25 Tips for Bass

Don't miss these bass fishing tips. Find out what to do when fishing is slow, which lures work and where the big one is hiding.

Field & Stream Online Editors

Thick Weeds
Best methods for thick weeds: Slow-retrieve a spinnerbait or shallow-running crankbait over the top of grass that is submerged a few feet. Cast parallel to definable weed edges if possible. Drop a jig, worm, or weedless spoon into lily-pad pockets and focus on channel-like openings. Don't overlook the inside edges of weedbeds, which may be close to shore or less accessible.

Deep Timber
To avoid a lot of hangups when fishing deep timber, fish vertically with a jig or jigging spoon, or with a weedless plastic worm. The key is using an electric motor to stay over the places you're jigging, since drifting changes the line angle and makes it very hard to avoid hooking wood.

2 Lures on 1 Line
Fishing two lures on one line is sometimes good for deep, clear-water fishing, especially if you need to make a vertical presentation. Use a bell sinker as a drop weight, and tie two hooks, several feet apart, directly on the fishing line using a Palomar knot. Rig a soft grub or curly-tailed body on the hook.

Watch Your Lures Closely
Be observant and watch your lures closely during the retrieve. In cold water especially, bass may strike and miss lures. You can often catch such fish with a follow-up effort, using a different lure.

Small Spinner
Sometimes a small spinning blade is important to attract bass by sight or sound. A small spinner attached to the head of a light jig can be very effective in cold water; run a spinning blade ahead of a weedless spoon in moderately thick cover.

Try a Two-Handed Pitch Cast
Conventional overhead or sidearm casts are often not feasible in close quarters and don't provide enough accuracy. Try a two-handed pitch cast. Hold the lure carefully in your left hand, pull on the rod to bring the tip down and give it a slight tip flex, then swing the rod tip up as you let go of the lure, which should head on a low trajectory toward the target.

Additions to Spinnerbaits
Two good additions to spinnerbaits are: (1) a trailer hook, which should always ride up like the main hook and is best in less obstructed water; and (2) a small rattle, which can be placed on the hook shank and is best for lures with low-vibrating willowleaf blades.

Surface Plugs
To get the best action from surface plugs, pay close attention to the angle of your rod. Hold the rod l when the lure is closer to you, high when it is farther away.

Focus On Isolated Features
When fishing for big bass, focus on isolated features, like a stump in the midst of a weedbed. Try an isolated weed clump that is near a more expansive weedbed, deep holes and cavities in weeds, a cluster of tree stumps set apart from the main stand. Larger bass are more likely to hold near these areas, which are prime ambush points.

Small Minnow-Shaped Plug
Many bass anglers never use a Carolina rig for anything but a soft worm. But you can also fish one with a small minnow-shaped plug or shallow-running crankbait, which both float above the bottom and dart like a fish when twitched.

Places to Catch Bass
Top places to catch bass in early spring, before they spawn, are wherever the water warms up quickly. This includes rocks, stumps, and wood, which retain warmth. Work rock and gravel bottoms and riprap shores, and focus especially on flats and in backwaters, sloughs, bays, and coves. Aquatic plants are another good location marker.

**Avoid Being a Noisy Angler **
Avoid being a noisy angler: turn off your outboard far from the fishing grounds; don't overuse your electric motor; ease an anchor or an electric motor into the water; try drifting silently while casting; quietly rummage around in your boat; don't clank on the oars or paddles; don't play music; speak in a soft voice.

Reel Quickly and Apply Pressure
When you set the hook on a bass in the midst of thick weeds, be prepared to reel quickly and apply a lot of pressure to get the fish coming your way and to the surface. You must react quickly, and your tackle has to be up to the task.

A Jig With a Piece of Nightcrawler
Some bass anglers are big on using scented products but frown on natural baits. Try adorning a jig with a piece of nightcrawler, a leech, or even a small minnow. What could smell more natural?

Check Out Creeks and Coves
As big lakes cool in fall, check out creeks and coves, where baitfish may be prominent; start at the mouths and work inward. Also check main-lake points. Use fast-moving lures with sparkle and glitter.

Consider Going to a Smaller Diameter
When bass fishing is tough, consider going to a smaller diameter of line to be less obvious and enhance lure action. Try imitating the most prevalent current natural food in terms of lure size and appearance; fish in places where that food would be.

Look for Irregularities
Look for irregularities when fishing weeds. Focus on edges, points, pockets, holes, and the tops of such areas, using a surface lure, spinnerbait, plastic worm, or weedless jig as conditions warrant.

Fishing a Fallen Tree
When fishing a fallen tree, you must retrieve your soft worm, weedless jig, or spinnerbait through lanes and parallel to the limbs. Fallen trees in very shallow water are the least productive; the best are those on or near a point.

Work the Area Thoroughly
Don't be in a hurry to move on from a place where you've just caught a bass. Work the area thoroughly and try different lures, especially some retrieved slowly. And remember to return later in the day as well.

Fishing Prominent Pionts
A good way to start out in an unfamiliar large lake is by fishing prominent points. Some bass use points full-time because they offer frequent opportunities to ambush prey. Others pass by them often or leave deep-water haunts to visit points to feed.

True Diving Ability
Although a plug may be classified as a "deep diver," its true diving ability depends on lure design, line diameter, and retrieval speed. To enhance depth, make a fairly long cast, keep your rod tip low, and reel at a moderate pace.

Trolling Slowly
Trolling is anathema to most bass anglers, but when the bass aren't shallow and seem totally turned off (maybe by a cold front), trolling slowly with a deep-diving crankbait can be the ticket to success.

Night Fishing
most prevalent current natural food in terms of lure size and appearance; fish in places where that food would be.

Look for Irregularities
Look for irregularities when fishing weeds. Focus on edges, points, pockets, holes, and the tops of such areas, using a surface lure, spinnerbait, plastic worm, or weedless jig as conditions warrant.

Fishing a Fallen Tree
When fishing a fallen tree, you must retrieve your soft worm, weedless jig, or spinnerbait through lanes and parallel to the limbs. Fallen trees in very shallow water are the least productive; the best are those on or near a point.

Work the Area Thoroughly
Don't be in a hurry to move on from a place where you've just caught a bass. Work the area thoroughly and try different lures, especially some retrieved slowly. And remember to return later in the day as well.

Fishing Prominent Pionts
A good way to start out in an unfamiliar large lake is by fishing prominent points. Some bass use points full-time because they offer frequent opportunities to ambush prey. Others pass by them often or leave deep-water haunts to visit points to feed.

True Diving Ability
Although a plug may be classified as a "deep diver," its true diving ability depends on lure design, line diameter, and retrieval speed. To enhance depth, make a fairly long cast, keep your rod tip low, and reel at a moderate pace.

Trolling Slowly
Trolling is anathema to most bass anglers, but when the bass aren't shallow and seem totally turned off (maybe by a cold front), trolling slowly with a deep-diving crankbait can be the ticket to success.

Night Fishing