Bank Fishing Tips and Tricks
Learn how to catch fish from the bank with these tips and tricks!
Gene: Hi, guys, this is Gene Jensen with Bass Resource.com, again. Today we're going to do a video on bank fishing.
I've had a lot of you guys email and text me and so on and so forth, requesting a bank fishing video. So, it's been so long since I've had an opportunity to bank fish, I contacted my buddy, Ryan, and he still does it all the time. There are a couple of lakes right down from his apartment that he goes to all the time. And he's actually won a couple of tournaments bank fishing when he was a Junior Bass Master. So, who better to go to than somebody that’s got more experience than I do? So he's going to go through his tackle, and then we're going to do a little bit of fishing and talk about techniques and things like that for you.
Ryan: Hey, guys, how's it going? I'm Ryan from BassResource, I'm Senko 77 on there. And today we're going to be talking about a little bank fishing and the best way to carry your tackle and kind of some tactics to help you guys catch a couple when you guys are stuck on the bank and don't have a boat. But, anyway, the whole goal of bank fishing is you want to be able to, as fishermen, we all want to have as many baits as possible to feel confident, and you stuck out on the water and you feel like, oh, I left that bait at home. It can be frustrating. So we want to talk to you guys on how I carry my stuff, and make it easy. Because when you're bank fishing, you don't want to be lugging around a bunch of stuff and be uncomfortable and have to have a bunch of fishing rods and a bunch of tackle.
So, the best thing you can do is backpack. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. If you want a bigger backpack, go for it. You can carry more tackle. But I keep my system really simple. First thing is I have my side pockets here. I usually keep some snacks in one side and some sunflower seeds, a little water. On my left side, here, I always make sure I carry my scents, a little Megastrike, and always make sure you've got a bottle of JJ's Magic. And what I do is, I like a backpack with two pockets. I like to have one big main pocket, and then I have the second smaller pocket. And on the front pocket, here, what I do is I make sure that I carry stuff like my scale. I always make sure I have a pair of pliers. I like these little Rapala pliers. They've got a little crooked tip there where it's a little easier to get a gut hooked fish out. A lot of times when you're bank fishing you run into bluegill, and a pair of forceps are really good for that. I also like to have a pair of heavy duty cutters, if you're fishing with braided line, if you need to cut something a little heavier. So that's usually what I keep in my main pocket up front here. Sometimes, you guys can carry a little pair of scissors--whatever you have for dealing with your line and dealing with dead fish, also. I usually keep that in the front pocket. I like to eat a lot so if I carry some extra snacks, it's kind of good for that.
And then as far as tackle goes, that's what I kind of stuff this main compartment with. I've had a lot of years to kind of experiment with what works best. And what I've found works best for me is I carry one bag for soft plastics, and then I carry four smaller size Plano boxes. How I did it is my personal favorite for the soft plastics is . . . I know a lot of you guys are members of Bass Master Magazine. Well, if you look at the little flier in Bass Master Magazine, you'll see a renewal gift, and they are these little Bass Member bags and these things are awesome. You know, the way I got them is I got one bag for renewing my membership and every other bag that I have is on BassResource. I went to the marketplace part of the forum and I just asked people. Tons of people have these, and nobody uses them. And I love them.
So the great thing about these bags is they can double as two things. Number one, they can hold your soft plastics, which is what I use them for. And number two, you can fit these Plano boxes in them. These bags right here will carry four of these, and you still have a zippered pocket up front if you want to carry a couple of extra soft plastics. This is a great idea if you don't have a backpack. But if you have a backpack, you can use them to really get a bunch of tackle in there. So anyway, I use the main compartment of my bag . . .
Gene: You can go down on the ground.
Ryan: . . . to carry worms. The way I have mine set up is I put all my craws and all my jig trailers in my Senko, my stick-style baits up in this front pocket here. And then in the main pocket, you can see you can fit tons and tons of bags in here. I probably have 25 or 30 bags of plastic in there. It's just endless. I kind of categorize them. I make sure that one section is my straight-tail worms, one section is lizards, one section is craws. So, it kind of makes it easier accessing. Pick a couple of colors you like, and as many soft blacks as you can stuff in here, use it up. And then in this front pocket here, you can see I've got my Senkos. I've got different craw-style baits, and jig trailers. I've got a couple of Flukes in there. Just kind of pack your bag the way you like to fish, your favorite colors, your favorite styles. Make sure you pack them up.
And underneath those I have four of these Plano tackle boxes. Now this amount of tackle will fit in any size book bag. You don't need anything special. I've got one box here, just set for just terminal tackle. You can get these little boxes. They come with tons of the dividers, and you can have your weights. You can have your hooks, and one of the things that I do is I went to a Staples store, or you can go to any office supply store, and get these little tabs, these paper tabs. They're sticky, and you can write the weight that you have. I have different size hooks.
And so these little boxes hold a ton of stuff. And so, you know, have one for terminal tackle. I've got two of them in here for hard baits. I've got Rat-L-Traps in one of these boxes. Then I have the other box with jerk baits, and I have some top waters in there. And then I have another box for jigs, which is right here.
