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rangerboy

How To Land That Monster Bass

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all this talk about trophy fish made me think of the few lunkers ive been lucky to catch.

you set that hook and its solid, you know its big!  but whats the best way to get that bad girl into the boat. you dont want to horse it in. what are the fundamentals to ensure you make the best effort on landing the fish.  

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Set the drag properly and use a net when it gets close to the boat/bank. If the bass is in open water, I would rather the drag be too loose than too tight. But I will tighten up the drag a bit if the hooked bass is heading toward branches/lily pads to guide it back into an open area.

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Set the drag properly and use a net when it gets close to the boat/bank. If the bass is in open water, I would rather the drag be too loose than too tight. But I will tighten up the drag a bit if the hooked bass is heading toward branches/lily pads to guide it back into an open area.

are you using a spinning rod, adjusting the drag on my bait caster might be tough after a fish is hooked,

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are you using a spinning rod, adjusting the drag on my bait caster might be tough after a fish is hooked,

Why? The star adjustment is right there at the handle, unless you have an older lever drag.

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Over the years I have been blessed to put a lot of giant bass over 15 lbs in the boat and only used a net on a few. I know Butch Brown uses a net all the time, so different strokes for different folks.

What is important is controlling the bass and keeping the fish in front of you and this requires you to be able to move around in the boat safely. I have only caught a few big bass from shore and had to follow those fish down the bank to keep them controlled.

The big mistake most anglers make when trying to land a big bass is fighting it like any other bass and forcing the fish in too fast...all h*ll breaks lose along with a hot bass when it get close to a boat or net. Take a deep breath and tell yourself to calm down and take your time, the fight will only last a minute or two, no reason to force it in 30 seconds or less.

Bass usually don't panic at the sight of your hand in the water, so it is easy to get a good hold of their mouth, as long as it doesn't have a lure with multiple treble hooks, then it's net time. I put all my fingers in the inside side of the jaw and thumb on the outside, get a good hold on the bass, set my rod down and lift the bass out of the water and in the boat.

If you are fishing heavy cover you must plan ahead. When you hook a big bass, it will pull against the line pressure and run away from you. If you are inbetwen the bass and an avenue of escape to deeper water, the bass will run deeper into the cover...not good! Plan you lure presentation so the bass can run out of the cover.

Tom

PS; set the drag at 1/3 the line strength for mono or FC and braid not greater then 6 lbs.

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Why? The star adjustment is right there at the handle, unless you have an older lever drag.

im a jack butt,your right, lol.

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tom your replys are always great, any paticular way you like to controll the engagement, like boat pos. in heavy cover

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tom your replys are always great, any paticular way you like to controll the engagement, like boat pos. in heavy cover
Thanks! I have a habit of approaching parallel as close to the bank as practical and cast over cover from one side, in lieu of head on. If I hook a big bass in cover, then try to get inbetwen the bass and the bank while putting pressure on the fish to run out into deeper water and out of trouble, especially trees, brush or tullies.

Open water in our deep structured lakes, this is a lot easier than water like the delta. The delta requires heavy 65 + lb braid to control a bass, the cover is everywhere and makes it more difficult.

Good luck.

Tom

PS ; you should contact Andy "Cooch" Cuccia if you want to learn to catch big bass in the delta, he is in the Jan 2013 Bassmaster Lunker pics with a 14+.

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The biggest reasons I see big bass lost are lack of preparation, and the angler panicking at the sight of a big fish. I spend all that time on the water trying to get the right combination of timing, luck, presentation, and whatever other factors might play in to hook a big fish, I'm not losing it because I didn't check my knot or didn't retie after dragging a fish out of a brushpile because I'm feeling lazy. Almost without fail it's when I lose focus of the little details and get lazy when a big fish comes calling and makes me regret it. 

The second factor I watched happen no less than half a dozen times just this past season. I watched what would have been a PB bass eat a guys swimbait next to the boat, he freaked out and tried to boat flip a 6+ pound fish with a 6' 6" medium rod and 12 pound test, it didn't work. My friend Jon has it terrible. I watched him lose what would have been his PB bass 3 times in the same day. First time he hooked a fish in the 7-8 pound range and just froze when he saw it. The fish knew what to do and wrapped around a branch several times and pulled off. Next was a 7lb class fish on a crankbait. Same thing, saw the fish and froze. Instead of trying to keep the fish down he just watched as the fish wallowed on top and tossed his bait. Last time was a 6lb class fish on the same crankbait. He at least was fighting the fish but still was in such a hurry to get her in that he forced her to the top and she jumped and tossed his bait back at him. He also was suffering from the first factor because he still had the stock hooks on his KVD 1.5 that are notoriously bad. Unfortunately the best way to get over the panic of hooking and losing a big bass is catching big bass. It helps to have a plan in your head what you're going to do when you hook a big fish. If you know what you're going to do beforehand you can concentrate on fighting the fish instead of trying to divide your attention between the fish and what you're going to try to do next. 

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Not that one would use a lever drag b/c for bass fishing, but it really is very simply to operate, I use nothing but for my offshore fishing.

One of the best ways to control a fish is having your hand up on the shaft of the rod, you gain a lot of leverage this way.  If one is bank fishing, this may not always be possible in tight quarters, is to tighten your drag down and just walk backwards pulling the fish out.  This is a saltwater beach ploy that I use all the time in freshwater.  Just make sure you have strong leader and good knots.

One of the main reasons people lose fish is over excitement, stay cool calm and relaxed, don't horse it and let your equipment work for you and not against.

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To add to what Tom and the other guys have posted:

 

1.  Keep line tight. Don't give her any slack. If you give her any slack she will throw the bait, especially treble hook baits.

