Bass Club

Join A Bass Club To Become A Better Angler

Bass Club Articles
Joining a bass club as a non-boater helps beginners gain valuable lessons in lure and tackle selection, seasonal patterns and boat performance.
Joining a bass club as a non-boater helps beginners gain valuable lessons in lure and tackle selection, seasonal patterns, and boat performance.

Hiring a guide, watching YouTube videos, and reading articles are good ways for novices to learn about bass fishing.

However, I discovered joining a bass club was an excellent way to get several months of on-the-water training about the lures and tactics for catching bass.

When I moved to Lake of the Ozarks in 1981, I had previously fished the lake for crappie and occasionally for bass. I considered myself a novice bass angler then, so I wanted to learn more about how to catch bass at the lake. When I learned about the Eldon Bass Club, I decided to join, allowing me to fish each month with some of the top bass anglers at the lake. The techniques and patterns I learned from them are ones I still use effectively today.

Whether you live near a bass fishery or in suburbia, you can find a bass club near you. A Google search or inquiring at a local bait and tackle shop will help you find the closest bass clubs to you.

Bass clubs are either independent or affiliated with B.A.S.S. or The Bass Federation (TBF). An independent club usually has lower membership dues and mainly focuses on tournaments, including a season finale championship. An affiliated club usually has membership dues and dues to the affiliate. An affiliated club also holds tournaments, but its affiliation with B.A.S.S. or TBF gives members a chance to fish in the state, regional and national championships. The affiliate club also asks its members to participate yearly in conservation or community service projects.

Before joining a bass club, check if the club holds tournaments with a team or draw format. My club held draw tournaments that allowed me to fish with a different partner at each event. A club with this type of tournament format is best for beginners because it offers you a chance to learn more techniques from various partners. I joined the Eldon Bass Club as a non-boater and got paired in tournaments with some of the best amateur anglers from the lake area.

Beginning bass anglers get more bang for their buck by joining a bass club and the bonus of weighing in their catches at the end of the fishing day.
Beginning bass anglers get more bang for their buck by joining a bass club and the bonus of weighing in their catches at the end of the fishing day.

You should also consider joining a club that schedules tournaments on various bass fisheries to help you learn how to fish in unfamiliar waters. Even though the Eldon Bass Club held most of its tournaments at Lake of the Ozarks, it also held some derbies at Truman and Pomme de Terre lakes. 

Joining a bass club offers the cheapest route to becoming a better bass angler. The dues and tournament entry fees I paid for one year in the Eldon Bass Club was less than the cost of hiring a guide for a full day at Lake of the Ozarks. I got to fish seven tournaments a year and won some money.

The whole club experience will teach valuable lessons about the gear you need to become a serious bass angler and how patterns develop based on weather and water conditions. In my first club tournament, I learned the value of owning a warm pair of coveralls and a reliable rain suit after spending eight hours fishing in a howling wind and snowstorm. I also discovered bass will bite on a windy, snowy day in March after my partner caught a limit of bass on a Storm Lures Wiggle Wart, and I coaxed three 3-pounders to bite the same lure. I was also shocked when I saw so many heavy bags of bass brought to the scales during the weigh-in. Before that experience, I would have never left the warmth of home to fish in those conditions, but now I know a spring snowstorm triggers big bass into biting.

I was getting paired with those savvy club anglers who taught me how to retrieve various lures and match each lure with the right combination of line, rod, and reel. The club members owned different boats, so when I rode with them, I also gained plenty of insight into the ride and performance of various bass boats and motors, which became invaluable information when I started to look for my boat.

Fishing in the club for a couple of years as a non-boater taught me how to load my tackle bag by choosing lures based on seasonal patterns and water conditions. So competing from the rear deck in a club tournament will teach you how to pare down your tackle selection. I remember those early non-boater days when I always feared my partner would catch bass on a lure in a specific color that I didn’t have, so I would cram my tackle box full until I could hardly close it. After a couple of years of back deck fishing, I knew how to stock my box with seasonal lures, a practice I continue now even when fishing from the front deck.

The camaraderie and openness of a club tournament are also beneficial in gathering information. Whereas competitors fishing in a regional or national tournament circuit are usually tight-lipped about their exploits on the water, club anglers usually talk to each other about how they caught their fish, which helps you increase your knowledge about the body of water you just fished in your club event.