Hi there partner, and welcome to Bass Fishing: The Ultimate Beginners Guide To Bass Fishing, the ultimate beginners guide to catching more bass. I’m delighted to meet you.
There is just something very wholesome about bass fishing. Sometimes, it’s a solitary pursuit that you can enjoy alone while basking in some jaw-dropping natural landscape, while other times it’s a fierce competition. But whether you’re fishing alone in the middle of a tranquil lake, or doing battle with your rivals for big, glory-stealing trophy bass, bass fishing is always a very rewarding way to spend your day.
And it’s even more rewarding when you know what you’re doing!
A reason why bass are among America’s most sought-after gamefish is that bass are pretty easy to catch compared to numerous other species. Why? Because there are SO many of them!
This, of course, doesn’t mean you can simply pitch up at a lake, toss your bait and reel in pound after pound of mega-hungry fish. Not a chance!
For this reason, My goal is to arm you with the right bass fishing secrets and techniques needed to make the most of all those fish swimming in our reservoirs. The fish are out there, but they’re not going to just come to you if you whistle. You need to know how to coax them.
I cover everything you need to know as a beginner, from packing the right gear, to how to fish in the summer and the winter - two very extreme seasons.
Location is also super important. Just like a bad location can reap zero rewards, an ace location can send you home grinning. I always make sure to pick the best lakes when I go bass fishing. I don’t just choose a lake simply on the strength of its bass fish pickings. I consider other factors, such as the views, the town - and the sunrises and sunsets.
Let’s get started!
If I asked you to name some bass fishing tackle the pros always pack with them, what sort of things would typically spring to mind?
I know what I always think of straight away. Straight away, right off the bat, my mind is always cast to a fishing line, a fishing rod, a reel, and my trusty tackle box that is stuffed with numerous types of lures.
This is probably what most people think of should they be asked to name some typical bass fishing tackle. It’s a reasonable response.
But the truth is that there is also a lot of other gear on the market that will enhance you bass fishing trip even more so that you get as much out of it as possible.
Indeed, the gear you take with you will often make the important difference between bagging that normally elusive trophy bass and returning with yet another “if only” story.
And, yes, I returned home, head bowed with an “if only” story the first time I went bass fishing.
But as my uncle explained to me, a bass angler is only as good as his tools. Get your gear right and you’re halfway there already.
As such, I’m using this opening section to share with you the essential bass fishing tackle you need to take out with you on EVERY fishing trip.
The Reel And The Rod
It’s a bit of an obvious one? Sure it is, but let’s start at the beginning. The first thing you should always pack is your important rod and reel. If this isn’t your first ever time fishing, you’ll know how difficult this can be. If this is your first time fishing, let me be the one to tell you that this is easier said than done.
There are a LOT of options open to you, but to make things easier, let’s narrow down your choices to a short list of bait caster, spin caster and spinning, as well as heavy to medium action, and slow or fast speed.
As you can tell, there are plenty of options. What you use for a session will depend on a few variables, including not least the weather.
The Tackle Box
- Spinner baits
- Crank baits - make sure that you pack colourful ones for in case you run into some darker conditions, as well as a few natural colours ones for transparent water
- Plastic worms
- A few frogs
Obviously, you should also include your weights, hooks and swivels, but these are standard bass fishing fare.
Items Which Are Often Overlooked
It always amazes me when I see bass anglers pitching up without the kind of items that I consider damn near essential. I’m no stickler, and the items in the list below are for your consideration only, but I really think many bass anglers are handicapping themselves by constantly overlooking the use of some of these neglected items of the your kit.
Some - such as a flash light - will help you to overcome unexpected poor lighting conditions (which does happen!), while others, such as extra fishing line, are just plain common sense.
- Lip grippers or landing net
- Sunblock and polarised sunglasses
- Lure retriever
- Needle nose pliers
- Small rag or towel
- Knife or any kind of multi-tool
- First aid kit
- Hook remover - essential for bass which inhale your hook, and which are unreachable with pliers
- Flash light
- Pre-made leaders
- Extra fishing line
- Measuring device, such as a ruler
- Fish scale
If you’re going to be indulging in some bank fishing, I also suggest packing the following items:
- Bait bucket (to act for your live bait)
- Rod holders
- Cast net (only really for if you want to catch your own bait)
5 Best Techniques For Maximum Results
Just like a basketball player needs to learn the best techniques for shooting hoops and a guitarist needs to learn the best techniques for playing solos, a bass angler needs to arm themselves with the best techniques for catching bass.
