Very few outdoor activities can be as exciting as catching largemouth bass. They strike forcefully, never give up, and are amongst the ocean’s best acrobats.
The largemouth bass is the favorite gamefish of anglers globally and millions of anglers step out in search of them annually. So, it is no surprise that there are several tournaments and entertainment content dedicated to bass fishing.
In this article, I’m going to tell you all you need to know about largemouth bass. You will learn about the fish, where to find it, the equipment you need, and other bass fishing tips.
Table of Contents
What Is a Largemouth Bass?
The largemouth bass is a gamefish that is a member of the Centrarchidae family. It is indigenous to the freshwaters of the eastern and central US and some areas in Canada and Mexico. However, it has been introduced to other locations as well.
Additionally, the fish is the largest species of black bass. It is also known by several other names that include black bass, bigmouth bass, Green trout, Widemouth bass, Potter’s fish, Florida bass, and many more.
The fish has a massive mouth just as its name suggests. When it comes to color, the largemouth bass is greenish-grey. You will also find dark blotches on both sides of the fish.
See how a largemouth bass sucks in its prey in the following video:
What Is Regarded As a Trophy Largemouth Bass?
The answer to this question should depend on the location of the catch. A northern largemouth can weigh as much as 10 pounds while a female in the south can reach 20 pounds. However, any largemouth bass that weighs between 8 to 20 pounds can be referred to as a trophy bass.
The Best Fishing Rod and Reel for Bass
If you are an amateur angler interested in bass fishing, you should consider getting a spinning rod and reel combo. This combo will make the process simpler and more efficient for you.
On the other hand, you should invest in a baitcasting rod and reel combo if you are an experienced angler looking to catch bass. This set of fishing equipment is more complicated but your fishing experience will improve greatly once you get it right.
Both categories of fishing equipment are great for catching big bass. But unless you are ready to invest your time on a Baitcaster, you should opt for a spinning combo.
These are my recommendations:
- Medium 6 ft 6 in fast action spinning rod and size 35 spinning reel (Amateur)
- 7 ft medium-heavy casting rod and 6.3:1 low profile baitcasting reel (Intermediate)
- You may check this guide to learn how to set up a baitcasting and spinning reel
The Best Line for Bass Fishing
If you don’t have sufficient experience in spooling up a spinning combo, you should opt for a 10 lb monofilament line. I have recommended mono fishing lines because they are budget-friendly and easy to use.
Meanwhile, you should opt for a 20 lb monofilament line if you are a beginner using a baitcasting combo. More experienced anglers should invest in a full Fluorocarbon (15 to 20 lb) leader line. This type of fishing line is the most efficient. However, you will need advanced fishing skills to use it. It is also more expensive.
What Is The Best Bait for Largemouth Bass Fishing?
Since largemouth bass are carnivorous, the most effective live baits for them are their favorite prey. The favorite preys of largemouth bass include crawfish and small fish such as minnows, shad, and shiners.
Similarly, the most effective artificial baits for largemouth bass are the ones that mimic their favorite prey in certain ways. The aggressive nature of bass makes them attack different kinds of artificial baits.
As a result, most of the lures used for bass fishing don’t appear exactly like the natural prey of bass. The vital thing is that the lures have features that attract largemouth. A good example is a lure that flashes in the light.
What Artificial Baits Are Used for Bass Fishing?
Here are some of the artificial baits that you can use as a bass angler:
A jig is a fishing lure that usually comes with a skirt to send pulses into the water. These pulses then pull bass towards the bass. Jigs can be used for bass fishing in both shallow and deep water and they are suitable for temperatures between 50 to 90 degrees. You will also use them in different environments, from steep underwater banks to shoreline grass. They are suitable for year-long use.
Crankbaits are lures that usually appear like small fish or crayfish. They come with plastic lips that enable them to go below the surface of the water and wobble as they are reeled in. You can use a crankbait in various depths and all kinds of weather.
Jerkbaits are a type of fishing lure that floats on water. When the rod is jerked, it causes the lure to move like it’s alive, which draws the largemouth bass in. They are more suitable for clear water, low temperatures, and periods when bass actively eats baitfish. You can use jerkbaits in various weathers and conditions.
Rubber baits are incredibly versatile fishing lures and for this reason, they are a popular choice amongst anglers. These fishing lures can be rigged in a wide variety of ways. Hence, you may use them in shallow water or deeper water. Some of the traditional techniques used for rigging rubber baits consist of the California rig, drop shot, and weightless.