So as you can see, with a backpack you really can have a lot of tackle. I probably have enough tackle in this backpack to cover any situation that I'm really going to encounter when I'm bank fishing. So, anyway, get your book bag, get you a couple of small soft plastic bags to stuff your soft plastics in. I don't know the exact size of this Plano, but I would say--what do you think--this is maybe. . .
Gene: It's a 3601. The 3701 is the real skinny 3700 box. The 3601 is the real skinny 3600 box. So anything that says 01 at the end, you know it's going to be real skinny one.
Ryan: You can see how skinny it is. You don't need those wider boxes. You're really wasting a lot of space with those. Like I said, if you can get these Bass Master Magazine bags, you can hold four of these in each one of your bags. So, my system, like I said before, I have four of these boxes underneath that soft plastic bag. And then I stuff that with soft plastics, and I'm never going to run into a situation where I don't have a bait ready. So, throw them in your book bag, get you a couple of waters, get you a couple of snacks.
Gene: What about your rods?
Ryan: OK. All right.
Gene: Let's see what you . . .
Ryan: Really, when you're bank fishing, you don't want to bring a lot of stuff with you. I usually carry just two rods. I always make sure I have a spinning rod. I know a lot of guys call these fairy wands, but really, when you're fishing these small ponds, a lot of times you're not going to really encounter a lot of big bass. There are not going to be a lot of numbers of them. So I just use, I believe, this is a 2500 Series Reel.
Gene: What a minute. Guys, this is coming from a geek kid who caught a 14-pound bass bank fishing. So, yeah, you'll encounter some big ones.
Ryan: Yeah, when you're fishing a tournament you're looking for populations of big bass. When you're bank fishing, you're just there to relax and have a good time. And you know, as far as what I do, anything that bites, I'm happy for. So spinning rods can cover anything from bluegill all the way to my biggest bass, which was 14 pounds 7 ounces. And I caught that on a spinning reel with 8-pound line. So you don't need the big, heavy equipment that you use when you're tournament fishing. I always make sure that I carry a spinning reel with me.
I like braid; it's really multipurpose. If you're fishing real clear water, take your braid and throw a fluorocarbon leader on there. This is really all you need. I mostly fish with spinning reels when I'm fishing from the bank. You can carry a baitcaster with you. You can carry as many rods as you want, but for me, when I'm bank fishing, I really just like to keep it simple. I usually carry one spinning rod. I usually carry one baitcasting rod, and that's all I really need.
So anyway, we're going to, in the next part of this video, show you guys how we fish the ponds when we bank fish.
Gene: All right, now, what I'm going to talk about is the technique of the bank fishing. One thing I learned about . . . Ryan just got a bite . . . one thing I learned about years ago, I think I was watching a Bill Dance video. Bill Dance explained the technique of fan casting. And what fan casting is you come up to a bank like this and you divide, kind of like one of those oriental fans, you start casting to cover your area in a fan pattern. Now it's not from there to there to there to there to there all the way around. One thing I learned is most bass, or a lot of bass, like to hang real shallow. So you're going to start out throwing here to this side. You're going to work this side of the bank, then you're going to cast out and work that side. And then you're going to work your way around in that fan pattern and work that area. Some of the kind of places you look for when you're fishing the bait, Ryan, what do you try to fish structure-wise?
Ryan: Basically, in most of your ponds you're going to bank fish on, really they're kind of void of any major bass holding structure. When we fish the big lakes, you're looking for the ledges, you're looking for the big humps, you're looking for rock piles. When you're fishing these ponds, little nuances can be what holds a lot of bass.
And a lot of things you'll encounter in small ponds is you're going to encounter grass. Sometimes, it can seem kind of overwhelming, because there's so much grass in these small lakes. Look for little things; look for where the grass kind of forms a point. Look for where the grass kind of forms a little dip in the grass. Look for wood in the grass; if there's a lay down that's laying down, anything that's a little bit different than the surrounding area. Try and fish, because there's usually going to be a bass sitting on them.
And what Gene was saying with the fan casting thing, I mean, anywhere in a small pond that you're bank fishing is liable to hold a bass. So hit everything, and as you fish in certain ponds, you'll learn where those bass tend to sit. And you'll have an easier time as you keep going to places and learn it just a little bit more.
Gene: Some of the cover that I like to fish along the bank is like Ryan was saying, little points that the grass creates. When I'm out in the middle of a lake like Lake Guntersville in a boat, I'm looking for a grass line that's not straight. I want a grass line that has all kinds of curves and points in it, because that's the one that's going to have the most active fish in it, because they're going to come out to those points and sit there and wait to ambush whatever is swimming by. And it’s the same thing with the bank. If a bank is just a straight grass line, you may catch one or two fish there, but I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time on there. Another thing I look for is lay downs--you've got trees lying down on the bank. I'm going to work those really carefully.
