Where to Find Bass
Of course, even if you have all the latest gear, you still won't catch any bass if you don't know where they are. Finding the fish is often the most difficult part of bass fishing. Bass move about a lake, pond, reservoir or stream as the seasons and water conditions change. Time of year, water temperatures, water levels, weather, light and the availability of food are all contributing factors to the migrating characteristics of the black bass.
Sharp contour changes are prime locations for bass. Therefore, points should be the first place to start fishing. Look for rocks and brushpiles on these locations. Largemouth bass especially are highly attuned to "cover" or places where they can hide, feel secure, and ambush prey. Such cover is likely to be in shallow water, but may be deep.
Many fishermen find that smallmouth bass relate to, but do not tend to hide in, cover. For example, a smallmouth might suspend 2 feet off a stump, rather than sit tightly against the stump. Spotted bass, at times, shun cover and suspend out from steep bluffs and over deep river channel structure in reservoirs. At other times, they may hide in deep brush or standing timber. As you can see, all bass use cover; they don't all use it the same way at the same time, however.
Wood can provide excellent cover for bass. Typical wood cover includes:
- Standing timber and fallen trees totally or partially submerged.
- Logs and logjams, floating or sunken.
- Man-made wood structure, including fence rows, docks and pilings.
Most wood deteriorates over time. In a newly inundated reservoir, brush in the water attracts tremendous quantities of baitfish. Bass fishing is typically good to excellent for several years. (This is the so-called "hot-period" of the lake.) Then as the brush decomposes, baitfish often move farther offshore and bass fishing becomes tougher. A lot of decaying wood in a lake or reservoir can spell trouble for bass fishermen because the decay process uses oxygen. Therefore, where a lot of brush and logs are decaying right on the bottom, the bottom layer of water is often unproductive for bass. In situations like this, a topwater bait might be far more productive that a bottom bumping bait like a jig or worm. When fishing docks, keep in mind that isolated docks tend to hold bass better than a whole group. Floating docks or barely elevated ones are usually best.
Many bass fishermen consider weeds to be the ultimate cover for bass. This is because weeds produce oxygen, increasing the life potential of any body of water. Weeds also can be tough to fish, and may require specialized lures and tackle. Good weeds for bass fishing are usually green and with a definite "structure," rather than brownish and/or slimy and filamentous. Weeds to look for include:
- Lily pads. Watch for movement. Spooked bass will zigzag through the pads. Be patient and wait a minute or two. The bass usually come back.
- Floating weeds such as hyacinths.
- Emergent grasses.
- Subsurface grasses (milfoil, hydrilla and coontail)
- Green mosses.
- Reeds (tip: bass tend to leave reedbeds when it's windy. Why? Who knows? They just do.)
In some bodies of water, fishing interests must be balanced with navigation needs and the fears of local homeowners where weeds are concerned. While weeds offer superb bass fishing, they get in the way of barge traffic, block access to boathouses and access areas. One of bass fishing's continuous struggles will be balancing weed growth with weed control.
Rocks provide cover for bass, but the "quality" of this cover is often not as good as that afforded by wood or weeds. This is because rocks are inert - they neither make oxygen nor offer the bass the ability to hide deep within their structure, as do brush or weeds. Rocks do provide a "storage system" for nutrients in the water. However minute particles of decaying matter are caught in the spaces between cracks and are held there, where they can be eaten by minnows and crawfish. This in turn attracts bass.
In general, smaller rocks are better for bass fishing than giant rocks, such as boulders. Gravel is a good type of rock for bass, because gravel holds a lot of decaying matter and attract minnows and crawfish. It also provides a suitable spawning surface for smallmouths.
- You can never go wrong with a tequila colored 7-inch worm in the summertime. Bass love them. Also, add a little scent and sound to the bait. It will attract the bass quicker. -- Ty
- Big is not always better for larger bass. I have caught a lot of 3- and 4-pound bass on smaller crankbaits, especially a Rebel Wee-R. -- Kevin
- On an overcast day use a Rebel Popper (popper should match line weight and surroundings. I used a baby bass color). Cast about 3 feet away from a point near cover, like weeds and lily pads. I caught an 8-pounder once. Use a slow but hard pop when retrieving; or use a slight pop and a fast retrieve; or light pop rest and repeat. It works. -- Jarid
- Weeds may look like a snag from heck waiting to happing. Use a topwater bait very close to them (the weeds are a perfect habitat for bass, bluegill and crappie) or on top. A nice fat bass can often surprise you fishing near weeds. -- Jarid
- I find that fishing under any type of bridge or tree that shades part of the water can be extremely beneficial. Try doing this at the peak of a hot summer day when the sun is high in the sky. I use a Culprit worm and work it very very slowly across the bottom, usually right by the shoreline. Try it, you just might be surprised. -- Ryan
- On a cloudy day use a shiny lure for bass, and on a sunny day use a dull colored lure. Bass respond to opposite colors depending to the sky. -- Sal
- Stained water + a green pumpkin hula grub + 2 rattle beads Texas rigged = bass. Fish it slow and shake your rod tip to make the beads click. -- Anonymous
- Bass are usually near wood, weeds or mucky water. Some are located near waterfalls. -- Anonymous
- When you go to a lake, you may want to find a brushpile where maybe some largemouth bass are feeding. Throw a plastic worm (I prefer a Zoom pumpkinseed or red shad worm) at the edge of the brush. Slowly and gently, work your worm across the brush. If you feel a little tap, keep on reeling. Usually, after the first tap, you will feel a good hit. -- Pierce Cobb
- I fish at a county park that has 5 small lakes. The bass in here are huge, but hard to catch. I'm still experimenting with different lures. I have found that using a Zara Pooch (using the "walking the dog" method) has worked very well for me. I go a few hours before sundown and fish the lakes until I am kicked out for closing. -- Chris
- Of all the live baits I've used, hellgrammites are the best bait. I got a bite on almost every cast with one tied on. To place one on your hook, slide the hook underneath the collar behind its head. Be sure to pinch off its pincers before you cast. Otherwise, it will hook onto a rock or log. If you come across a discolored hellgrammite (one with white or any other non-black color), don't use it because it will break easy. -- R. Bastian