While this aggressive, easily baited fish makes it easy to enjoy a successful day on the water, landing them requires an understanding of their habits and environment, which is why I’ve put together a guide on what you need to know when bass fishing!
Where to Find Bass
Bass, being freshwater fish, can be found in ponds, lakes, streams, and rivers. Although the species can be found almost anywhere in a body of water, they are most commonly found under cover, such as large rocks, vegetation, fallen trees, piers, or docks. Both largemouth bass and smallmouth bass like to take it easy and are in their element in warm, calm water, where they can strike their prey from cover, though they can easily adapt to other environments. Some bass use deep water as covers, though they will leave their deep water homes in favor of warm, shallow water during the spawning season.
How the Season and Weather Will Affect Your Fishing
As I mentioned, bass will change their habits depending on the season. Spawning season drives bass to seek out shallow, flat areas that are easily heated by the sun so that they can reproduce. Bass clear out algae and other obstructions to create a circular “bed” for their spawn. If you are looking to land bass during the spawning season, keep an eye out for bright, circular areas. Keep in mind that bass will change their habits depending on the stage of spawn that they are in, though we’ll go into more detail about this later.
Weather also plays a huge role in the habits of the bass. Windy or rainy days are generally great days to get on the water. The choppy surface this weather creates offers you a perfect cover to conceal yourself from the fish. It also stirs up the water itself, causing all of the prey that bass will naturally target to become active and the bass to seek out meals (and your bait) more readily.
Colder days mean that the fish will expect their prey to be moving slower through the water, while hotter days will have the bass expecting prey to move quickly. Chances are that if it’s hot out, the bass will be hiding in a cool, shaded area.
I’ll touch on your bait and bait presentation in greater detail, but it is worth mentioning that on cooler days, you should use slow-moving bait, coupled with slower reeling, and conversely, on hotter days, use fast-moving bait and reel in faster. By doing this, you mimic the bass’ prey’s movements in a more natural, realistic way and will be more likely to attract them.
The Temperment of Bass
One of the exhilarating things about bass fishing is how inconsistent their temperament is. While they have natural traits that characterize them, the way that they interact with bait (and the type of bait) will change from season to season, day to day, and bait to bait. Understanding the character traits and habitual nature of the animal will help you in achieving success when seeking them out. Remember, the characteristics that an animal displays will lead to repeated activities or behavior – something that can be predicted and exploited.
Research On Bass Behavior
A recent study conducted by the INHS’ (Illinois Natural History Survey) Sam Parr Biological Station observed two kinds of bass.
The first was an exploratory bass, which did not stick within one area and was far less discriminant about the food it ate.
The second was non-exploratory bass, which was less likely to leave a known area and more likely to eat food associated with the prey type of the area. This suggests that mimicking the kind of prey that is in an area where non-exploratory bass (ponds, farms, etc) are found will reap higher rewards. In the same way, exploratory bass will be less discriminant about the type of food or bait they are presented with.
Consult The Locals
For this reason, I recommend that you speak to the locals where you are fishing or hire a guide so that you know what bait attracts the bass in that area. This said bass are predaceous and in general, opportunistic ambush hunters. This means that while they will have favored food types, they will eat practically anything edible that comes across their path. If you can mimic something like a minnow moving with the current, past a bass’ hiding spot, you are sure to get a nibble at the very least.
Are Bass Territorial?
A commonly asked question is whether bass are territorial. While all anglers agree that bass are territorial during the spawning season, it is a matter of debate whether the species is territorial for the other part of the year. The aforementioned study does give us some indication as to the varied types of bass, though it would require deeper research to uncover whether a bass is territorial or whether the fish will simply consume “passing prey”.
Gear, Rig, and Bait
Bass have exceptional sight and hearing and can detect vibrations in, on, and around the water they inhabit. For this reason, it is important to ensure that you dress in drab clothing that will not be detected by the fish.
The right rig will depend on where and when you are fishing, as well as your preferred style of fishing. Because of this, I’ve put together a list of my Top 7 Best Rod and Reel Combos For Bass Fishing.
The bait that you use to fish for bass will differ depending on the season, the weather, and the type of body that you are fishing. That said, not all anglers, particularly not those that are new to the sport, will readily purchase an array of bait and lures to experiment with until they find one (or a few) that work for them. Karl’s Bait and Tackle have created an awesome guide to lures that work year-round here.
I hope that I’ve gotten you excited about your next trip and given you enough information to make it a successful one! If you have any questions or feedback for me, let me know by commenting or reaching out to me directly! Until next time, happy angling!