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All about fishing for bass

By Rick Seaman

Bass Fishing In A Bass Boat

Bass Fishing

Bass fishing

Fishing for bass is more challenging now, than ever in the past, due to two major factors. More anglers fish for bass today than at any time in the past. And, bass enthusiasts have become more knowledgeable about the species and methods for catching them. This combination puts extra pressure on bass fishing waters. On water that is heavily fished the two primary things you can do are to work slower and use smaller bait presentations.

Catching Big Bass Brings Big Smiles

Slowly Cover The water

Fish your way along the strike zone more slowly and make more, precise casts to targets and cover. Often multiple casts to the same spot can trigger a strike. Work the bait slower as well, don't be afraid to let a worm or jig 'soak' in one spot for a minute or two.

Fish With Smaller Lures

Using small plastic worms on light line often fools finicky bass. Downsize jigs as well and fish them on lighter line as well. Once you locate an area that is holding bass, catching them becomes the art of convincing them your presentation is edible. The tougher the fishing, the slower you should move the bait. Try downsizing crankbaits and spinnerbaits as well, again working them slower than usual.

Bass fishing basics video.

Three Major Tips For Better Bass Fishing

Understand How Bass Live

The more you know about bass the better your chances of catching them. Bass migrate around the lake in an annual cycle to stay close to their food supply and to reside in the best water conditions. In general, bass inhabit the shallows in Spring and Fall, then move to deeper water during the heat of summer and cold of winter. Additionally, bass make daily movements of shorter distances. Often bass move shallow to feed and hold in slightly deeper water the rest of the day.When summer warms the water bass may feed in the shallows early in the morning and again as dusk. During periods of cold water, bass may move up to the bank in the afternoon as the sun warms the shallow water.

Understand Your Local Bass Fishery

Every lake is a unique ecosystem and bass adapt to the conditions for survival. The more you know about the lake, the greater your odds of having success. Get a topographical map of the lake and learn how to identify logical locations for bass, based on the current season. Find out what food sources (baitfish, sunfish, crayfish, and etc) are in the lake, a good source is your game and fish department. Get current fishing reports, as well as prior year reports for the same time of the year. Try to identify whether the lake level is stable, rising or falling, as this could help you locate bass.

Know What Baits To Throw & Where to Throw Them

Lure manufacturers would like you to believe that the secret to catching bass is a specific lure. Truth is, bass are not all that picky. The important thing is to locate bass then use the most productive lure you can use to fish that specific water and cover.

Big bass caught by author Rick Seaman

Five Basic Lures For Catching Bass

Texas-rigged worm

Plastic Worms. The all-time, top producer for bass anglers of all skill levels. Deep, mid-range or shallow, bass love them. Rig them open hook, Texas style or on a drop shot rig.

Topwater Popper Lure For Bass

Topwater Lures. Buzzbaits, poppers, frogs, stickbaits and others all catch fish when the water is above 50 degrees, and the bass are hanging out in shallow water. Experiment to see which type gets more hits.

Single-arm spinnerbait

Spinnerbaits. Use spinnerbaits to fish in and around cover like brush, trees, grass and other vegetation.

Deep-diving crankbait

Crankbaits. Use crankbaits around shorelines that have little or no brush or vegetation.

Weedless jig

Jigs & Creature Baits. Fish these shallow or as deep as you find bass. When crawled slowly they represent crayfish, and when fished fast they can represent small fish.

Bass fishing for big bass

Bass Fishing For Big Bass

Largemouth bass caught by Dan Westfall

Bass are most easily caught during a feeding spree, but can be enticed into striking an anglers bait for reasons other than hunger. They are predatory by nature and at times will strike at anything that enters their world, particularly during the spawn. If it moves, and they can get it into their big mouth, they will most likely attempt to eat it. Visit the Bass Knowledge Center for insight on how bass live. The most popular bass species are largemouth and smallmouth. In certain areas of the country there are other species including spotted (or Kentucky), redeye and shoal bass. Click here to learn about the best bass fishing lures and when to use them.

Bass Fishing


Bass are the most sought after of all game fish. Its appeal spans cultures, age groups and genders to tap on the heart strings of anglers everywhere. These very aggressive feeders are agile enough to easily chase down and catch their favorite foods at will.

