Bass are large, muscular fish that are predators in their own right. They're also irritable, volatile and strong, making them a challenge to hook and reel. If you’re trying to catch the big one, you’ll need to consider the season, hatch, weather and bass behavior to increase your chances of reeling in a prize bass. Use these bass fishing tips and techniques to improve your odds of catching one of these feisty fish.
1. Mind the Season
Bass are aggressive hunters, and when they see their prey, they stop at nothing to get it. Their aggressiveness and muscularity are part of what makes them so much fun to fish.
If you're fishing for bass in the spring, you'll find most of them hanging out in the shallows or in covered areas where they lay and protect their eggs. At any other time of the year, shallow waters make them uneasy. Bass usually want to hunt from cover, yet they typically like to have some depth to maneuver during their hunt.
There are three different phases in a bass' life cycle: pre-spawn, spawn and post-spawn. Pre-spawn occurs in early spring when bass feed steadily to prepare for 10 to 14 days of spawning.
After the spawning ritual, bass females are exhausted and leave the male bass to guard the fry. They head to deep, dark, cool waters to rest and that's where you can find them.
Whether you use wet or, dry flies depends on if you're going after male or female bass during the post-spawn period. Males will hit dry flies close to the surface because they are guarding the fry. You will need a wet fly to get to the deeper-dwelling female bass.
2. Note the Hatch
If it's early in the season, bass are going after crawfish, so opt for lures that have peach tones and patterns, like a crawfish's shell. In summer and early fall, bass are feeding on shad, so choose lures that are sleek and silver like the bait.
When fishing in the colder months of early spring, make sure your rain gear is high-quality and weatherproof so you can concentrate on fishing instead of the elements.
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3. Know Bass Behavior
Bass feed for small portions of the day, so timing is another crucial element of successful bass hunting.
As with any successful predator, bass are wary of danger, yet easy to aggravate. If you annoy them enough with the right kind of lure, or if you find a female guarding her eggs in a spawning bed, they might snap up your bait.
Bass hunt close to covered areas, like shadows cast by rocks, docks or lily pads. When bass hunt, they remain motionless next to cover and wait for their unsuspecting quarry. When the unlucky prey is close enough, the bass will quickly snag it, or if it's a little further away, bass will inhale a massive gulp of water along with its catch.
When you're angling for bass, be aware of the mouthing feeling of water flowing into a bass' mouth. If you time it right, you can set the hook right then.
4. Lure Tips
Mimic the prey and the prey's movement when you're casting for bass. Spoon and crankbait are two lures that work well when bass are feeding on shad. If you're casting in cloudy or muddy water, use a noisy crankbait to stir up vibrations in the water and tempt the bass closer. You'll get more strikes using vibrations to entice the fish.
Some soft, plastic lures mimic other prey that bass like to eat, like frogs. There are even soft lures that are weedless, which makes it a lot easier to fish for bass in dense vegetation.
5. Bass are Weather-Sensitive
Bass are very sensitive to any changes in their environment or the barometric pressure. They are much more active on cloudy days, and you may even catch them out in the open with a topwater plug or spinnerbait.
On sunny days, they hold tight to a shaded nook and wait for their prey to come to them. To hook a bass on a bright day, opt for a lure, like a jig, that bounces along the bottom. On sunny days, bass are lazy and like to stay hidden, so you may not get as many strikes.
The best time to fish for bass is right before a storm when the barometric pressure makes the fish more active. Watch for fronts moving in or a bank of clouds floating toward your boat.
6. Cast into the Wind
When you're fishing for bass, always cast into the wind. You'll lose some range with your cast, but since bass usually swim with the current, they will encounter your lure before they sense your boat. Additionally, the vibrations of small waves and ripples hitting the hull won't scare the bass off if you're casting into the wind.
When it's blowing, the wind on the water riles up the bass. The fish have less visibility, and all the movement on the surface of the water disguises your boat. When it starts to blow hard, keep casting.
Make sure you have the right men's fishing apparel so sudden weather changes don’t take you by surprise. Usually, when the wind picks up, the pressure changes or a front moves in, bass will become very active and strike a lot more than on calmer days.
To make your fishing trip a successful one, consider the season, their behavior and the weather. The more prepared you are to face the elements, the more persistent you can be in search of the bass.
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