When I go out fishing on the lake, I often remember a game my mother taught us, and I played with my sons. You get down on your hands and knees behind a door and wait until someone walks by, lunge out and say "gotcha!" The reason I am telling you this is, bass do this all of their lives.
Bass are predators. I realize you have read and heard this many times, however, when you are fishing do you remember this fact? Take your boat into a cove and study the cover. Normally you will see grass, tree stumps, laydowns, small water ditches on the land leading into the water, or perhaps a combination of any of these and other types of structure. If you watch your depth finder, you may find a creek bed going into the cove. Where will you start fishing and why?
My point is, think about where and why you want to cast your bait into or around a certain type of structure. Would the bass be waiting for a meal on the side, back, or front of a tree stump? If there is a current moving to the shoreline, try fishing your bait parallel to or toward the shoreline, because the bass will be waiting on the back or side of that stump for the incoming food.
Bass are lazy, unless it is the late spring or fall of the year when they are on a feeding spree, and do not want to chase their meal very far. Make it easy for them to take your bait.
Once you have caught a bass in the cove, stop for a moment and think about how you presented the bait and where the bass was located. Remember the color of the bass you caught, if you are not sure exactly what type of cover the bass was near. Yes, bass do change color depending upon their surroundings. You will notice how very dark-colored the heavy grass-oriented bass look verses the creek bottom lighter-colored bass or dock gray-colored bass. Once you have determined what type of structure the bass are around, concentrate on casting to those places in the cove. Your fishing results should increase per cast.
When you fish deep grass beds look for the indentations and fish the points of the "V". Hungry bass should be waiting just inside these points for their next meal. Shoreline grass fishing can be frustrating or a boon. Try fishing the outside edge first, again looking for unusual spots, such as indentations, a tree limb laying just inside the grass line, or perhaps a fence post. Anything that a bass can feel secure from other predators and still be in position to inhale the next meal that comes past it is worth casting to. If fishing the outside edge does not produce bass, cast your bait to the inside edge and work the bait slowly back to the boat. The inside edges of grass have similar areas as the outside edge, so concentrate on them.
Creek bed bass like cover, too. On a rainy day, watch how the water flows on the ground. It will take the path of least resistance. In other words, twist one way, then flow another. Underwater creek beds look just like that stream you watched on the ground. Bass find some type of cover, i.e. tree limb, trash build up, tree stump on the inside curve or the twist of a creek bed to set up their home. Watch your electronic screen for those inside bends in the creek and fish only those areas. Your larger bass catch (and release) should improve if you try these tactics the next time you fish a creek bed.
We all know docks will hold fish. The older the dock, the more likely you will find fish under or next to the pilings. Why older docks? The algae has had the time to grow on the pilings and bait fish eat the algae. Bass eat the baitfish, so look for older docks and fish them. Sometimes you will find bass under the walkway behind the dock. I had a lady tell me it's because the bass think you won't look for them there. For whatever reason, bass have and will always be caught next to the dock in the back.
Some of you may have tried fishing a Zara Spook and found it to be frustrating. The bait is supposed to move like a snake in the water, occasionally stopping and lifting its head. A friend of mine explained how she fishes this bait, so I thought I'd pass it to you. Move your rod tip side to side to the rhythm of that Sunday school song "Jesus Loves Me." I tried this method and it worked for me, perhaps it will for you.
My last tip for you to think about and perhaps use this spring comes from Becky Mouser. Tired of cold sandwiches for lunch in the boat? Fill a large mouth thermos with hot water, put a few hot dogs in the water and seal it with the thermos lid. Put butter or margarine on the hot dog bun because these spreads do not cause the bun to get mushy after an hour of sitting. You'll have a nice hot lunch this spring.
May this year bring you memorable fishing times with your children or grandchildren, and a replica of your largest bass.