When I first started bass fishing, I didn't have anyone to teach me. So I spent a lot of time experimenting with new lures and techniques. But soon, I was catching big bass! In this article, I outline the trials and tribulations I encountered as a beginning bass angler, hoping to benefit new fishermen who read this.
When choosing a good setup to start fishing for bass, I found smaller is not always better. I started with an Ultra-light 5-foot spinning rod with an ultra-light spinning reel. When I hooked my first bass, I hardly got the hook in him. This defeats the objective of catching bass because you lose a lot of fish!
I then moved to a Lew's 7-foot medium-heavy spinning rod and a Lew's size 2000 spinning reel. This was more like it. I had more hook-setting power and control of the fish during the fight and learned to feel the bite. I found 6- to 8-pound test Seaguar Invizx line to be the best for casting and had extra strength to handle the shock from setting the hook.
Beginning bass anglers can fight a one-pounder and feel the thrill of catching bass with these outfits. This gives you valuable experience learning how a bass moves and reacts after setting the hook.
Don't expect to start laying into some five-plus pound bass. Start small and then get bigger. That's my advice. They will come with time. Start out seeking smaller fish and gain experience in the fight. You learn how to handle the mighty bass this way because you will need it when tackling the monsters.
Going out and buying all the tackle in the store is unnecessary when beginning bass fishing. You can start with the necessities, and that's all you will need for now.
Select a few crankbaits. The Strike King crankbaits are the best in price, and they catch fish. You will need a shallow diver and a deep diver. Two colors of each are fine. Bass are not too picky when it comes to color. Find a natural-looking one that resembles baitfish and select a bright shocker one. These represent the two extremes and work well.
Next, select a few spinnerbaits. There are wide varieties, but I found the 3/8-ounce Strike King spinnerbaits to be the best. Go for natural and then some shocking colors, both with gold blades. They work best in all conditions.
Select some plastic worms. I call this the patient bait because you often fish for longer before landing a bass. Going for natural colors has served me well. Ensure you go through the entire selection, especially the green pumpkin and watermelon red seed colors.
Where To Fish First
You never jump into the pool's deep end; you start in the shallows and make your way into deeper water. I used this principle and started in small ponds and not big Lakes. You generally catch smaller fish, but it is the perfect practice ground and will provide you with experience with these fish.
Where To Find Fish
This was the first question I asked myself, but I was not completely alone. My brother had some bass experience in South Africa, and he gave me a couple of ideas. The best way to look at it is that bass always play hide and seek. You have to look for them, and when you find them, you will catch them. Obvious places are boat docks, structures, and any obstacles in the water. Bass love to hide in these places so try there first. If you are unsuccessful, look for areas where the water or the plants change. Where rocks become sand or weeds become a hydrilla is a good place. If this fails, then try anywhere. I have landed a couple of fish just trying in any area. Fishing is part of luck, so let luck give you a chance.
Picture yourself as a fish and ask, where would I hide? This will give you great success. I don't believe any fisherman can say precisely where the bass are, so try and try, and you will catch fish.
Methods Of Catching Bass
How do you catch bass for beginners? My favorite and most successful method is the crankbait. Others will argue, but I love crankbaits. I have fished all other baits and lures, but crankbaits have helped me catch the most fish. It is a simple means of fishing that requires minimal skill. This suits a beginner fine and provides him with the confidence to fish.
Fishing mostly with crankbaits has provided me with plenty of experience. Here are some tips:
- The simple throwing and retrieving method can become monotonous and boring, so I played with the crankbait in the water. I did this by varying its speed and how deep it goes by reeling faster or lowering or raising the pole. I found that the bass preferred a regular steady retrieve with no sudden movements in calm, clear water, and in choppy or murky water; they loved an irregular, fast, and slow retrieve. You must also experiment with this and see what suits you.
- Bass love colorful lures, and they seem to hit them more often. I think these lures bother them, so they get mad and attack. I find that casting over and over into an area with bass always produces an attack. They don't like the lures bothering them.
- Using bait scent has consistently improved the strikes, and I believe in them.
- When you fish with these lures, always make them look natural in the water and make the bass come after them. You can make them swim as realistically as possible by varying your retrieve speed and imparting occasional pauses. This can be frustrating, but you will catch big fish if you get the skill. And believe me, practice makes perfect.
- I have found that using bright-colored lures in muddy water and more natural ones in clear water works well. My biggest bass hit a bright yellow and white crankbait in dark water. He was the area bully because the bigger bass always seemed to grab these lures.
- Bumping these lures against objects in the water attracts fish, but you risk getting the lure stuck. This will cause many terrible words to come from your mouth and could cost you money. Be careful where you throw, or you will lose your lure. Getting lures into little places is difficult, so keep practicing it, and you will get it right.
This lure is also a great fish catcher but needs more skill. This doesn't grab us beginners, so I don't use it too much. I found that I was losing fish hitting the blades and not the jig with the hook. This didn't go down well and forced me to hate them. But I kept at it, and now I can catch fish with them.
The variety of spinnerbaits is endless but stick with the bright colors. When reeling these lures back, I found that keeping it just under the water's surface worked best because the bass was attracted by the wake it created in the water. Once a fish has taken the lure, strike hard and set the hook because they spit it out when they realize it's not a natural baitfish.
The Plastic Worm
This is a good lure and represents the most edible and tasty meal -- a worm. This type of fishing requires a lot of patience and skill, which can cause you to dislike it at first. But some days, a bass will love a worm. I found irregular movements in the water caught more bass. A slow presentation is usually best, but sometimes the wilder the worm went, the more the bass loved it.
Once the bass takes the worm, don't strike! Let him swim away with it and then strike. This isn't easy because you want to catch him when he takes the worm, but patience is the best way. Bigger bass are not too easily fooled by worms, so making them look natural using a slow lift-and-drop retrieve will work. I say that the bigger the bass, the wiser the bass.
Bass fishing is a learning sport, and no one knows it all. Ask questions, and don't be limited by your own opinions. Try all techniques and experiment with things. You will find something that works for you, and maybe you can help someone else. Go fishing often, and you will learn. Early morning and late afternoon fishing proved to be the most successful.
See you out on the lakes!
Donovan lives in South Africa and recently became hooked on bass fishing while on vacation in the USA. With his newfound passion, he learned as much as possible about the sport, talking to every angler he encountered to get information. Within a few months, he caught numerous 8- to 10-pound bass.