Oh, something that I forgot to cover that I normally do with bank fishing. This is not what you want to wear bank fishing--bright colors. When I bank fish I actually wear camouflage. I'll have somewhat of a camouflage hat on, something like that, because these fish, I want them to be right here, to make them easy to catch. Because if they're there, they're going to see me. I learned that trick actually trout fishing in Oregon one time with a buddy of mine. And I was absolutely waylaying him on this little bitty creek and I was following him up, and catching everything. I caught six to his one. And then halfway through the day he said, “Gene, what is going on? Why are you catching more fish than me?” And I looked at him and I said, “Trent, it's because you have that white cowboy hat on.” And he did; he had a white cowboy hat on, and I had a green hat on. And I said, “Those trout can see you from a mile away. Just go ahead and hold up an orange flag and scare all the fish away, is basically what you're doing when you wear a red hat like this bank fishing.”
Ryan: Another thing to add to what Gene is saying that's absolutely correct, is you want to wear those neutral colors and kind of blend into your background. I'm not really big into hunting, but I know that.
Gene: I've seen a lot of rednecks.
Ryan: I know a lot of people when they hunt they wear the camouflage to blend into their surroundings. Another thing to add on to what Gene is saying is, as far as your voice goes, it doesn't matter how much noise you make, that's audible. What really is important with bank fishing is walk quietly, walk softly, because those bass that are along the bank, they can feel, their lateral line... When we fish, we throw baits that appeal to their lateral line, Rat-L-Traps, crank baits, spinner baits. They can feel that stuff. Well, they can feel when you're walking. And so, when you come walking down the bank and you're stomping your feet, they know you're there. So walk softly, and that's something that really, when I was younger someone taught me that. And that has been huge for bank fishing, because when you really just have a soft step, they don't know you're there. They have a lot less of a chance of getting spooked off by your footsteps. So just make sure you're . . . you don't have to worry about, just like me and Gene are talking here. You can talk in a regular voice; it's not a big deal. They can't hear that, but they can feel your footsteps. So just make sure, just kind of be stealthy. Well, that's about all I got.
Gene: You got anything else right now, Ryan?
Ryan: Nothing I can think of. You want to talk a little bit about baits? What we throw in ponds?
Gene: Yeah, let's talk about baits.
Ryan: Number one, for me, I don't know about you, but most of the time when I bank fish it's going to be spring through fall. And the two baits that have been the biggest producer for me since I've started bank fishing is I have one rod rigged with a Senko or any style stick bait. You might throw out the Yumdinger. If you want to throw a Cane Stick from Big Bite Baits, their email. When it comes to tournament time personally I like the Gary Yamamoto Senko. But when I'm bank fishing, I'm just there to have fun. Throw out whatever stick bait you want to throw. It doesn't matter. So I have that on my spinning reel.
The other bait that has been massively successful for me is a toad-style bait. I like the Zoom Horny Toad. But the Yum Buzz Frog, there are all sorts of different style toad baits. And even a hollow body works pretty good, but the Senko and the soft plastic frog has been just a two prong attack that has always really worked for me. And I think it has to do with the fact that a lot of these small lakes have grass. What have you found that works best out here?
Gene: Oh, shoot; just whatever you're confident in is the biggest thing. Ryan's got his confidence baits. Mine are, I love a floating worm, something I can work through grass, work through just about anything. And if I need to let it sink, it's going to sink slowly. The same sort of thing is the Senko, just something that can come through cover real easy. I'll throw a spinnerbait a lot if I got a lot of open cover and I feel like they're in the mood to chase something. Spinnerbait is good because it's virtually snag proof, if you know how to fish it right. You don't want to stop it halfway over the top of a stick, because it's going to get hung up every time.
Ryan: A good bait if you are fishing spinnerbaits. I have no affiliation with them, but the Booyah Pond Magic and the War Eagle Finesse Bait; they're two really small spinnerbaits, and as far as numbers go, they're awesome .
One thing I want to add real quick, just to the end of this, is a lot of times you see people bank fishing and they let the fish, when they land a bass, they let it flop all over the grass. Do your best when you hook a bass when you're bank fishing or any fish for that matter to go down close to the water's edge and lift the fish, and bring him up. When you let a fish land in the grass and flop around, it's going to take off his slime coat. When you catch a bass, you can feel the slime coming off his side. That's their protection against infection in the water. And a lot of times when you let a bass flop around on the ground, it'll remove their slime coat and they have a chance of not being able to be able to make it too long when they get back in the water.
So, I realize that sometimes you're going to have a fish that fall out of your hands, or they're going to come up on the bank, drop off the hook, but try your best to hold them right and make sure that they don't get on the ground. Then you can release them and let someone else catch them, and just have a good time. Good luck, guys.
Gene: Yeah. Nothing bothers me more than seeing a picture of a fish laying on the ground next to the rod.
Ryan: The muddy fish.
Gene: The muddy fish. It just drives me nuts.
Like I always say, visit BassResource.com for the answers to all your questions. I'd like to thank Ryan for helping me out with this one. And subscribe to our YouTube channel, and have a great day.
Ryan: See you, guys. Have a good one.