Tips For Beginners
By Donovan Welsh
When choosing a good setup to start fishing especially for bass, I found bigger is not always better. I started out with a 7-foot FLW Platinum pole and a Quantum standard spinning reel. I found that when I hooked my first bass I hardly knew that he was on. This defeats the whole objective of enjoying the fight these great fish deliver.
I then moved to an Ultra-light 5-foot Quantum with an ultra-light reel. This was more like it. Even the one-pounders felt like something really great and I learned to actually feel the fish. I found 6-to 8-pound test Berkley Xl line to be the greatest in casting and had extra stretch to help absorb the shock from the fish.
Beginners can really fight a one-pounder and feel the thrill of the fish taking drag with these small poles. This gives you valuable experience in learning how a bass moves and reacts after setting the hook.
Start out small and then get bigger. That's my advice. Also don't expect to start laying into some five-plus pound fish. They will come with time. Start out seeking smaller fish and gain experience in the fight. You learn how to handle the mighty bass this way because you will need it when you tackle the monsters that are out there.
When starting out it is not necessary to go out and buy all the tackle in the store. Start out with the necessities and that's all you will need for now.
Select a few crankbaits. I find the FLW tour crankbaits to be the best in price and they catch fish. You will need a shallow diver and a deep diver. Two colors of each are fine. Bass are not too picky when it comes to color. Find a natural looking one that resembles baitfish and select a shocker bright one. These represent the two extremes and work well.
Next select a few spinnerbaits. There are so many varieties, but I found the Terminator to be the best. Go for natural and then some shocking colors, both with gold blades. I find that they work best in all conditions.
Select some plastic worms. I call this the patient bait because you often fish for a lot longer before landing a bass. Going for natural colors has served me well and make sure you go through the whole selection available.
Where To Fish First
When one learns to swim, you never jump into the deep end of the pool; you start out in the shallows and make your way into deeper water. I used this principle and started in small ponds and not big Lakes. You catch smaller fish generally but it is the perfect practice ground and will provide you experience with these fish.
Where To Find Fish
This was the first question I asked myself, but I was not completely alone. My brother had some bass experience in South Africa and he gave me a couple of ideas. The best way to look at it is that bass always play hide and seek. You have to look for them, and when you find them you will catch them. Obvious places are boat docks, structures and any obstacles in the water. Bass love to hide in these places so try there first. If you are not successful, then look for areas where the water or the plants change. Where rocks become sand or weeds become hydrilla is a good place. If this fails then try anywhere. I have landed a couple of fish just trying in any area. Fishing is part luck so let luck give you a chance.
Picture yourself as a fish and ask the question, where would I hide and this will give you great success. I don't believe that any fisherman can say exactly where the bass are so try and try and you will catch.
Methods Of Catching Bass
My favorite and most successful method is the crankbait. Others will argue, but I love crankbaits. I have fished all other baits and lures but crankbaits have helped me catch the most fish. It is a simple means of fishing that requires minimal skill. This suits a beginner fine and provides him with the confidence to fish.
Fishing mostly with crankbaits has provided me with plenty of experience. Here are some tips:
- The simple throwing and retrieving method can become very monotonous and boring, so I played with the crankbait in the water. I did this by varying its speed and how deep it goes by reeling faster or by lowering or raising the pole. I found that in calm clear water the bass preferred a regular steady retrieve with no sudden movements, and in choppy murky water they loved an irregular fast and slow retrieve. You must also experiment with this and see what suites you.
- Bass love colorful lures and they seem to hit them more often. I think these lures bother them and so they get mad and attack. I find that casting over and over into an area with bass will always produce an attack. They don't like the lures bothering them.
- Using bait scent has always improved the strikes and I am a firm believer in them.
- When you fish with these lures, always try to make them look good in the water and make the bass come after them. You can do this by making them swim as real as possible. This can be frustrating but if you get the skill you will catch big fish. And believe me, practice makes perfect.
- I have found that using bright colored lures in muddy water and more natural ones in clear water works well. My biggest bass hit a bright yellow and white crankbait in dark water. I guess he was the bully of the area because the bigger bass always seem to grab these lures.
- Bumping these lures against objects in the water attract fish, but you run the chance of getting the lure stuck. This will cause many terrible words coming from your mouth and could cost you money in the end. Be careful where you throw or you will loose your lure. Getting lures into little places is difficult so keep practicing it and you will get it right.
This lure is also a great catcher of fish but needs a bit more skill to operate. This doesn't grab us beginners so I don't use it too much. I found that I was loosing fish that were hitting the blades and not the jig with the hook. This didn't go down well and forced me to hate it. I have caught fish on them but loosing more than you catch is not great.
Big bass can also bend and break them so going for the titanium ones is the only choice. The variety of spinnerbaits is endless but stick with the bright colors. When reeling these lures back I found that keeping it just under the surface of the water worked best because the bass were attracted by the wake it created in the water. Once a fish has taken the lure make sure to strike hard and set the hook because they spit it out the moment they realize it's not a real baitfish.
The Plastic Worm
This is a good lure and represents the most edible and tasty meal -- a worm. This type of fishing requires a lot of patience and skill, which can cause you to dislike it at first. But some days a bass will just love a worm. I found irregular movements in the water caught more bass. The wilder the worm went the more the bass loved it.
Once the bass takes the worm don't strike! Let him swim away with it and then strike. This is such a difficult thing to do because when he takes the line you want to catch him, but patience is the best manner. Bigger bass are not too easily attracted by worms so making them look as real as possible will work. I say that the bigger the bass, the wiser the bass.
Fishing is a learning sport and no one knows it all. Ask questions and don't be limited by your own opinions. Try all techniques and experiment with things. You will find something that works for you and maybe you can help someone else. Go fishing often and you will learn. I found that early morning and late afternoon fishing proved to be most successful.
See you out on the lakes!
Donovan lives in South Africa and recently became hooked on bass fishing while on holiday in the USA. With his new found passion, he set out to learn as much as possible about the sport, talking to every angler he encountered to get information. Within a few months he was catching numerous 8- to 10-pound bass. In this article, Duncan outlines the trials and tribulations he encountered as a beginning angler, hoping to benefit new fishermen who read this.