Catching Largemouth bass is an exhilarating experience, and definitely worth the effort in catching them. Many anglers choose to fish for these fish because of the beauty they hold when mounted. They are resilient fish and are capable of surviving in many environments which is why they work so well for catch and release practices.
The largemouth bass is a North American native and a species of black bass from the sunfish family. Of the black basses, they are the largest with a tied record of 22-pounds being recorded by the International Game Fish Association. Bass use a variety of senses to detect and catch their prey. They are a predatory fish that will eat just about anything that is less than half it’s body size. The young prefer to stick with smaller bait fish, and insects. However, the elder fish prefer live bait fish, snails, crawfish, frogs, and even snakes and small water birds.
Bass will typically search out locations that provide them with plenty of cover. Particularly locations with fallen trees, grass, and brush piles. Because of this type of behavior anglers are all too familiar with snagged lines, and lost lures. This shouldn’t discourage a determined largemouth angler.
Largemouth bass are notoriously known for jumping from the water to loose the hook, and splashing back into the water creating a picturesque scene. Having the right baits, and knowing just where to look for bass can ensure that you too will get to experience this fascinating moment.
There are an endless supply of bait and jigs available to the angler for use when largemouth bass fishing. Choosing just one and saying it is the perfect bait is difficult, if not impossible. Jigs, rubber worms, spinner baits, and crank bait are among the top four choices that Bassmasters prefer to use. That isn’t to say that others don’t work, these are just the ones that are used most often.
Simply narrowing down the categories to just four types doesn’t do much justice in limiting the choices. Each one of these types of lures has their own set of possibilities of colors, sizes, and weights. What does help is knowing when to use each type, and which one to use at various locations. Even the color of the jig can play a major role in the catch. Lets go through the tips of each one individually.
The jig can be used year round, although spring and summer are best. It can be used in the winter months when the retrieve is slowed down dramatically, more so that you already would. The bass is deeper in the water, and slightly lethargic with the dropping water temperature. Since jigs are designed to mimic natural food sources, you should mimic their natural behavior.
When using a jig the flip and pitch method is the best type of retrieve to use versus normal casting. Because of their design, they are notorious for snagging, especially since fishing for bass is best done in areas that provide thick cover. When using the flip and pitch method the jig merely lands on the surface, or on a branch. This process lowers the chances of snags.
Despite being a predatory fish, largemouth bass is preyed themselves by overhead attacks from birds, and even other fish like the flathead catfish. Expect to find bass in areas where trees have fallen into the water, large root balls, marshy grass areas, and rock piles. Docks and piers provide bass the ultimate protection against aerial attacks, expect to find them there as well.
Jigs are designed with the largemouth bass in mind. Since a common prey of the fish is crawfish or crayfish the jig is designed to look like one crawling around on the water’s bottom. Some vary slightly in how detailed they are but to the bass they look close enough to the real thing that the fish are intrigued enough to take the bait.
Largemouth doesn’t just open wide and set the jig on their own. There is a process. In a way, you could say they like to taste test first. They will open their mouths and swallow the bait, then quickly spit it back out once they realize it isn’t the real thing. This action takes only a second to complete. If you are not holding the pole you may never know that the fish was there. Keep the line tight with your finger on the line. The motion is quick and it may go unnoticed to the untrained fisherman. Pay attention to how the line feels when retrieving. Once you have spotted the taste, quickly set the hook, and prepare for a show.
The color plays a large part in assisting with the catch. A largemouth bass’s vision can’t be compared to an eagle, but they do use their sense of sight among other senses to help catch their prey. Choosing the right color of jig to use based on various scenarios will alter the amount of fish that you catch.
When fishing on a sunny day in waters that are clean and clear use a common 3/8 ounce jig bait in a lighter color. On cloudy days choose a bright colored jig. In murky, dark, dirty waters stick with the natural blue/black color of a shad fish. These colors mimic what the bass would see, which in turn greatly increases the odds of catching more fish.
Cast molded plastic or rubber baits come in infinite shapes, sizes, and colors. There are possibly more choices for these little baits than any other type of lure on the market. Each one has its “best used for” fish. But for a largemouth bass, it is best to use a rubber lure that resembles a worm. These types of lures are not ideal when bass are highly active, or in the winter when they are deeper in the waters. That doesn’t mean don’t use them. When implemented properly they too can be used year round. Although ideal conditions are when the water temperatures are above 55 degrees.