The key techniques I discuss in this section are aimed at all of you. So whether you want to compete in tournaments or enjoy yourself on a weekend fishing trip, the tricks of the trade outlined here are useful to you all. They’re designed to maximise success and performance.
As I outlined earlier, there are a lot of bass fish in our lakes. But you need to know how to catch them. In other words, your technique has gotta be on point.
Pitching and Flipping
Sometimes, it feels as though the bass fish are hiding. And when they’re being so shy, you have to enter stealth mode to have any luck at all.
In such circumstances, the last thing you want to do is freak them out. How do you avoid spooking them? You pitch and flip.
These methods are fairly similar to one another, but which one you employ depends on the instance. For good pitching and flipping, you need to first of all practice, practice, practice.
Then, you need a long rod, as well as an appropriate soft-plastic bait.
Pitching is easier than flipping, but it isn’t as accurate. You need to let enough line out so that it’s the same length as the reel (which should be kept open).
Then, press your thumb on the reel spool and lower your rod tip to the water before grabbing hold of your worm and pulling on the line.
Let go of the worm smoothly and swing your rod tip upwards. Then, lift your thumb from your reel spool.
It will take a bit of practice to get these steps spot on. This technique can be also used on saltwater fishing
Flipping will take even more practice than pitching to nail, but once you’ve got your technique all sorted, you will be able to hit your targeted spot with greater accuracy than pitching allows.
To start, let out up to 14 feet of your line before closing your reel.
Then, grab hold of the line between the first rod guide and reel before extending your arm to your side while pulling on the line.
As you raise the road, the bait will swing your way. Employ a pendulum motion at this point until your bait swings to your desired location and feed the line through your free hand.
As you prepare for a strike, tighten up what is left of the slack.
It looks unorthodox but it works for coaxing shy bass out of their shells.
Ask any bass angler what excites them the most, and there’s a good chance they’ll say catching fish using a top water bait.
Picture it: You can hear the tremulous sounds of the lure. All of a sudden, you spot an approaching fish. And as soon as a largemouth at last strikes, the big waves it makes gets your heart pumping.
It’s pretty darn exhilarating.
There are numerous top water baits for you to choose from, including frogs, jitterbugs, and poppers.
Jitterbugs are among the easiest to use, while others require more finesse and technique.
The popper is almost self explanatory - you need to “pop” the lure as it’s caught. Let it go steady by pausing every few seconds.
Crank baits provide reflex for a bass. They aren’t going to hunt it down like they would a top water, but presentation and noise are still part of your weaponry here.
Many tournament anglers use crank baits because they cover a lot of water and at varying depths. They work best around rocks, stumps and logs, but it will take a degree of practice before you fully understand how they work.
Crank baits are essentially a teasing lure. You want to catch the bass’s attention by rapidly reeling, before pausing to allow the bait to rise slowly. Reel up once more before halting again.
As you would expect, this will drive the fish mad. More importantly, they will think they’ve got easy prey on their hands.
Spinner baits will be harder to master than crank baits, primarily because the design of the lure is not going to tempt the fish as much.
But once you’ve hooked a bass, it’s more difficult for the fish to toss the bait.
Spinner baits are usually always effective if you get your technique right, and they can be used all-year round.
One way of using the spinner bait is to toss near a drop off and let the bait sink to the bottom. Do this a few times over and over while reeling in at different paces.
Reel in slowly, and the bait swims deeper through the water column. Reel in quicker, and it will swim higher.
Some bass will find spinner bait just just before the surface impossible to resist.
How to choose location?
There are a few things you need in order to excel at bass fishing. Equipment goes without saying. But a really important ingredient that I haven’t covered so far is location.
Head to the wrong lake and it doesn’t matter how good you think you are - you’re gonna be sat there for hours and hours on end without any luck.
Go to the right lakes, and you’ll see some awesome results.
In truth, there are hundreds of lakes across America that are home to bass fish. But there are only a handful that are the best for bass fishing.
Back in 2012, Falcon Lake, Texas, was rated the number 1 lake for bass fishing, but things have changed. And in this section, I’m going to give you the lowdown on the best lakes to go bass fishing.
Harlan County Reservoir
In the Harlan County reservoir you’ll find plenty of Walleye bass fish. You should be quite happy with this, because Walleye aren’t really targeted that much. You’ve got a lot to feast on here. Go for it!
Ross Barnett Reservoir
The Ross Barnett reservoir is one of my personal favourites, and was popular during the March 2016 Bass Pro Shops Bass Master Central Open.
It’s actually one of the oldest lakes on our list, but new has been detected which means it’s still got a very bright and exciting future.
