Most, if not all of the so-called ‘insider’ secrets, tips and stories to tell of big hauls of Bass, all revolve, around a very simple basic rule – understanding the fish, (their life-cycles, feeding preferences, habits and patterns, habit and menu of choice, their nature, their relationship with the broader eco-system and position on the food-chain, timing it right. Also heeding your surroundings, your equipment (tools), having to know how and basics under your belt and finally optimizing (every!) opportunity…
In effect, you are going about, creating the most favorable angling process and outcome you can muster!
Bass fishing is a passion, a science and an art form upon itself. It appeals to young and old, attracts anglers from all walks of life and both sides of the professional and amateur spectrum.
One key to bass fishing is what we can easily refer to as, ‘predictable behavior’. Habits, patterns, life cycles, the natural rhythm that is life and nature – also applies to fish. This means that Bass exist within this natural reality. If you can capitalize on understanding it better, you will increase your chances of successful hooks/bites.
Seeking protective cover, foraging amongst rocks, stumps, weeds, at times on the prowl hunting for prey, other times just ‘lunching’ around casually, all seem to be part of The Bass feeding rituals and repertoire. Taking advantage and considering this when starting out and every time casting will benefit you greatly.
Another is “competitive advantage”, The Bass has an “airtight sac” (breathing bladder), that is inflatable, which enables it to swim and thrive at different levels. A powerful tail helps with speed, agility and maneuverability. It can reach great depths.
Other factors like water clarity, time of day, subdued sunlight, water displacement and vibration sensing, noise sensitivity, all add to this fish’ cunning and ensuring that you scrutinize these clues, will increase your odds of hooking your next big one.
Unlocking for example how The Bass senses and prefers color and shade in the moment, can always also help anglers increase their effectiveness. The choice and type of lure, colors and movement, bait etc. can all contribute meaningfully to your attempts.
Where the fish are… everyone will have an answer or at least their opinion/experience on what/where/when, even science. Nevertheless, sometimes it is as simple as understanding the habitat and those that live and thrive in it, to better interact with and enjoy fishing in it – a type of exploring the depths, so to speak. For example: the temperature of the water and available oxygen, dictate moving patterns and disbursement of fish species. Feeding habits and preferences are distinct, falling more on the “looking alive” or live bait. Some quote smallmouth bass, as showing preference for crawfish and using that as a ‘sign’ of where these critters will be found, on the hunt for their favorite snack! Looking at stomach content of fish you have caught and kept (not part of the catch and release protocol/requirements), hold hidden clues about food of preference –whitefish, crawfish and others.
Having self-confidence, aptitude AND the right attitude when fishing for Bass is crucial. In this battle to outwit your opponent, you will need every tool and trick at your disposal to make a successful catch. Never get discouraged, feel beaten or worse quit for the yield has been slim to none at all – those days happen to every angler. Nature beats to its own drum, you have to discover and enjoy the rhythm you are so intricately part of.
Practice makes perfect – there is no silver bullet, quick-fish method for $9.99, that can guarantee you bites and more bass all the time, anytime. It DOES take hard work and commitment, persistence and rigor from the angler. There is more than a routine at stake and play here. Some days will be predictably better than others. No matter what the conditions, process and outcome, on the day, put it all down to experience and lessons learned. Log and learn, share and grow, in your own understanding, confidence and toolkit, as an avid bass angler.
Another key trick is actually NO TRICK AT ALL – we call it an “acquired skill”. It takes more of that hard work we mentioned before! Exact, fixed casting, requires target-precision practice, improving your ability to place the lure exactly where you would want it to be – let us call it ‘hitting the mark’. This is another crucial tactic and technique you can practice in the park or your living room – try using plugs and get better every time at consistently hitting your ‘target’ (and nothing else we hope!).
Becoming and being a proactive participant in the context and environment (and process), you are in, knowing when to move on, change something and or quit for the time-being (postponing the hunt or resting when required, planning your strategy for the next trip out), is what it is all about as well!
Habitual creatures of comfort, The Bass (as a species), are not so much different than modern man. Bearing this in mind will help you too as an angler. We like what we like, when and how we like it and normally want it on time, when it is there and ready, be safe, enjoy life and we crave comfort – food, shelter and well-being! Does this sound a lot different from our own needs and requirements? Not really! Well, that is one way of leveling the playing field. Understanding the basic necessities and niceties for these watery “creatures”, holds clues and advantage, for any and every angler.
Stimulus, pattern, routine, habit – predictors and hints – the ace up your sleeve when nothing else works! Learn and develop skills, to ‘read’ (quickly at a glance, observe and make a judgment), know instinctively what will come happen, next and why – figure out the pattern, stick with it and exploit it to your advantage and angling success. Meet the Bass where they are, in what they do, cater to their needs and you will be surprised at what meets you in the waters below!
Familiarity with the Bass’ favorite places to hang around is critical to success: Bottoms, stumps, trees , logs, weeds and plants, contours, structures, travel-routes, creeks, shallows/deeper passages, coves, channels, bluffs, banks and shorelines – all can be repetitive clues on habitual, predictable behavior of the bass. Most of the ‘experts’ came about their knowledge through reading, studying habits of their catch, in very similar fashion than what you are undertaking. Every time you get to know your fishy friends a little better, until you know instinctively where they will be and where their favorite spots are. Knowing and going where the fish are becomes demystified, but even more exciting, for it is now more than a hunch or random chance – it is a planned encounter where the watery predator, hunter par excellence, becomes the hunted!