Soft Plastic Baits
Soft plastic baits are another form of lure used by bass anglers and they are similar to rubber baits. However, the difference is that soft plastic baits are exact replicas of the prey of largemouth bass. Good examples of these creature baits are salamander, frogs, and crawfish made of rubber. Since they can also be rigged in a wide array of ways, you will be able to use them in various environments.
Spinnerbaits are artificial baits that are equipped with metal blades that rotate as they move through the water. Light is reflected by the blades as they rotate, making the baits appear like baitfish. To further lure largemouth bass, spinnerbaits also feature rubber skirts that produce vibrations in the water. You will find a spinnerbait to be useful in various environments in both shallow and deep water.
Swimbaits are a type of fishing lure that is popular for their lifelike movements in the water. They carry out a natural rolling movement and their tails wiggle when they are reeled in. This combination is incredibly effective in attractive bass. You will be able to use swimbaits in various depths of water.
What Tackle Storage Should I Use?
As a beginner, you should consider getting an 11″ × 7″ Stowaway Utility Box. This type of tackle storage is compact and portable. So, you will be able to carry it around with ease or keep it in your backpack.
Once you start acquiring more tackle, you can then proceed to invest in a soft-sided tackle system for storing your stowaways. Anglers who love fishing on weekends tend to prefer hard-sided tackle boxes. However, these boxes are less flexible due to their limited space. They also lack portability.
What Is the Best Setup for Bass Fishing?
Over the years, bass anglers have been looking for newer ways to improve their fishing techniques. One way that they have been able to achieve this is by getting new rigs. Each fishing rig has a unique setup that makes it best suited to certain situations.
Here are the different types of rigs that are available in the market:
This is one of the most common rigs used by bass anglers partly thanks to its versatility. It is suitable for both shallow and deeper water fishing.
The dropshot rig consists of a hook and weight that are tied inline so that the shank hangs parallel to the bottom. The hook should face upwards to avoid snagging.
This is a type of fishing rig that comes with soft plastics and weedless hooks. A carolina rig work with egg sinkers that weigh up to 4 ounces and you can use a fishfinder slide when the weight is heavy.
Put a plastic bead on the mainline to prevent the fishfinder or sinker from snagging on the swivel. This bass fishing setup increases the chances of selecting the bait without sensing the sinker`s weight.
The Ned Rig
Largemouth bass tends to be lethargic during the fall and winter months and the Ned rig is the perfect rig for hunting in these periods. Though the rig is easy to use, you will need to know how to set up your jig head and soft plastic bait. After that, it will be easier to learn how to fish using the Ned rig, even in tough conditions.
The following video demonstrates how to set up a Ned rig:
This is another popular bass fishing rig that is loved by avid anglers for its versatility and functionality. The rig requires a worm hook and a unique cone-shaped weight, the worm hook should be threaded to ensure that the hook is well covered. This way, the rig can move through heavy cover or weed without snagging.
The Right Place to Fish For Bass
After going through the necessary gear, it is time to get to the more serious business i.e. where to fish for bass. Most largemouth bass will be located in 10% of a lake. However, this doesn’t mean a particular area. Instead, they are found in different pockets of water that will equate to 10% of the lake.
You will make good catches when you encounter these spots. However, largemouth bass are either loners or in pods of two to three. As a result, you will only be able to make a few good catches in each spot you discover. You need to understand why bass are found in these areas to find duplicates. This will make you an excellent bass angler.
The factors that you will have to work with when searching for bass include depth, structure, water temperature, shelter, and conditions.
Now, let’s take a look at each of these factors:
Largemouth bass can be found in areas where structural change occurs and this may either be in a change in depth or bottom consistency. Some of these areas include creek channels, holes, drop-offs, humps, etc.
Shelters are used by bass for shade and as a means to ambush their prey. These shelters may either be natural or artificial features that create the ideal environment for the fish to get their food. Good examples include boulders, logs, docks, sunken trees, etc.
Structure and Shelter
What you need to do is to stand near a structure where bass usually holds and focus on the area where there is a shelter. A good example will be to target a sunken tree (shelter) in a creek channel (structure). There is a good chance that there is a bass ready to strike in such an environment.
The best temperature range in which largemouths are most active is between 65 to 75 degrees. Hence, a period when the temperature rises between 67 to 73 degrees will have higher bass activity than periods when the temperature ranges between 61 to 67 degrees.
