Three Secrets to Ultimate Bass Fishing

The biggest trick to catching bass is learning to read the water, and use suitable tactics for the prevailing conditions. Each lake is different, and each lake can be different on different days. There are two main conditions to consider when figuring out a plan of action: clear water, and stained water. Fish behave differently in each of these situations.

Some waters are very fertile, with lots of suspended nutrients, vegetation, and plankton, which is why the fishing is so good there. The biggest problem most fisherman encounter when fishing a body of water for the first time is purely mental. Coming from other areas, they look at the pea-soup water color and get the impression that the water is fish-less. They are missing out on some great action. Stained water can actually work in your favor, especially when bass are in the shallows, and are staying close to cover. They feel less exposed, so they tend to be a bit bolder. Many times, you can cast several times to the same area to tempt a big bruiser from her hide-out, without spooking her. Color selection is easy, as well, because you don’t need dark colors. You want brighter colors to increase visibility.

Nothing works better at finding dark water bass than a noisy crankbait. You need three basic colors; a chrome pattern, a shad pattern and a chartreuse pattern. Remember to keep the lure as close to cover as you can, and make several casts to the same spot. Reel them through, or along the side of grass beds, lily pads, stickups and boat docks. Bouncing your lure off cover is very effective, as it can trigger an apathetic bass to strike. Use 20-pound test around hang-ups. Bass in stained water are not line-shy at all.

In the spring, spinnerbaits can be deadly. Fish around pads, grass points, boat docks and along channel ledges, keeping your lure as close to the cover as possible. Use heavy tackle, because Florida bass run big, and mean. The most important thing to remember when fishing stained lakes is to slow down, and fish everything at least twice. The standard colors of white, yellow and chartreuse are good bets. On overcast days, try black. The dark silhouette against the sky may make it easier for a bass to target the lure from below. This situation is the exception to the rule. Both gold and silver blades catch bass, but you may need to experiment to find out what they want on any given day.

When bass are in heavy cover, flipping and pitching is very effective. This is also your best way to target the real Hawgs. Any soft plastic bait can be used to flip into cover. The most popular colors are; purple with green flake (Junebug), black with a blue tail and red shad. Some days the fish want big lures, and heavy weights, and other days they want a 4″ worm and a light weight. It is best to peg your weight to the worm or use a screw-in Florida weight for this type of fishing. Use 20-30 pound test and heavy tackle, because you want to fish this rig directly in heavy cover. A Texas Rig is essential.

Clear water requires a different approach than fishing in a heavily stained lake. Bass in clear water rely more on sight to find food, and this means great top-water action. The most popular top-water baits are the Devil’s Horse, the Rapala Minnow, the Pop-R and the many variations on these great baits. It is best to work them slightly faster in warm water, and a bit slower in cool. Generally, bass caught on a top water lure will be larger than those caught using other techniques (but there are always exceptions). The trick is to get the lure as close to cover as possible, which means accurate casting. It might be a good idea to get some back-yard practice in before fishing top-waters in heavy cover. The best action is in the warmer months, early and late in the day. It’s been my experience that color doesn’t matter that much in a top water lure, so use any color you have confidence in. Bass seem to react to the silhouette, and noise, rather than color when attacking surface targets.

The wacky worm is a clear water technique so deadly that it almost feels like cheating. And the weird thing is that it has only works for me in Florida. In TN., and Ga., I cannot even get a bass to look at it. If you’ve never heard of this before, the wacky rig is a 4″ Culprit, or Creme plastic straight-tailed worm, fished on a 6-8 pound spinning outfit, with only a swivel above the bait for weight. The worm is hooked only once, through the center, leaving both ends dangling from the hook. You work it through the water slowly in gentle, short jerks, which makes the ends of the worm flutter enticingly. I said it doesn’t work for me in other states, but what I meant was that it doesn’t work on bass in other states (for me, anyway). I use this technique with Trout Worms to catch huge Rainbow and Brown Trout on the Hiawassee River. The best time for this technique is spring but it works all-year, to varying degrees. Cast the light worm along the sides of lily pads or next to steep canal banks and let it fall slowly under its own weight. Hits will generally be light, or your worm will just start to move off slowly. Sometimes this technique will catch fish when nothing else works. These are by no means the only way to catch bass, but they are good places to start. 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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