Hey there fishing enthusiasts and welcome back to my site where I like to discuss and research all things fishing – oh, and I don’t mind wetting a line occasionally as well. Today I am going to check out a target species as I discuss my 5 Largemouth Bass fishing tips to gulp down this year. Largemouth Bass are a fantastic, aggressive fighting fish that are a lot of fun to catch.
They can however often be elusive as well so here I am going to see what tips we can come up with to assist you in getting them onto the hook and into the net…
What are Largemouth Bass?
Largemouth Bass are an aggressive, carnivorous freshwater gamefish native to eastern and central United States, southeastern Canada and northern Mexico. They are an extremely popular sport fish due to their penchant for striking at bait and lures alike and will put up a great fight when caught – often jumping out of the water as they are reeled in.
Their name comes from – well – their large mouths that extend at least to the rear edge of their eyes. And although they can certainly be taken home for lunch, they do not hold a great reputation as a table fish with most anglers choosing to enjoy the catch and then releasing them to fight another day.
To be honest, my fishing experience when it comes to Largemouth Bass is limited (I live in the wrong country for starters) however I have been on a charter in Texas and can proudly say that I have a catch to my name (sadly no photo to back it up however). It was a fantastic experience and I can certainly see why it is so popular.
I will say however that based on my experience and research, that the tips I will run through below are very similar to most of the fishing I do at home – i.e. know what the fish eat, when they like to eat it and where they will be when they are hungry. So with all that in mind – let’s elaborate on it all further below:
1. Bass like cover
Ok, so my first tip here involves knowing where the fish like to be. Largemouth Bass live predominately in lakes and rivers where there are generally a lot of structure such as rocks, ledges (sudden drops on bottom), trees, bridges or jetties and so on and this is where they like to hang out. There are always exceptions but in general, you will need to be flicking your lures or bait into these structures in order to land your catch.
The good news is that a lot of the time these structures will be located close to the bank so you can definitely catch them from the bank without need for a kayak or boat. On the other side of the fence, prepare to get snagged a bit – especially if you are using lures – as you cast into them.
2. Research your fishing grounds
This one is definitely a tip for all types of fishing but especially important for Bass where water temperature etc. can play a large part in their feeding habits. If you fish in the same spot every time then you can probably move onto the next tip. However if not, then it probably goes without saying that what works in one spot may not necessarily work in another. If you are fishing somewhere new, then consider the following:
- Water temperature – We will discuss this a bit more in tip 4 below but how fish behave in different temperature water is relative to how cold or water the water is on average. Think of this as just like us humans – a water temp of 45 degrees might be considered warm for a fish in a lake that freezes over in winter. Alternatively, in warmer climates (such as Florida for example) this might be considered cold meaning fish are less active feed wise.
- Water clarity – Fish behave differently dependent upon whether the water is clear or murky – in clear water, look for structure or places fish can hide. They may even go a little deeper as baitfish will go there for protection as well. If the water is murky or cloudy however, you might find fish out in the open a bit more or in shallower water. Use fresh bait or brightly coloured lures in murky water too.
- Time of day – Again, such as it is with many fish species, Largemouth Bass are generally more active at night, early morning or late afternoon – especially in the warmer months. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t; active in other parts of the day – especially if there is a lot of shade, rain or wind. Bass are also apparently more active in windy and/or rainy conditions to check with the locals to see when they like to feed in that neck of the woods.
- Structure – As per tip #1 above, look for any structure that fish might like to hide under…
- What else is in the water? – We will discuss this next, however if you are wondering what bait or lures to use then you will need to check out what is in the water naturally. It is no good tying your favourite lure onto the line if it doesn’t match the type of live bait that shares the water with your target species. See what is found locally and match your fresh bait or lures accordingly.
- Ask a local – Want to know all of the above – ask a local. Lake or riverside tackle and bait shops are a good starting point here.
3. Match bait and lures
As mentioned above, Largemouth Bass are particularly aggressive fish that will take a large range of baits and lures. However, like most wild animals, fish will chow down on whatever is available to them in their local environment. So if you want them to nibble on your bait, then try to match as closely as possible to what they eat naturally. All too often we tend to just run into the old bait shop and purchase what we have always used without any considerations to local conditions.