Lake Cumberland, Kentucky
Bass fishing at Lake Cumberland was suspended back in 2011 when the dam cracked, but it’s back in full swing now and positively brimming with bass fish.
As a matter of fact, I took a look at the Lake Cumberland Bass Club Facebook page, and I learned that winning heights in 2016 are around twenty pounds. That’s pretty darn swell!
Logan Martin Lake, Alabama
Fancy a trip down south? Logan Martin Lake is worth a visit.
According to Aaron Martens, this is actually among the best spotted lakes in America at the moment.
The May FLW event backed him up, as there were ten limits that went above fifteen pounds. That’s fantastic.
Lake Hartwell, South Carolina
I visited 2016’s Bass Master Classic at Lake Hartwell, and saw just how good it is under some really tough conditions. It coped well, with fisherman Casey Ashley scooping top prize on the basis of his 20.3 limit, which he got on the last day.
And let me tell you - it was COLD.
If Casey can do that in such brutal conditions, just think what you can do when the weather is kinder.
Squaw Creek Reservoir, Texas
Squaw Creak reservoir has a bit of a checkered past. It was originally built to cool down a nearby nuclear power plant. In 2001, it was shut down for a number of years in the wake of 9/11.
Nowadays, it’s one of the best lakes in Texas for bass anglers.
Apache Lake, Arizona
You will appreciate the stunning natural beauty if you visit this lake. Formed next to the magnificent Salt River, Apache Lake has to be one of the most idyllic places to go bass fishing. In the summer, the heat gets intense, though.
Earlier this year, 21.87 scooped top prize.
Dale Hollow Reservoir, Kentucky
Fun fact: Dale Hollow reservoir produced the world’s biggest small mouth. Weighing 11.93 pounds, it was hooked by David Hayes.
Admittedly, this lake doesn’t always come up with goods. It has good and not so good cycles. Right now, as I write this, it’s experiencing an upturn in fortunes. Visit soon if you don’t want to miss out.
Cooper River, South Carolina
I’ve never been to this particular river, but it’s massively popular with bass anglers right now. Not much info exists about it, but earlier this year Brian Tyler weighed in a 5-bass limit of forty-two. Three pounds. Not bad, huh?
And get this - his largest fish tipped the scales at a whopping 10.87 pounds.
Lewis and Clarke Lake, South Dakota
Again, this is another lake I have yet to visit but it’s on my list - near the top, in fact.
According to state fisheries good people, there is an abundance of small mouth fish here, while the large mouth populations are growing rapidly right now.
Go to the small side for the smalls, and the shallows for the bigger bites. Enjoy.
Red River, Louisiana
This is a river I have been to - and it’s one of my favourites.
It’s not for everyone, and this stretch of backwater has its critics. To me, though, it’s a bit of a masterpiece.
MillWood Lake, Arkansas
Earlier this year, a competitor caught a bass fish that weighed a staggering 23.51 pounds.
He didn’t win, though. A guy who hooked a 23.72 pounds won.
Bass Fishing Tips For The Summer
When we hit the peak of summer, the game changes, the big fish have suddenly disappeared.
Whether you’re after small or larger-mouth bass, you have to be flexible enough to change your strategy if you want to make the most of the summer months. The last thing you want to do is dry up. After all, spring and summer make up half of the years’ seasons. You don’t want to be out of action for half a year!
Spring angling isn’t really any better than summer, but bass are definitely more “available” when the temperatures are down. That’s just the way it is. When the temperatures are up, the bass go deeper - which mean you have to think deeper.
Searing summer days raise surface temperatures, which pretty much renders top water action totally redundant. The only time when you the bass fish are reasonably readily available is in the very early morning. All of a sudden, those shallow flats and coves that were so productive just a few weeks ago a now veritable ghost towns. There is nothing there.
It’s during the summer when all the expensive bass-angling gear you invested in pays dividends. The fish-finding electronic your uncle recommended you now has a use!
And it’s the summer season that separates the wheat from the chaff; the champions from the pretenders.
I can’t tell you the amount of times an angler has said to me after another day fishing in unbelievably hot weather that he caught over a hundred bass - but non weighing over a pound!
It happens. And once it happens, you need to change your tactics immediately because what worked during the spring won’t work for the next few weeks.
When it first happened to me - catching myriad waifs in lakes normally home to lots of decent-sized bass - it took me a while to cotton on. Now, as soon as I catch a couple of waifs, I’m changing tactics instantly.
