Black Bass Fishing

Largemouth Bass will seldom be found deeper than 15 feet or more. For most of the year, they will be in 3 -10 feet of water, around lily pads, partially submerged trees, stumps, and especially, dense weed beds. LG Bass are especially fond of Hydrilla beds. They can also be found near ripraps, submerged rock piles, trash piles, channels and old river beds, anywhere there is cover. In winter, Largemouths will go deeper in search of warmer water.

Since Largemouths are almost always in some type of cover, stout rods and reels, and heavy lines are necessary to haul them from their hides. The minimum set-up would be for med-heavy  rod, and a heavy spinning, spincast, or even better, a baitcasting reel. You need a reel with strong gears and bearings to physically stop a Bass from running back into cover and wrapping your line around obstacles. There are many ways to fish for Largemouth Bass, including fly fishing.

Baitfishing for LG Bass is pretty straight-forward. You need a Med to Heavy rod, at least 10 lb. line and a suitable reel. I use a Grouper rig. Thread a slip sinker onto your line, and then tie on a swivel. Make an 8 to 10 leader under the swivel and tie a #1 or larger Aberdeen or baitholder hook to the bottom. This rig can be used on the bottom, tightline, or with a bobber. Suitable baits include robust minnows, crawfish, nightcrawlers, live shad or other baitfish, leeches, mice, salamanders, lizards, snakes and frogs. LG Bass are especially fond of frogs and crayfish. Cast your bait to a likely spot, and hang on. If there is a Bass nearby, it won’t take long for it to hit. When it does, it will be sudden and violent. You must set the hook fast and hard, and then retrieve line quickly to stop the Bass from running back to cover. It will usually show it’s displeasure by making several explosive leaps from the water, and then it will slug it out near the bottom. LG Bass are experts at getting off a hook, so don’t count this fish out until it is in the live-well. They don’t just get off the hook. They will throw it back at you with considerable force. When you reach in to grab the fish, it will oftentimes try to impale your hand on the hook in its mouth. It’s little wonder that mature LG Bass have few natural enemies. This is one tough fish!

One of the most successful methods for LG Bass is fishing with a plastic worm, or critter. You rig the lure weedless, either Texas-Style, with the hook imbedded in the worm body, or Carolina-Style, with a weed guard. Then the worm/critter is tossed directly into cover and retrieved sloooooooooooowly. If you see the line move, or feel a peck, set the hook just a shade faster than instantly, and hard! Then begin powering the bass in. This is where you need a heavy action rod and baitcasting reel with good gears. You have to physically drag the Bass from its cover before it can wrap your line around obstacles. The best color for me has always been shades of purple, but plastic baits come in all shades of the rainbow. The next method is jigging, or flipping. For this, special longer rods are available. You simply drop, or toss your jig into cover and jig it up and down a few times. When a bass explodes onto it, you drag it into the boat, and then rest for a minute until your heart slows back down. Many jigs are made especially for this, such as the Arkie jig. Spoons can also be used in this manner. It is common to tip a jig with specially colored pork rinds, called a Jig & Pig rig. They are especially effective in the South.

Another popular method is using spinner-baits. This is a jig with a safety-pin looking wire on it, to which a spinner blade or propeller (called a buzz-bait) is attached. These are also often tipped with pork-skins. The usually method is to cast beyond the cover and reel the lure past it, to where the spinner or propeller just disturbs the surface. Strikes will be sudden and explosive. This method also works with French and In Line spinners like Mepps and Panther-Martins. Spinner-Baits are made by most lure companies like Strike King, Tom Mann, Heddon, etc.

Next is top-water fishing with floating lures made to represent injured minnows, frogs, mice, and some things that probably never existed except in nightmares. They go by names like the Chugger, Billy Bass, Hula Popper, Crazy Crawler, Jitterbug, Tiny Torpedo, Devils Horse, and so on. They look different, but they are all fished the same. You cast them near cover, let them set for a bit, then twitch them by lightly jerking your rod tip while retrieving loose line. Stop and let them rest periodically during the retrieve phase. More often than not, bass will strike when the lure is stationary. These strikes are incredibly violent, spraying water for 15%u2019 or more, and the bass will often come completely out of the water and go airborne. There are many sub-surface lures that are effective. They swim with a side-to-side action that attracts strikes from great distances. Known as crankbaits, many of them resemble pregnant perch, or crawfish. Some of the more popular ones are the Big, Bagley%u2019s Big %u2018B%u2019, Hellbender, Lazy Ike, Rapalas, Rattle-Traps and the Bayou Boogie. These lures are effective when bass are in deeper structure along shoals, channels and drop-offs. They are trolled, or cast and retrieved with a straight reel-in. Strikes are usually very hard and pronounced. Spoons, such as Daredevils, Kastmasters and Johnson Silver Minnows are often fished this way as
well.

Lastly, LG Bass on a fly rod are in the Big-Game category. You need a 6 to 8 wt. fly rod, a reel with a disc drag, a weight-forward, or Bass Bug Taper line, and patience, because it takes a while to bring in a LG Bass with fly gear. You can’t power them in, like with a conventional rod and reel. Once a bass is hooked, it becomes a chess game, with each opponent trying to anticipate the others next move. Float Tubes are very handy for challenging LG Bass on their own turf. The flies are big, ugly and effective. Casting technique or delicacy is not a requirement. You can do it pretty, noisy, or ugly. Whatever gets the fly on the water close to cover will work. When you hook one, take your time playing it in. Even a moderate sized LG Bass can wreck havoc on fly gear, especially tippets. You’ll want to bring plenty of extras. LG Bass have mild-tasting, flaky meat, and are excellent table-fare. They are very plentiful, so you needn’t feel guilty about bringing home your limit for supper.
Happy Fishing!

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Dan Eggertsen is a fellow bass fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on bass fishing since 2004.

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