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The Rooster

Please help me be ready to catch a big bass

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I think about bass fishing a lot.  What I can do to better myself at it and all, but it occurs to me that I'm used to catching a certain size range fish and usually can land it within just a minute or less, usually about 30 seconds.  Those are 14 inches and under mostly.   I'm trying to learn to catch bigger fish though.

When I finally do lay into a good sized bass, 5 pounds or more, I'm sure that won't be the case.  Is there any advice you can offer on how to fight a fish, how to play it and not lose it before I get it in the boat??  Cause I'm sure my instinct is going to be to try to get it up and in as fast as I can and I'm liable to pull too hard or let it have too much slack line so it doesn't pull off, or just panic in general when I see a good fish on the line cause I won't know what to do. :o

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Fighting a bass depends a lot on what you're catching them on.  If you catch them on a jig with pretty strong line, have your drag decently tight drive the hook home and haul'em in.  If you catch them on a lure that has treble hooks.  Say a shad rap, deep crank, top water something of that nature.  It's a little tricker.  You don't want to horse them around because the hooks will tear out or the bass will throw them out using the lures weight to sling it.  Keep your rod tip down to help keep the fish from jumping.  When a bass jumps they're trying to shake whatever it is out of their mouth.  My first reaction is to skull hook them and water ski'em to the boat.  Not to good.  Relax, keep the slack out of you line and the usual.....practice practice practice.

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My grandad told me a simple strategy to keep in mind "give him what he takes and take what he gives." Make sure you keep pressure on the fish at all times. If he runs, let off and let your drag do the work. If he eases up or comes to you, take in all the line you can. If he jumps, keep your rod low with the tip near or in the water. If you are in a boat, manouver around known obstacles that can prevent you from landing the bass (i.e. grass, pads, timber). If you are on land, walk around obstacles if you can.

Check your gear before you fish. Make sure your drag is set right. Check to make sure your line is free of abrasions. Recheck your line periodically throughout your fishing trip. The most important thing is to have fun and not worry unnessisarily over losing the fish. The best part is the fight the fish gives so enjoy every second you get. No need to rush things. Good luck on the water.

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My grandad told me a simple strategy to keep in mind "give him what he takes and take what he gives." Make sure you keep pressure on the fish at all times. If he runs, let off and let your drag do the work. If he eases up or comes to you, take in all the line you can. If he jumps, keep your rod low with the tip near or in the water. If you are in a boat, manouver around known obstacles that can prevent you from landing the bass (i.e. grass, pads, timber). If you are on land, walk around obstacles if you can.

Check your gear before you fish. Make sure your drag is set right. Check to make sure your line is free of abrasions. Recheck your line periodically throughout your fishing trip. The most important thing is to have fun and not worry unnessisarily over losing the fish. The best part is the fight the fish gives so enjoy every second you get. No need to rush things. Godd luck on the water.

Excellent post and great advice!

8-)

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My grandad told me a simple strategy to keep in mind "give him what he takes and take what he gives." Make sure you keep pressure on the fish at all times. If he runs, let off and let your drag do the work. If he eases up or comes to you, take in all the line you can. If he jumps, keep your rod low with the tip near or in the water. If you are in a boat, manouver around known obstacles that can prevent you from landing the bass (i.e. grass, pads, timber). If you are on land, walk around obstacles if you can.

Check your gear before you fish. Make sure your drag is set right. Check to make sure your line is free of abrasions. Recheck your line periodically throughout your fishing trip. The most important thing is to have fun and not worry unnessisarily over losing the fish. The best part is the fight the fish gives so enjoy every second you get. No need to rush things. Godd luck on the water.

Excellent post and great advice!

8-)

Agree, good advice. Keep in control of the bass, it can only fight about 2 minutes.  

WRB

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Both great advice.  Probably the most important thing is to not 'freak out' when you hook the big one.  If you can, once you know it's a good one, take a deep breath and try to be patient.

