. You can use a variety of lures with jig fishing but the most common are lead head jigs and jigging spoons. Jigging lures come in four types: lead head jigs, jigging spoons, vibrating blades and tailspins.

Lead-head jigs are usually called bass jigs. They can be dressed with hair, rubber skirts, feathers, pork rind and plastic tails. If you are suing lead-heads in heavy cover you should have some kind of weedguard so they do not get caught on the weeds.

Jigging spoons are slim, long and heavy which makes them ideal for vertical jigging in very deep water. Because of their shape, they look like a struggling baitfish. They can sink to almost fifty feet because of their weight.

Vibrating blades are made of a thin metal and will produce and intense vibration if they are jigged vertically. Sometimes they can be used as a crankbait if the situation is right.

Tailspins have a heavy lead body which makes them ideal for vertically jigging in deep water. When the lure is pulled up the spinner on the tail will spin and as the lure is dropped back it will helicopter. They can also be used for casting long-distances to catch schooling bass.

Lead-head jigs are best tipped with a pork trailer. When you tip a jig with pork it is called a jig-and-pig, tipped with a crawfish, it is called a jig-and-craw. When securing the pork trailer to the jig make sure it is threaded unto the grub body so that it will not slide up the shank and foul your line. To trigger a strike, shake a bass jig and let it rest in place, largemouth bass will inhale the jig after it stops moving.

Fishing with weedless spoons

Weedless spoons are the oldest of bass baits and are no less effective today when they were half a century ago. They can be used in heavy vegetation and brushy covers to catch bass. The only drawback with weedless spoons is the tendency for the fish to strike short of the actual lure, meaning they will nip at the trailer. If you set the hook upon feeling this nip, you will lose the fish so wait until you feel the weight of the fish on your line.

Weedless spoons come in all types but most are made of either metal or plastic and have some type of wire, plastic or nylon bristle weedguard to keep the hook from getting tangled in dense weeds. Metal spoons are used for fan-casting large areas of heavy weeds because they sink quickly since they are heavier. Hard plastic spoons are lighter and used to slide over the weeds with their hook facing up.

Metal spoons are often called subsurface spoons since they are used generally to fish beneath the surface. They will usually come with a spinner or propeller at the front end for extra attraction and extra lift. Hard plastic spoons are normally called surface spoons since they will skitter along the surface of the water instead of sinking. They are generally not heavy enough to cast over long distances.

When you are using a surface spoon, crawl it over matted weeds to draw bass up from the heavy cover. Do not reel too rapidly or else the fish will not be able to strike at the bait. When you are fishing with a subsurface spoon use a pork-rind attractor and reel it through dense vegetation. As it bumps off the weeds, the lure will have an erratic action.

Fishing with soft plastics

Soft plastics are a favorite among bass anglers because they look and feel like real bait. They were introduced in the 1950’s and since they have been responsible for catching so many bass that one southern state introduced legislation to ban them. They come in three main types: plastic worms, creatures and soft stickbaits.

Plastic worms are available in many different shapes and sizes but the majority of largemouth bass fishers will use worms from six inches to eight inches in length. These lengths of worms are big enough to attract a good sized bass and have an enticing action if they are fished at a slow pace. If the worm is longer than ten inches, the percentage of catching fish is lower. Most worms today are scent-impregnated like many other soft baits.

Creatures include soft plastics molded to look like crayfish, lizards, frogs, salamanders, eels and many other imitation foods that largemouth bass eat. They also come in many shapes and sizes and can also be scented to further entice largemouth bass.

Soft stickbaits usually have a straight but tapered designed to swim side-to-side erratically with a twitching motion. Most will range in a size between four and six inches in length.

Since largemouth bass are generally found in some type of cover, most fishers will prefer to rig their soft plastics Texas style. If you rig a soft plastic with a bullet sinker, you will be able to fish in the heaviest cover without being hung-up since the hook point is buried in the lure. The only disadvantage to this rigging style is that during the hook set the hook has to pass through the work before it penetrates the mouth of the fish which will lower your hooking percentage.

You can also rig your hook in a Caroline rigging style so that the bullet sinker is position well up the line rather then ridding on the nose of the bait as with Texas style. The bait will sink much more slowly with Caroline style and will have a more enticing action. Depending how heavy the cover is will determine whether or not your hook will get stuck since your hook may or may not be buried in the bait with this rigging style.

No matter what style or type or lure you use, always remember that it is the action of the lure that will attract the fish. If the lure is not enticing enough to the largemouth bass, it might not strike even though largemouth bass are known to strike at almost anything.

Knowing Largemouth Bass

Largemouth bass are North America’s favorite fish for their explosive strike, breath-taking leaps and stubborn fights.

Largemouth bass are found basically everywhere in the United States and in the Southern areas of Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia and parts of British Columbia. Largemouth bass can survive in any fresh water lake, pond or stream. Largemouth bass are willing biters and stubborn fighters. They will attack anything and once they snag a meal, the will not let go.

Largemouth bass are a warm water fish but can survive in near freezing water. Once the water temperature hits below 50ºF, they do very little feeding. Largemouth bass are actually part of the sunfish family and can live as long as 16 years though it is unusual to find one over 10 years old.

Largemouth bass spawn when water temperatures reach the low to mid 60ºF. They spawn in bays, cuts or channels protected from the wind. Males will use their tales to clear out silt so a firm sandy bottom is reached. The female will move in, release her eggs than leave the male to protect the nest until the young can survive on their own. The male will strike at anything that threatens the nest; this is why in some states it is prohibited to fish during spawning and nesting season.

Largemouth bass will eat anything: small fish, crayfish, frogs, insects, their own young, salamander, worms, snails, leeches, turtles, small snakes and sometimes even small birds. This non-finicky eating habit is why they can adept and survive in any body of water.

Largemouth bass, like walleye, do not like bright sunlight and tend to be more active in dim and low light conditions. During a sunny summer day they will only feed at dusk and dawn spending midday along drop offs near a food source. On a rainy or cloudy day fishing is good but during of after a thunderstorm, largemouth bass will not bite.

Largemouth bass prefer temperatures of 68-78ºF and are more tolerate to salt water than other freshwater fish. Since they are more tolerant to salt-water you will sometimes find them in tidewater rivers. They can also be found in weedy natural lakes, sluggish streams, small pits and ponds as well as reservoirs with plenty of wood cover. They will be comfortable in just about any water depth of water from only a few inches to 20 feet or more.

There are two subspecies of largemouth bass, the Florida largemouth bass and the Northern largemouth bass. The two look almost identical except that the Florida grow much faster than its Northern relatives. The Florida also have smaller scales in comparison to its body size. The scale count along the lateral line for the Florida is 69 to 73 while the Northern have a scale count of 59-65. An eight year old Florida can weigh about 10 pounds where a Northern of the same age will only weigh five pounds. All bass are normally a greenish to tannish color with a dark top and white belly. The lateral line is also dark and tends to fade in and out.

Largemouth bass will generally try to stay in water between five and 15 feet but will move to deeper waters or more shallow waters to find food. They will stay around emergent vegetation, like bulrushes; floating vegetation, like lily pads; submerged weeds, like coontails; overhanging trees; stumps; brush; bridge pilings; and boat docks. To fish these stubborn fighters you must learn to be versatile and be able to fish in all situations.