The reason you’ll find a higher concentration of smaller bass than bigger bass now that the summer has struck in the spots you usually frequent is that smaller bass can tolerate warmer waters a lot more than bigger bass. They don’t need as much oxygen to function.
So, as soon as you notice you’re picking up way more smaller fish than usual, head out of there.
Alternatively, you can bypass the smaller fish by giving them little to no reason to grab your bait. For example, you could fish with stupidly-weighted jigs.
The problem with rock bottoms
Arguably one of your biggest problems during the summer is rock bottoms, where even the fanciest jigs tend to get wedged in boulder cracks and between rocks.
This happens a lot when you bottom bounce. To prevent this from happening, go for the most inexpensive bulk lead head jigs in the store.
Another way to solve the heavy-tackle conundrum is via a bottom-bouncing rig. This technique is employed by salmon fisherman. Your setup should consist of a 3-way swivel that you to your main line. You also want a Texas-rigged plastic riding of, say, a foot and a half of a 12 pound test, and a three/eight to one/two ounce weight that rides on four and a half feet of a lighter line.
Know Your Bass
Balmy summer heat drives us humans crazy. It also drives bass crazy, too. The hotter it gets, the more aggressive they become.
Fish, like us, burn more fuel when it’s hot. As a result, they need to eat more. So locate feeding fish, and don’t be afraid to check shallow areas, regardless of how shallow they are.
If you’re fish in docks, go to the most difficult to reach spots. If you’re fishing thick vegetation, I recommend using weight to help you get beneath the weeds.
How to cast a pitch?
If you’re after big game this summer, don’t take a match stick. I toss a Texas-rigged worm when the weather is at its hottest, and I combine it with a seven-feet heavy-duty rod. I fish big, and use a 7.5” for the large mouth bass.
Flip Them Out
I remember bass angling one time in Lake Toho, situated in Florida. It was tough because, not only was the heat stultifying, but I had to plough through thick vegetation.
I used a seven-foot 11” heavy-scion rod and a Texas-rigged Bass Assassin’s Jingle Bug that combine with a 6/o Strike King Hack Attack Flipping Hook.
It’s essential that, during your flip, you make your bait turn over.
Bass Fishing Tips For The Winter
Just as there is a right and wrong way to fish for bass in the summer, there is also a right and wrong way to fish for bass in the winter.
Fishing for bass in the winner is arguably more difficult because of the colder conditions. An icy-wind snapping at your face is an endurance test in itself. But get your techniques and tactics right, and you can at least finish a bitterly cold day on a high.
Firstly, retrieve speed is super important in cold water. Some bass fishers might contest that they don’t change their speed from summer to winter, but the successful ones will admit that slowing down is one of their best tricks.
As biologists will attest, it isn’t usual for bass fish to go after a lure in water which is significantly less than 50 degrees. In fact, the only time they will is after a period of warmer days, when the bass has moved up to shallower water. So, the first general rule is to present slower during the winter months.
A grub is highly effective in cold water. To catch a good amount of bass, all you really need is a four inch curly trail grub on a quarter-ounce jig head. I suggest targeting steep, rocky banks because bass fish are able to make extreme depth changes without expelling much energy.
Toss to the shallow edge of a steep bank before letting the grub sink. Make sure that your rod tip is raised as the bait arrives at the bottom in order to raise the grub into the water column. I recommend that you repeat this technique for maximum success. Bass prefer to bit the grub when it’s falling, so get your hook ready.
If you’re on the lookout for winter trophy bass, you need to master the weather patterns because timing is key. When there is a break in the frosty temperatures, you’ve got a chance to strike. Weather fronts tend to come and go every two weeks, and warmer fronts will bring with them a barometric pressure change, as well as warmer rain, both of which entice the bass fish to come out and play.
During a warming weather trend, the bass are encouraged to feed and your bait will find areas with the warmest water. Once the water has cooled again, the bait will move out to the mouth. Incremental differences are important, as just a one degree either way in the water temperature can make all the difference.
If you’ve already done a bit of research into bass fishing in the winter months or even saltwater fishing tips, you might have read about the usefulness of spinner bits and jigs. Both are of equal use, as they are both very similar in terms of their design. You will also employ similar techniques when using them.
However, the main difference resides in the attaching wire and spinner blade. As a hybrid innovation, the Punisher Head Spinner is like a combination of the pair and comes with a paint job that is resistant to chip, as well as a Shampoo ball-bearing swivel which allows the blade to spin without any kind of hassle at whichever retrieve speed you need. The Head Spinner, backed as it is with a sharp hook, is good for hooking and holding bass fish which bite.