Largemouth Bass

Micropterus salmoides

Largemouth Bass

Prefers slightly stained to murky water with cover and minimal current, in depths from one foot to sixty feet. Ideal water temperature: 60° to 80°

World record: 22 pounds, 5 ounces

Fishing for largemouth bass

Also known as bucketmouth, this fish has a mouth that opens wide enough to swallow its own head. It will attempt to eat virtually anything it can catch and swallow. Growing to well over 20 pounds in ideal conditions, it is much bigger than it's cousin the smallmouth.

Largemouth Bass

Largemouth bass are the most abundant, and most pursued bass in the country. They are available in most warm-water lakes, they tend to thrive in most water conditions and grow to bragging size in relative short order. Often called big mouth bass, or wide mouth bass, they are savvy predators that feed on most things that live in their territory.

Finding & Catching Bigmouth Bass

A very wise bass fisherman once told me that when you find average bass, the big ones are shallower or deeper, but close by. Anglers can target big mouth bass in lakes, reservoirs, and rivers. Spring and early summer are typically the best seasons for targeting bigger largemouth bass as they are spawning, more active and feeding in the shallows near shoreline cover. Start with topwater baits, as they cover the water most efficiently. Reaction baits like crankbaits and spinnerbaits are the next choice. For finicky bass, plastic worms and jigs may entice a bite as you can move them very slowly around cover. In the heat of summer and the cold of winter bass move to deeper water, usually following the baitfish. Jigs, drop shot rigs and spoons are a good approach for bass holding in deep water. Vary your retrieve speed and action to find what the bass like today!

Learn how to fish for largemouths.

Smallmouth Bass

Micropterus dolomieu

Smallmouth Bass

Prefers rocky areas of clear to slightly stained water in depths from one foot to fifty feet, with or without current. Ideal water temperature: 58° to 72°

World record: 10 pounds, 14 ounces
Fishing for smallmouth bass

While the smallmouth only grows to about half the size of the largemouth, it is much more agile, faster and powerful for its size. It eats pretty much the same foods, just smaller specimens. It is without argument one of the finest game fish an angler can pursue. The thrill of the frantic runs and jumps are the source of many a fisherman's dreams.

Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth bass fishing is more prevelant in the northern states, but have been distributed in lakes all across the country. While smallmouth bass don't grow as large as their cousin the largemouth, they make up the difference with tenacious fights. Known for long battles and spectacular jumps, smallies grow fat and strong but rarely exceed ten pounds. Their range and locations are often with or nearby the largemouths.

Learn how to fish for smallmouths.

Spotted Bass

Micropterus punctulatus

Spotted Bass

Spots, or Kentucky bass, are easily identified by the dominant, spots along the lateral lines. Ideal water temperature: 70° to 78°

World record: 9 pounds, 8 ounces
Fishing for spotted bass

Spots are often called Kentucky, Kentucky spotted, Alabama spotted and Kentucky spots. They have a smaller mouth than the largemouth, so use lure sizes similar to smallmouth tackle. They feed on smaller fish as well as insects, crustaceans, frogs and worms.

Shoal Bass

Micropterus cataractae

Shoal Bass

Found primarily in the warm waters of FL, GA and AL. They populate lakes, rivers and streams. Ideal water temperature: 65° to 72°

World record: 7 pounds, 8 ounces
Fishing for shoal bass

Closely related to the spots, it is often misidentified as a redeye due to the red coloring in the eye. The coloring is brownish similar to smallmouth. Fish for them as you would for largemouth and, as the name implies, look for them to congregate on shoals and similar structure.

Redeye Bass

Micropterus coosae

Redeye Bass

Native to the Coosa River system of GA and AL, redeyes are often found in cool streams and rivers. Ideal water temperature: 65° to 70°

World record: 8 pounds, 12 ounces
Fishing for redeye bass

The redeye looks very much like a largemouth with a red eye and red coloration in the tail. Found in the southeast part of the US it can be caught with conventional bass tackle favoring smaller baits and lighter tackle.

Bass Fishing Book By Rick Seaman & Dan Westfall

Rick Seaman is a bass fishing enthusiast with over five decades of bass fishing experience, a retired bass tournament fisherman and co-author of the book "Bass Fishing. It's not WHAT you throw, It's WHERE you throw it" .


Bass information by state.

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