2.  NEVER POINT THE ROD TIP AT THE FISH. Use the rod's action to control the lady by having the rod to the right or left of the fish. Note how the pros do this.

3.  Tire her out. She will get winded and slow down. You may have to walk her around the boat once or twice.

4.  Always lip her unless as Tom says she has a treble hook bait in her mouth. Then either pick her up from her belly or use a net.

5.  Try to keep her off the bank or on the floor of the boat so you don't remove or damage her slime coat.

6.  Take a picture and weigh her so you can get a copy mounted for your living room.

7.  Release her back into the water by holding her in one spot moving her head back and forth and letting her breath naturally and when she gets her wind back she will splash you with water from her tail and swim away.

8.  Mark the spot on your GPS or use the triangular method of positioning yourself so you will know where she lives. Mark it on your map or make a written record of the location.

9.  NEVER TELL ANYONE WHERE YOU CAUGHT HER. The spot is yours and yours alone.

10. Let us know her weight and post the pic you took of her.

 

Good luck.

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Watch Big O's videos  called "Winchin' 'em Out" I and II. 

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i think patience and staying calm are key to landing bigger fish. i havent hooked a huge double digit largemouth bass, but i have caught some decent stripers and sometimes you just have to let a fish run for a little before you can turn her around. really though, its all about knowing the difference between fighting/playing a fish as opposed to just simply reeling in a fish...

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With the drag issue aside.  Let the rod pull them in rather than winching them in.  I see so many people just reeling and reeling and reeling.... rather than just using the reel to reel in the slack after your rod has made some progress getting the fish closer. 

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Watch Big O's videos  called "Wichin' 'em Out" I and II. 

 

No patience, no calm. His technique is a hard hook-set and maintaining

maximum pressure to pull the fish out of the cover. Then a fast and steady

retrieve to bring that fish to the boat.

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That is true, RW, and he'll warn you three times ("Fish, Fish, Fish!") that he's got a fish on, and if you're not out of the way when he swings, you might just get a rod wrapped around your head! It's awesome to watch, and I learned a lot! 

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I'll make one more suggestion.  It's something I've learned the past couple of years.  Try to keep a constant bend in the rod, to keep pressure on the fish.

 

The mistake many make is that they have a bend in the rod, but when a nice fish makes a hard, but usually short, dash, they apply more pressure to the rod.  Keep the pressure the same, and allow the rod to "follow" the fish while maintaining the same bend. 

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You clearly have two choices; go macho and horse the big bass into the boat or take a controlled approach.

Planning ahead with the proper tackle to handle big bass is very important, but the vast majority of bass anglers are not going to be prepared with heavy tackle for a fish of their lifetime.

Anyone who has successfully landed a DD bass, that was not caught off a bed, will tell you these big fish do whatever they can do to get away. If you let the big bass go where it wants to go your chances are nil landing that bass. On the other hand big bass can turn and run on the heavest bass tackle, they are physically built to make sharp turns and that is the moment of truth.

Tom

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keep tension on the rod, dont hoist it in, go to the right and left, dont pull the fish up to the top of the water:the less jumping the better, use a net if you can

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practice everything mentioned on smaller fish so you are calm cool and relaxed...and have the technique down second nature for when you do hook into the fish of a lifetime. i consider it a success if i land a fish w/o him jumping. and i give myself minus 1 point if he jumps. if they broke the surface, i'm working them too hard. and if cover permits, i don't move my rod right to left b/c the can easily spit the hook with directional changes. i always like my rod to be at 10 o'clock with a nice bend, letting the line, rod and drag do the work.

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Well, in spite of the fact that I suck at so many other "hand-eye" aspects of fishing, what I am great at, is playing a fish once I have it hooked.

For starters, I never get overly excited, or whacked out "until after" I have landed the darn thing :) LOL

Besides all that, I just always keep it tight. If the fish is taking line, fine ! So be it. That's what a drag is for. But .1 second after it stops pulling, I'm on it hard and fast ! NEVER any standoff, tug-o-war BS. Its either ripping drag, or coming in right now.

 

Get it in the live well, and then you can hoop and holler and act 10 kinds of stupid :) LOL

 

Peace,

Fish

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It never hurts to take a quick look at the water around the boat.  You don't want to bring that bass all the way to the boat and have it get into a tree that the boat is sitting against.

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The hardest thing about landing a larger bass is pulling it out of heavy cover.  Some good tips have been given, but the bottom line is keeping that fish buttoned and you shouldn't lose too many.  As I mentioned and Fish Chris reiterated, staying calm and not getting excited will increase your success, you can yank and crank or play them, but being cool is the key.  Bass fishing is fun and enjoyable but I don't see much problem in landing them.

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Landing a big fish starts before you ever hook it. It is vital to make sure your knots are tied well, the terminal tackle/lure you're using are in functional shape, and the hooks are SHARP, and that your drag is set correctly and is smooth, as well as ensuring your line is fresh and free from abrasions, knicks, kinks, ect. The best tool I ever had to help me learn how to fight and land bigger fish was my first decent spinning rod. It was a 7' ML rod, and it taught me more about playing a fish than anything else. My first 6+ LMB and my first several 4+ smallies came on this rig, and I had no option but to fight the fish, or else I'd lose it. The first time I hooked a big fish on baitcasting tackle was a real eye opener. The fish was a 4+ smallie that nailed a 3/8 oz. black and blue jig early in the year, and the hooksettig power and the way the rod handled the fish was amazing to me. However, the lessons that spinning rod have helped me throughout the years, and I still believe that's the best way to learn; by experience.

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