I use the Head Spinner for angling over deep cover - for example, brush piles. I also use it for angling around standing cover, such as along weed edges and bridge pilings, and I combine it with any number of soft plastics. Alternatively, you can rig it a skirt.
It’s really all about innovation during the winter. You need to think outside the box with how you use your jig to get the best out of your sessions. I combine my Punisher Head Spinner with the Super Fluke as a trailer, and pitch to the wooden cover. Then, I let it fall while I uphold a tight line as it springs off the limbs. Line movement will be subtle, so keep an eye out for it and be ready to set your hook.
As the weather gets even colder, the bass fish begin to feed with aggression. They are able to sense when winter is closing in, and as such their metabolism slows down. To prepare, they feed voraciously on bigger baits. For this reason, you should toss a soft-plastic swim bait, concentrating in the four to ten foot range near the docks.
Final Tips, Tricks and Hacks
No matter what we do in life, whether we’re trying to improve our productivity, master a to-do list or learn how to fish for bass, there are hacks that enhance our experience and bring us closer to our goals much quicker.
I’m going to end this with some final tips, tricks and hacks that will make you wonder how you would ever catch any decent fish at all if you didn’t employ them. They’re simple but so effective.
How To Stop Rod Ends From Sticking Together?
You might have already noticed that lots of fishing rods can be divided into two or even three pieces. This makes them easier to transport and store.
But the problem is that these rod ends, which are actually called ferrules, sometimes tangle like hair. And when this happens, breaking down your rod suddenly becomes very tricky indeed.
To make sure this doesn’t happen at all, you need to grab a beeswax candle and apply a thin layer of melted wax on the male ferrule. Doing so means the two - or three end - will slide apart with ease when you come to use them.
I always use beeswax candle because its melted wax works perfectly each time, but you can also use snowboard or ski wax. It’s up to you.
How To Cut Braided Line With Ease?
It’s almost scary to think how many scissors and line clippers have been irreparably damaged by anglers using them to cut through braided fishing line. Basically, you’re not supposed to do it with scissors or line clippers. You’ll damage your tools, and they won’t work anyway.
It depends where you live, but if you can get hold of a magnet milk bag snipper like the one we have in Canadian grocery stores, you’re onto a winner. Their blades are tailor-made for slicing through the line without any issues at all.
Alternatively, you could use a plastic mail opener. It works just as effectively.
How To Hold Onto Fish Guts?
The amount of times we got our fish the day after garbage day is kinda funny. For almost a week, we’re left with fish guts in our garbage!
To store offal without any disgusting smells or insects drifting around your property, you should place the guts inside a pair of grocery bags (plastic) before tying tightly.
Then, stash them away in your freezer until garbage day. Works every time.
(but make sure you tell your wife so that she isn’t surprised when she goes to get the chicken out of the freezer!!)
How To Eliminate Odour From Your Skin After Handling Fish?
One of the most off-putting things about fishing in general is the quite frankly hideous smell that lingers on your hands at the end of the day. Often, it seems as though no matter how much you wash your hands, and no matter how many bars of soap you get through, you cannot eradicate that nasty, pungent smell.
It’s like that episode of Seinfeld where Jerry can’t sell his car for love nor money because of a revolting smell that just won’t go away.
Unfortunately, handling fish is part and parcel of fishing. But thankfully, there is a great way of eliminating that fishy smell.
All you need to do is wash your hands with soap and water before running your wet hands across stainless steel. This can come in the form of any type of cutlery, a steel bowl, or even the kitchen sink.
Unbelievably, combining water with stainless steel catalyses a chemical reaction which removes odour.
How To Prevent A New Line From Tangling?
When you start bass fishing, you will need to spool fresh new line on your fishing reel. As usually happens, it will take a while for this new line to form a memory. In the meantime, it will spill off your reel frequently if you’re not careful. Not cool.
Ideally, you want a new line to assimilate to its reel as quickly as possible. Otherwise, you’re just losing time.
To this end, you should switch on a hot water tap and run your newly spooled reel under it for about a minute. It’s pure science - the heat encourages your new line to form a “memory” of your fishing reel as soon as possible.
This will stop twists and tangles.
More than anything, I always think it’s important that we enjoy our fishing pursuits, even when we’re competing in a tournament.
Fishing by nature is meant to be a healthy, wholesome experience that offers rewards to everyone who partakes. It is my hope that this guide has gone some way to preparing you for your first trip, while ironing out any problems that might have otherwise hindered your enjoyment.
If you consider to go fishing overnight, you may consider to choose a best tent for your convenience.