Four fishing tactics for all bass anglers

Techniques for catching trophy bass will vary according to the season. Bass migrate like crappie, but to a much lesser extent. They seldom more more than 1/2 mile from their established territory. Bass are viciously territorial, and many time attack lures out of anger, rather than hunger. In late spring and summer, after the spawn, bass will move back and forth, along regular routes from their established ‘home’ area to ‘feeding’ areas. Their home area will be some sort of structure with a good water temperature, usually in 20-30 feet of water, such as submerged timber, rockpiles, etc….They will usually hang out here during the heat of the day and rest. In the early morning, evenings and at night, they will move along breaklines, channels or other structure lines to feeding grounds in 10-20 feet of water, along ridges, coves, weedbeds, or anyplace that has baitfish, or other food. This will seldom be more than 300 feet or so from their home area. They will hunt and feed in this area until they are sated, or the water starts to warm up. The feeding times vary with the weather. On overcast days, you can expect them to linger longer in the hunting grounds.Then they will move back along the same route they came in, back to their home area. Trophy bass can be ‘patterned’ just like deer. Also, many different bass will use the same routes at different times of the day. As the water cools down in fall, shad and other baitfish move into creek mouths and shallow coves seeking cooler water and more cover. Bass will follow them. Again, they will use breaklines, channels and lines of cover to move from home to the hunting grounds, and they will use the same route every time. Once in the feeding area, they will gorge themselves in prepartion for winter. This is one time that bass will suspend their territorial habits, with many fish feeding in the same area. It probably has something to do with an abundence of food in a concentrated area. They will feed for longer times before returning to their ‘home’. Early winter bass will tend to form schools as they continue to chase shad and baitfish, and put on weight. When the water approaches 50 degrees, they will re-loocate their homes to areas along major creeks, channels, points, secondary points, ridges and humps, near structure, in 30 feet of water..Their metabolism slows down and they will no longer move to hunting areas to forage. They will not move around much at all. Most anglers will be out deer hunting, so fishing pressure is much lighter. This is the time to fish jigs and jigging spoons. This can be some of the most productive fishing of the year. There are a few extra considerations about winter fishing that you need to be aware of. Hypothermia is a very real danger and can strike without warning. It doesn’t even have to be that cold. People have suffered from ‘exposure’ in as warm a weather as 55 degrees. The best way to prepare for cold weather fishing is to eat right. Foods that have fat will allow you to generate more body heat. Also, drink plenty of water, around a gallon a day is about right. Wear a hat, because as much as 60% of your body heat can be lost through your head. Dress in layers so you can adjust as needed. Have a cell phone handy for emergencies, and be sure to let someone know where you will be, in case you don’t come home on time. In early spring, as the water warms above 50 degrees, bass will return to their warm water ‘homes’. At this time of year, they are preparing for the spawn, and will establish ‘holding’ areas off of suitable nesting sites. They will not necesarily be following baitfish into the shallows, for at this time, crawfish are spawning, and have shed their shells to become the ‘softshell’ variety, and salamanders have also arrived to mate, and dine on fish eggs. Bass attact both the crawfish and salamanders (mudpuppies) with abandon. These imitations are your best bet in early spring. As the water warms to suitable spawning temperatures (65 degrees and up), males will build ‘beds in less than 5 feet of water, on flats with structure nearby. As the water warms to near 70 degrees, females come in, select a mate and spawn. Females them lay eggs and bug out for their homes, leaving the males to guard the nest. At this time, bass will attack anything that approaches the nest, regardless of size, color or movement.. If you find them, you will catch them. After the eggs hatch, the males will return to their spring and summer habits. By mapping bass seasonal patterns, you can catch big bass all year long. Happy Fishing

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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