The body temperature of a largemouth bass depends on the temperature of the water it is located in. So, they tend to conserve their energy in low temperatures (<60). Similarly, they are usually focused on survival in high temperatures (>80) due to the reduced oxygen level.
Though the weather conditions are beyond your control, you should only consider bass fishing in temperatures between 60 to 80 degrees.
The time of the day when largemouths are most active is when there is very little light i.e. early in the morning and late in the evening. In addition to their activeness, you will also be able to predict their location in this period.
In the earlier part of the morning, largemouth bass tends to move to the shallower forage. This presents an excellent opportunity for shore and dock anglers to make a catch in the shallow areas.
As the day becomes hotter, the fish will either go deeper into the water or find shelters such as docks and branches. But by noon when the sun is at its peak, the fish will have no other place to go but the deeper water.
The best places to find largemouth bass during this period include mid-lake structures such as creek channels and humps. As expected, the fish will return to the shallow areas once the sun goes down in the evening.
Largemouth bass spawn in spring when the temperature of the water is around 65 degrees. This is done within 3 to 5 feet of water in covered bays.
Though they don’t actively feed during this period, they can be triggered into taking baits. It is a great idea to target bass during the spawning season because they migrate to shallow water to create easily noticeable spawning beds.
These circular beds usually have a diameter of around 1 ft with the earth being free of dirt and exposed. Largemouth bass do not give up their beds, so you should re-target these areas to trigger the smaller males. It may even provoke the females too.
However, you will have to practice catch and release during spawning season to protect the fish population. You should also do your best to avoid disturbing the spawning beds and the roes. To achieve this, you should consider approaching them from a distance using a watercraft or along the shore.
The Best Bass Fishing Techniques
Though you now know where to find your bass, you won’t make a catch by simply tossing bait into the water. You will need to make use of the right bass fishing techniques to consistently catch bass.
Below are the best bass fishing techniques:
Pitching and Flipping
There are times when bass won’t be so active and would seek thick cover. If you are to catch bass in such situations, you will have to do it in a stealth manner.
The best techniques for getting shy bass under thick cover without spooking them are pitching and flipping. These techniques share several similarities, however, there are situations where one will be more effective than the other. Distance be the main determinant of the method you are to use.
To be able to use any of these techniques successfully, you will need practice, a good soft plastic bait, and a rod that is between 6.5 to 7.5 feet long.
Pitching is an easy fishing technique to master but it is less accurate than flipping. You start by releasing an amount of line that is just about even with your reel and ensure that your reel stays open (button pressed). Then, extend the rod tip in the direction of the water while pressing the reel spool. Hold the lure in your other hand and give the line some tension by pulling it.
Release the lure and raise the tip of the rod simultaneously. As the lure flies in the direction of your target, let go of the reel spool. Once your bait lands, you should close the reel immediately as the fish strikes quickly. However, you will need to repeat this process a good number of times to get the timing right.
It takes more time to master flipping than pitching. However, it will enable you to enhance your presentation and strike your target with more accuracy once you master it. Start by releasing between 8 to 15 feet of line and hen, shut the reel. Holding the line in the middle of the reel and the first guide rod, turn your hand to the side as you draw the line.
The bait will now swing in your direction when you lift the rod. Swing the bait to your target area using pendulum motion and simultaneously, feed line with your hand. Secure the loose line and be prepared for a strike. This process may seem weird, but it is effective for catching shy bass.
This is another effective technique used for catching bass. It requires you to fish off the bottom of the water since largemouths aren’t usually found in shallow water when they aren’t spawning. You attract the bass by dangling your bait at the bottom of the water.
You may cast your bait along the edge of structural changes, across structures, or along the edge of shelters such as weedlines. However, you should note that bass are not found in the weeds. Instead, they are usually located on the shaded side of the deadline. You need to allow the bait to cover the water column from the upper part of the weeds to the lower part. After that, work your bait off the lower part of the weeds as it returns.
More Tips on Bass Fishing
The more information you have, the better your chances. Here are some information that you will find useful during your bass fishing adventure:
Pay Attention to the Tide
You should always take your time to check out the tide times before heading out on a bass fishing adventure. This isn’t just about improving your chances, but it is also a good way to ensure your safety. You can get a free tide prediction from NOAA Tides and Currents. Also, you should remember to check what the weather and sea temperature will be like.
Your safety should always come first in everything that you do. It doesn’t matter if you will be fishing from a boat or the shore, you shouldn’t overlook your safety. Firstly, you should never go out on a fishing trip without your lifejacket. You will also need an exit plan from rocks and beaches.
