Gear & Tackle
Among serious fishermen, bass are by far the most sought-after gamefish in the country. More gear and tackle is available for this species than any other, catering to the myriad methods for finding and catching this explosive and powerful predator. Rod-and-reel combos range from light action spinning outfits for finesse presentations to heavy duty baitcasters designed to yank the biggest brutes through heavy cover. Line choices range from limp, castable 6# Trilene XL to extra tough 20# Trilene XT to no-stretch FireLine in up to 30# test weights. Depending on the body of water being fished, line considerations also include high and low visibility, diameter, stretch factor and more.
If there was one all-around bass outfit to be recommended, it would arguably be a medium heavy, 6^ to 7^ graphite rod with a fast action tip and plenty of backbone, combined with a rugged levelwind reel, in the class of the Ambassadeur 5500. Line choice would most likely be Trilene XT in 10# to 14# test.
Lures & Presentation
Plastics of every size, shape and color. Crankbaits that run shallow and deep and everywhere in-between. Rattlers. Buzzers. Spinners. Poppers. Chuggers. Wobblers. Baits that look like frogs, rats, birds, lizards, crawfish, even french fries. All are tucked into their own little spot in some of the largest tackle boxes known to mankind. And every one of them catches bass. Basically, though, bass fishing can be broken down as follows.
Shallow bass can be taken with horizontal casting lures such as topwater and shallow-running plugs, weedless baits, buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, Carolina rigs, flippin^ and pitchin^ jigs, split-shot finesse plastics and live bait under a float. Mid-depth bass are most often caught with diving crankbaits, lipless sinking crankbaits, neutrally buoyant plugs, Texas-rigged plastics and unweighted "whacky worm" rigs. Deep bass can be hooked casting deep diving plugs and slow-rolling big spinnerbaits, or by vertically fishing heavy jigs, weighted plastics, jigging spoons and blade baits.
Generally speaking, bass prefer smaller, slower-moving baits in cold water, and larger, faster-moving baits in warm water. The best advice is to spend as much time on the water as possible and experiment.
How to Locate
One of the most adaptable species that swims, bass can be found from southern Canada to South America. They inhabit lakes, rivers, reservoirs, farm ponds and coldwater streams. Bass live in water ranging from crystal clear to dark as cocoa, relating to weeds and brush, rocks and docks, roots and timber, grass and rip rap.
To narrow down your search, remember that bass spawn on shallow beds in spring, usually relating to sand or gravel. As the season warms, fish tend to be drawn to weeds- either shallow slop or mid-depth weedlines.
During the hottest part of the season, bass go deep, holding on rocky humps and drop offs. If deep water is not available, fish will hunker down in the shade of any cover they can find, usually in ambush positions. Check cuts in reeds, open areas in lily pads, the ends of docks and boat lifts and horizontal timber extending into deeper water. Undercut banks are common holding areas. Even shadows cast by trees or buildings have been known to harbor bass in warm weather.
Live baits effective for bass fishing include minnows, leeches, frogs, crawfish and salamanders, although plugs and scented plastic baits are far more popular. Recognized by professional bass fishermen as the most effective of these is Berkley Power Bait. Power Bait is made with an exclusive scent and flavor formula which stimulates the natural feeding instincts of bass. It is available in dozens of soft plastic shapes, which imitate a wide variety of bass prey, as well as a number of choices in color and opacity.
Power Bait for bass includes original formula; Tournament Strength, which doubles the intensity of the active ingredient; Custom Poured, a softer form of Power Bait; and Neonz, a special, bright-color formula. Power Bait is available in silicone skirts on spinnerbaits and jigs; liquid formula for applying to various hard and live baits; and even a fluorescent jelly form, which is specially formulated to withstand the rigors of casting and retrieving.
If you had to choose only one bait to use to chase bass, the Berkley Power Bait 7" worm would be at the top of the list. Because it can be rigged in so many different ways, Texas style, jig worm or Carolina rig; it is truly effective for bass in all seasons.
Story and photo courtesy of Berkley.