The same goes for lures – we all have our favourites but if you want to give yourself the best chance of landing yourself a big mouthed beauty, then I would strongly suggest finding out what lures are popular in that area. Admittedly there can be a science to this and many seasoned Bass fisherman will swear by using different lures at different times. Others only use certain types (or fresh bait) and won’t hear of anything else.
Basically, anything that will attract a fish is the right type to use – but as above, regardless of where you sit in the old fresh bait vs lures debate – if you can match what is found locally, then your chances of a good catch will increase.
4. Adjust for the seasons
Where I fish here in the land down under, we catch a lot more fish closer to the shore break in the surf in winter than we do in summer due to the fact that they come in shallower to find warmer water. This is similar for Largemouth Bass (who are cold-blooded) in that the water temperature etc. can greatly affect their eating habits and hence the amount of times they are charging at your bait or lure.
I do remember my guide talking about this and my research has found many examples of optimum water temperature for catching Bass to be anywhere between 50 and 65 degrees. Others swear that they also tend to be more active as air pressure drops – usually ahead of stormy or rainy weather – as well. And whilst I could spend hours talking about the science behind it all (leaving out the fact that I am not a trained meteorologist), keep the following in mind depending on the season:
- Winter – Let’s start with the ‘down’ month that is winter. As they are cold-blooded, Largemouth Bass are like the rest of the animal world in that they are lethargic, don’t feed as often and will do whatever they can to keep warm. The best time for fishing here is different to summer in that mid-afternoon tends to be better as the sun has had the opportunity to warm the water a little. They will go deeper early when the top is cold (or icy) and come in shallower if the water is warmer there (as that is where the baitfish will go too).
- Spring – Spring is for spawning and feeding. As the water temperature increases after winter, Bass will start to actively feed and guard territory in the shallows as they prepare for the spawn – often called pre-spawn. After spawn however, Bass do not tend to feed as much as they are busy protecting their ‘nests’. All in all, many Bass ‘experts’ call the spring pre-spawn season as the best time of year to get amongst them.
- Summer – The general rule of thumb for summer is that Largemouth Bass tend to either go deeper to cooler water (again a common trait amongst many fish species) or in shallower lakes, will seek the shade of a structure. Fishing is usually better early morning, late afternoon or at night when the water is a little cooler as well. If you are fishing in the daytime, leave the surface lures at home.
- Autumn – Autumn is considered another great period for Bass fishing for a number of reasons. Firstly, the water is cooling after the summer heat bringing the fish out of the depths and secondly, they are fattening up for winter. Look for big balls of baitfish that are also coming into the shallows or if the weather cools quickly, go to the deeper water for some bigger lurkers.
Note: Many states and jurisdictions work to protect fish stocks via the implementation of fishing seasons throughout the year. Always check your licensing body for seasonal regulations in the body of water that you plan to fish in.
5. Keep your equipment sound
And finally, perhaps my biggest tip here is that regardless of when and where the fish are biting, your chances of landing your personal best Largemouth can be significantly reduced if you don’t look after your equipment.
- Maintain your fishing reel – Make sure it is clean with a good quality line. Rinse it off after every use with a full clean and oil after each season.
- Clean your rod – Again, rinse your rod after each session and check for any crack or breakages – especially in the o-rings and guides. Remove the reel and clean the seat, screws and handle every month or so as well.
- Use new tackle – Blunt hooks means no fish. I am a strong advocate of replacing your tackle after every trip. And whilst this is not as important in fresh water fishing as it is in salt, keep in mind that hooks are dragged over rocks, logs and along the bottom meaning they can go blunt even if you don’t catch anything. Lures tend to last a few trips but if possible, I would recommend replacing the trident hooks every few uses as well.
- Check your tools – Tools should also be rinsed after each use however this is not always done. And trust me there is nothing worse than getting out there and finding out your pliers are rusty or knife blunt. Clean and lubricate tools and sharpen your knife every month or so.
So there you have it, my 5 Largemouth Bass fishing tips to gulp down this year. As always, these are not going to guarantee you a catch, however they should give you a little more chance of success that you may not have otherwise had.
Have you tried anything else that has worked well, or not so well for you – or of course have a different opinion than above? If so, please comment below and we can have a chat.