When choosing a fishing spot, you have to ensure that it will enable you to land and return bass safely. It is always a good idea to go fishing with a partner. But if you will be going alone, notify your loved ones about when and where you will be fishing.
Bass love striking in close range. As a result, you have to search out the water below you, even if it doesn’t seem deep. Position your fly or lure at the edge and look out for areas that are recently flooded.
Adapt Adapt Adapt
You should avoid being overly reliant on one bass fishing strategy. It is nice to hunt largemouth bass with flies and lures when the water is clear and calm. However, baits will be much more effective when the water has been stirred up. Good examples of baits that are great to have as backup include crab and mackerel heads. Also, you should have float gear. It is highly suitable for baits like ragworms and Sandeel that you will need for fishing over broken ground.
The Bass Anglers Sportsman Society is an organization that promotes bass fishing as a sport and organizes tournaments. It also focuses on the conservation of waterways, organizes social events, and provides bass anglers with essential information. It currently has over 500,000 members.
How to Catch, Photo, and Release Largemouth Bass
Not all bass anglers are interested in having the fish for dinner. If you are one of those anglers that fish out of love for the tug, you need to know how to catch, photo, and release the fish. This way, you can give the fish you catch a good shot at survival.
Once you get that feeling or see the movement on your line, you have to set the hook and start reeling. Though you may have seen some anglers swing their catch into their boats, it should only be done by experts. You should proceed to claim your catch via netting or lipping if you are a beginner.
This method of securing largemouth bass will require you to hold the lower lip of the fish with your thumb and forefinger. You will need to support the body of the bass with your second hand if it’s a big one. However, this method may result in abrasion. This is because largemouth bass possesses sandpaper-like teeth that can scratch your skin.
For you to use this method, the fish needs to be just below the water surface. You have to carry out the process gently to avoid hitting the bass with the rim or moving the net towards it too early.
Additionally, the fish should only be taken out of the water when necessary. Since it can only breathe underwater, you should leave it there for as long as possible. You should also note that the slime on a bass’ body serves as a protective layer. So, you have to avoid carrying it with dry hands or placing it on unfavorable surfaces if you don’t want to hurt it.
Get the hook out of the fish as quickly as you can. A pair of pliers will come in handy here.
Remember to carry your smartphone or camera on your bass fishing trip so that you can record your catch. You should also carry a scale or a hawg trough if you wish to record the weight and length of your catch. The best way to take a picture is to select a pose that can capture your appearance and the size of the fish in minimal time. One of the best poses for a fish photo is when the angler kneels with an arm extended.
Timing and carefulness are vital during this process. You can release the bass back into the water by either holding its body or lipping it. Do not let go of the fish in the water until it starts moving. If it doesn’t start moving immediately, give it between 3 to 5 seconds.
If that doesn’t work too, you may have to work the bass in a swim-like motion so that water will flow into its gills. You may not hurt a fish by tossing it straight into the water. However, it is much better to gently place it in the water and give it a chance to regain its bearing.
You may also watch this video to learn how to catch and release largemouth bass.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the largest largemouth bass on record?
The current IGFA world record for the largest largemouth is held by a bass caught by George Perry in 1932. It weighed 22 pounds, 4 ounces. No one caught a bigger largemouth bass until 2009 when Manabu Kurita caught a monster that weighed 22 pounds, 5 ounces. Unfortunately for the Japanese angler, his catch was unable to break the world record because it was not up to 2 ounces larger.
What do largemouth bass eat?
Largemouth bass are carnivorous and as a result, they eat various types of prey. They start their lives feeding on smaller prey such as insects, scuds, and little baitfish. Then, they move on to smaller fish, snakes, frogs, crawfish, etc as they grow older.
Adult bass resides in the deeper part of large lakes and reservoirs. This enables them to add prey such as yellow perch, sunfish, catfish, trout, etc to their menu.
How fast do largemouth bass grow?
How well largemouth bass grow usually depends on several factors, including the availability of food and environmental conditions. When the conditions are right, the fish can grow up to two lbs in its first year. However, the average growth rate is around 0.5 lbs annually.
How can I catch a largemouth bass?
You can catch largemouth bass in several ways but the ideal method will depend on your unique situation. So, you should start by considering your situation and then adapting your fishing equipment and style to suit it.
When is the best time to fish for largemouth bass?
Largemouth bass usually hunt for their prey in low light. So, the ideal time to fish for them is from dawn to 8 am and from 5:30 pm till dusk. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t catch bass during other periods of the day.
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