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great advice so far.  follow that and you'll be fine.  i agree with it all.  only thing i can think of to add is to not over think it when a big bass is on the line.  i have seen lots of  people lose big bass because they panic and try to do something different with a big one on than they normally do with regular size ones.  in other words they lose the fish because they are trying so hard to NOT lose the fish.  i'm sure you have caught plenty of bass.  fighting a big one is usually not that much different than fighting a regular size one for the most part.  it's just a matter of degree.  if you can catch a 3, you can catch a 6.      

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All good stuff.  Let add that my current season's best, a 5-8 spinnerbait fish was a totally uneventful landing.  I wasn't even sure it was a season's best until I weighed it.  There have been plenty of 3's and 4's that have been hairy battles, though.

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My grandad told me a simple strategy to keep in mind "give him what he takes and take what he gives." Make sure you keep pressure on the fish at all times. If he runs, let off and let your drag do the work. If he eases up or comes to you, take in all the line you can. If he jumps, keep your rod low with the tip near or in the water. If you are in a boat, manouver around known obstacles that can prevent you from landing the bass (i.e. grass, pads, timber). If you are on land, walk around obstacles if you can.

Check your gear before you fish. Make sure your drag is set right. Check to make sure your line is free of abrasions. Recheck your line periodically throughout your fishing trip. The most important thing is to have fun and not worry unnessisarily over losing the fish. The best part is the fight the fish gives so enjoy every second you get. No need to rush things. Godd luck on the water.

Excellent post and great advice!

8-)

x2!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Thank you RW and BB. Keeping the tip in the water, which I learned from the this forum, has helped me to keep many fish from getting off. Especially ladyfish when I fish inshore. Those things jump like crazy.

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I did not go fishing for 35 years and never caught a bass over a pound or two when I joined this forum about a year ago. I have so far caught numerous 5 pounders and a 10Lber and a 10+ pounder.

You will catch the fish when you least expect it.  Treat every cast with importance. Don't waste your time on what is not working. Know that there are big fish where you are fishing by learning about the water you are on.

If you don't spend a LOT of time on the water you will not learn much and your chances of catching a trophy bass will be zilch.

Learn to adjust the drag while playing the fish and learn to back reel.  Let the fish go where he wants to and NEVER try to turn a big bass.  If you have a good hookset with a sharp hook then you can let him run and dive and whatever he wants to do for the short time that he fights.  I have not caught a bass yet that put up a 10 minute fight or anything like that. If you are using say 10lb test line, you will wear him out in a few minutes, and use a net!!

Most fish are lost when anglers loose their concentration and try to put pressure on the fish. Let the fish run!  That is the incredible fun of it.  He will not run out 50yds of line or anything like that. Just keep your rod up and watch what he is doing giving him line when he wants it and taking it back when he does not fight.

I found that the bigger the fish, the less the fight. They seem to wear out pretty fast, but the initial fight is VERY powerful.  The ones that will give you a good time are the 4-7 pounders. Big Bass master Bill Murphy said you need to practice on the 5 pounders learning the rod skills so that when you do hook up with a monster, you will be ready.

Best to you in your quest.  I never thought about catching a big bass, but I spent so much time out on the water presenting good baits that I guess the law of average went in my favor.  Now, I am not surprised when I hook a good fish.

Lastly, don't be devasted when you hook one and loose it.  If you hook one, you are at least doing something right.  Keep on trying and keep on enjoying fishing no matter what you catch or don't catch.

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I've landed several 4's and 5's this year and I was in a situation where only raw power landed these fish. I fish a pond often that by any measure Bill Dance could do a show on and come away impressed. The problem is it's a Federal Wildlife refuge pond and the rules state0 you can only land fish it. To make things tougher is about 10-30yds of thick grass and moss all along the bank. So I fish frogs most of the time and my lure at time can be VERY far away. So braided line and a 7ft mh rod with a fast real is used to set the hook so hard I've literally fallen on my *** and one time taken my real of the seat on my rod. I then reel the fish in fast to get him up and on top of the moss/grass. When I'm not able to get this done a 3lb bass becomes and 3lb bass with 8lb of grass with him. So if your ever in a similar situation this is what I'd recommend.

