What is so appealing about largemouth bass fishing that it can put a smile on your face like the one on my Bass Bum® buddy, Mitch, at right? The sheer number of freshwater fishing lures they will strike due to their natural aggressiveness? The many different types of largemouth bass habitat where they can be found? The many tactics and presentations, both new and old, that can be utilized in our efforts to catch them? All of these things contribute to the appeal of our hunt for a trophy "bucketmouth".
Fishing for largemouth bass is no less a hunt than is hunting deer, elk, bear or any "above water" wild game. It could be argued that hunting for and finding bass, then deciding what lure or lures to fish and how to "present" them so as to entice a strike, involves far more variables than hunting land game. Research and preparation done prior to embarking on a largemouth bass fishing trip will increase your odds of success.
First, you must find them.
The first group of factors listed above pertain primarily to research and preparation done prior to your first cast. They are discussed on a broader basis in other sections of this site. Here, we'll discuss their application specifically to "old bucketmouth", also known as the large mouth bass, big mouth bass or more correctly, the largemouth bass.
Research, Preparation And Largemouth Bass Fishing
The preceding are many, though not all, of the factors that influence your success as a bass fisherman on any given day. An assessment of each of these prior to and when fishing is prudent. Disregarding them entirely when largemouth bass fishing will not serve you well in your quest to catch them. It's all about preparation. Two quotes from men well considered to be "successful" in life attest to the value of preparation.
"If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend the first hour sharpening the ax."
"Before everything else, getting ready is the secret to success."
Many say it's better to be lucky than good. I feel that better than lucky is being prepared, as preparation breeds luck.
Identifying The Personality Of Lake, River Or Stream Where You Fish
"Well she's got personality, walks with personality, talks with personality....". Some of you old guys out there will remember that song. Everybody has a personality, some good, some bad. Lakes, ponds and rivers do too!
While a largemouth bass is a largemouth bass no matter where you find it, the water in which it is found is often quite different and presents a different set of largemouth bass facts that determine how you fish for them. You might say each has it's own personality.
There are impoundments like the TVA reservoirs found in the South, mainly "highland" reservoirs. There are wide primary rivers that present mile after mile of shoreline and the bonus of current and natural lakes that are dominated by shallow water compared to many large impoundments. Don't overlook small waters like ponds for largemouth bass fishing. Each year more "big bass" are caught in small ponds and lakes than all other bodies of water.
The personality of a water body is determined in large park on two dominant habitat features that draw largemouth bass, structure and cover. These include structure features like bottom composition, rocky outcroppings and change in depth. Included also are vegetation, timber, stumps, laydowns, docks, bridges, and brush.
Water level fluctuation, current speed, frequency and duration and clarity also define personality and the influence it has on largemouth bass location.
Learn a body of water's personality and you will be able to more quickly determine the location of the bass in it. What's this mean? More time fishing, less time "huntin for em".
Water Bodies and Largemouth Bass
Each type water body listed below has its own personality reflected by the influences its make up of cover, structure, water depth, water clarity and oxygen saturation levels have on resident bass. When largemouth bass fishing, a knowledge of the characteristics of the type in which you will fish increases your likelihood of success catching a big mouth bass.
At the risk of boring you, but in the interest of providing you additional information that can help you determine the personality of the waters you fish and thus, have a better understanding of how to catch largemouth bass, be better able to determine where you to find largemouth bass, I present the following.
What Makes A Largemouth Bass Want To Hang Out In Any Particular Location?
Structure and cover are to big mouth bass what lying is to big mouth politicians. You may find cover or structure without any resident largemouth bass but you will rarely find bass that are not hanging close to them. They're cover oriented from birth and cover and/or structure provide them the concealment and security from predators they need. However, a house without water and electricity does not a comfortable home make. Same with bass. If it's too cold, too hot and/or there isn't enough dissolved oxygen present they will look elsewhere, no matter the quality of the cover or structure.
Of equal importance when largemouth bass fishing is the presence of forage. If you're home, warm, in your favorite chair with a great football game on TV but you're hungry what do you do? Go find something to eat. Same with largemouth bass.
Understand when largemouth bass fishing that bass don't stay in one place all the time. The changes of the seasons and the need for food trigger migration and temporary relocation. They'll move shallow to deep and visa versa in order to locate conditions suitable for spawning, fatten up on baitfish in open water or the back of creeks in fall or to deeper water where there is more oxygen in summer.
However, tracking studies have clearly demonstrated that
largemouth bass are very much "homebodies". Unlike smallmouth bass, they
will not "usually" move away from their original
spawning grounds and home refuge by more than 300-500 yards. Migration
during warm water periods can occur several times a day, in early
morning hours, at mid-day and again in early evening. These movements
are usually from deep to shallow water and can last as little as a few
minutes to as much as a couple of hours. When cold water arrives,
migrations will happen though no more than once, maybe twice a day,
lasting no more than 15-30 minutes. Such movements must be kept in mind
when largemouth bass fishing.
So the key (though not the only) influences that affect largemouth bass location are....
Find Some Good Fishing Lake Maps
So what features found in a lake, river or pond, that might hold bass, could you identify even before getting on the water? How can you do this? Easy, find a good lake map like Fishing Hot Spots maps. A good map of a bass fishing lake will clearly define shoreline irregular configurations like large tributaries and their many creek channels and secondary points. Additionally, offshore structure, flats, and humps will be shown.
The more irregularities you find on the map the more secondary points, coves and cuts there will be. This is where structure and cover live and where bass and baitfish hang out! Identifying, locating and fishing structure correctly is a key ingredient of successful bass fishing.
Make sure the maps you choose have well defined depth contour lines and if you use a GPS device grab one of the GPS fishing maps now available from Atlantic Mapping, Inc.
Seasonal and Weather Influences Must Be Considered
After finding structure, cover and other features which characterize a particular body of water as a possible largemouth bass lake, these features must be evaluated in relation to the dominant seasonal pattern and current weather conditions. What impact do the combination of these factors have on largemouth bass relative to their comfort zone and the presence of forage? Doing so will help you determine patterns to fish and can potentially increase your catch volume in a shorter period of time.
Spring largemouth bass fishing can be a time of plenty. Water begins to heat up, daylight lengthens and gives cues to largemouth bass to move to shallow water.
Summer's increased water temperature will drive many largemouth bass to deeper water where they can be found on offshore structure.
Fall largemouth bass fishing is almost as good, better in some ways, than that of spring. Largemouth will move back towards shallow water. Importantly, they are hungry and seeking to "pork up" for the long winter, unless they're in Florida or South Texas.
Winter bass fishing is for the die-hards. If your willing to tough it out you might surprise yourself. Annually some of the biggest bass caught, especially in the central states, are caught in winter.
Weather, stable or unstable, affects largemouth bass in ways not always predictable. So understanding fishing weather is to understand how barometric pressure, cold and warm fronts, rain, wind and even moon phases influence movement and feeding activity of largemouth bass. They should be taken into consideration when largemouth bass fishing.