When attempting to reel in a largemouth who has sunk to lower waters it is best to use a rubber worm between the sizes of 5 to 8-inches. During spawning season when the bass are huddled up under cover it is best to use a 6 or 7-inch thick worm, or a paddle tail. Don’t use a thin curly tail, it easily tangles and snags on thin branches.
If you have found a school of bass swimming in the waters near a vertical wall, position the boat next to it and drop a shaky head worm off the side. Lift the bait off the floor of the water approximately 8-inches then drop again.
When fishing for largemouth bass in shallow waters littered with stumps, it is best to rig the rubber worm on the hook Carolina or Texas style. Texas rigged straight tail worms work best with the flip and pitch method in grassy areas with thick mats. Attach a small weight to assist with penetration through the thick mass of grass.
As with many other types of lures, use the rubber worm with a slow retrieve. In murky waters, a choice of black, blue, or purple works the best. In waters that are clear use a bright colored worm with an action tail.
Crankbait is an efficient bait to use when testing the waters for signs of largemouth bass. Although the largemouth is abundant in most waters, they are not common enough to be found in all waters. Using a crank bait will allow you to test the waters for signs of life. They are the go to lure for many Bassmasters because of the efficiency and speed that they provide. They are excellent to use any time of the year. Using them correctly does require a particular presentation and the correct placement.
The crankbait is yet another bait that is available in many shapes, sizes, weights and running depth. However, be warned that the manufactured published running depth is not always accurate. As a general rule with crankbait, you can determine the running depth by looking at the bill length and angle. A shorter bill with a more acute angle will run with a shallower drive. As with a longer bill and slight downward angle the more depth the crankbait will obtain.
Since bass tends to lurk in tangled up messes, it is best to use any bait near locations that provide them with cover. Crank baits are no exception to the rule. Because of the expense of these baits, most anglers fear loosing them in the brush. Because of the design, they are more prone to snagging. This should not prevent you from using them in the proper environment when attempting to catch bass. There are versions of crank bait that are designed to be snag resistant.
The crankbait is meant to bounce and ricochet off of the objects that lay at the bottom of the lake or riverbed. Because of this, many anglers have an issue with quick deterioration when using a less expensive crankbaits. If you are going to use crankbaits plan to purchase a quality bait that is tried and true. It will save you money in the long run.
When the water is clear and temperatures are above 60 degrees choose a natural colored crank bait with a more pronounced wobble. In murky waters choose a white more visible option that holds a depth of 2 to 4-feet with a rattle and wobble. Don’t choose a crank bait with a rattle if you are fishing in clear waters.
Spinner baits are by far my absolute favorite type of lure to use. It is quite possibly the simple fact that I have caught more fish with a spinner bait than any other bait in my box. I have used, and tested all three of the other types, but the spinner bait far exceeds the others. They are quiet when in the water, which is more natural, especially in shallow water. These baits are a great option for year round use.
The design of these types of baits greatly assists in snag prevention. I am not sure if I have ever snagged a spinner bait before. This is probably because of their great design. They perform best with a slow stop and go retrieve, otherwise known as a yo-yo retrieve. Don’t get in a hurry when on the retrieve.
When fishing in clear water use a smaller lure weighing at 3/8ths of an ounce in the natural colors of shad and other bait fish. In the dark, dirtier colored water use a larger bait with bright or fluorescent color. In the spring months drop the weight size down to an 1/8th of an ounce.
In the winter months when the water temperatures are colder, use a larger bait, and slow down the retrieve even slower than you normally would. Wait for the bass to take the bait. You should feel a slight pause in the retrieve or a feeling of weightlessness. When this happens quickly set the hook and hold on.
Bait retrievers are a wonderful addition to your tackle box, especially if you are frequently going to use lures. These small devices slide down the fishing line and slam into the bait. The force of the hit generally knocks them free whatever obstructions that may be holding them down. They can be quite expensive, however, it is possible to create a home-made version out of simple materials.
The rod and reel combined with the proper line test will make a great difference in the performance of your lures from cast to catch. Many Bassmasters choose to use a Baitcaster combo, with a Spincaster coming in at a close second. A Shakespeare rod is a great choice if you are wanting to mix things up. Monofilament line with a test between 8 and 12 pounds is a common choice with many lures. A crankbait is better suited with a 12-20 pound test.