What I don't suggest is trying to land a six pounder the way my dad did. This fathers day he caught  a six pounder in thick Lilly pads on a buzz bait. What was impressive was the rod was a ML spinning rod no longer then 5"10" with 8lb test. In this situation we found it best to move the boat not the fish. ;D

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There is no special wizardry or complexity to hanging on to the fish that bites. Simply fish with the equipment that is made for the waters you are fishing. Water loaded with weeds, brush, and such - don't use light rods and light lines.

Ramp up with the gear needed to fish the conditions that you will be in!

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I also got out of fishing and have landed some nice ones here in Missouri. 7 pounds biggest so far. Check your line and knots often. I lost a couple of decent ones by not checking this. Check for frayed areas and check knots inspect them and have your drag set and ready. I also lost one this way earlier.

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I also got out of fishing and have landed some nice ones here in Missouri. 7 pounds biggest so far. Check your line and knots often. I lost a couple of decent ones by not checking this. Check for frayed areas and check knots inspect them and have your drag set and ready. I also lost one this way earlier.

That's what I was gonna add. Check your knots, and re-tie often.

Check your line. I run it (mono, co-polymer) between my lips,it's easier to feel the tiny nicks that occur. If it feels rough, strip off a few feet and check again.

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x3 on checking your line.  Also when reeling them in try to keep your rod tip low trying to keep the fish from jumping and throwing your bait.

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Making sure your line isn't nicked and your knot is good is very important.

As for drag I usually keep mine spun down right tight. If i hook into a larger fish I might back it off just a smidgen but when your fishing in dense cover letting a hog pull drag will usually let him dive in the weeds or wrap around structure. This may not be an option if you are fishing with lighter tackle though, I usually use 30-40 lb braid when in the thick stuff.

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Take the cover into consideration for the area you are fishing.  Are there weed beds nearby or even worse, vegetation such as water hyacinth a big bass can get into, making it impossible to "horse" them out if you are using light line.  Or, is the bottom rocky?  Does it have submerged snags?  If you are fishing open water, or a fairly smooth bottom with light vegetation, you can probably get by with light line.  

I've caught smallmouth over five pounds on two pound test line, but that was in open water with no known obstructions.  It can take as long as thirty minutes to wear down a big smallmouth on two pound test.

That may not be a good thing.  It's considered sporting when compared to winching 'em in.  But the lactic acid buildup can be a death sentence, while winching 'em in does little, if any long term harm.

It has been mentioned, but cannot be overemphasized, drag setting is critical with light line, or any line when a fish can exert greater force than the tensile strength of the line.

It takes patience to land a fish on light tackle.  So, be patient when you finally hook that lunker, and resist the temptation to tighten that drag.  I speak from sorry experience.

Be sure to run the last few yards of your line through your fingers regularly.  You will feel any nicks.  Be sure to trim the damaged line.

One other thing.  Try larger bait.  If you are using small bait such as Mepps spinners, they appeal to small fish, which seem to beat the larger, warier fish to the bait.

I've used a Storm, Tails and Scales, four inch swimbait, which caught several bass.  A few weeks ago, I hooked into ten, landed eight which ranged in size from 2 to 6 pounds.  (Chartreuse color)

Never got a "tap" from a small fish.  

BTW, those lures have a lead weight in the head which makes them dive.  You can real them fast, slow, or jig them.  Whatever it takes.  Their action is incredible.  I've also used the Storm four inch Goby along the edges with good luck, and to my knowlege, there isn't a Goby within 200 miles of the waters I fish.

Ya never know.

Regards, Tom

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