Dealing with bass anglers from all walks of life, one of the questions I hear often is how one goes about securing good info on an unfamiliar body of water if, say, you’re going on vacation and pulling your boat. There’s no 1-800-DIAL-A-BASS hotline, and even if there was, I could pretty much guarantee it would be bogus info. You could check out some online threads, but I’ll save you time by saying most of what’s posted is vague or not very accurate. There are tons of guides out there that do a great job of posting reports, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s in their best interest to save their real money spots for guide trips. Back in the day, the purchase of 2 crankbaits at the local tackle shop would get you several legit tips about the lake, but sadly, those days are fading, too. So where is the best and most useful info these days? The answer is casual fishermen.
I’ve found that asking the casual fishermen— like a father and son just out and about on the water for a few hours, or a guy and his wife just spending some time together fishing—are the best folks to ask. Your first thought may be that these people aren’t serious about bass, but that’s exactly why they’re going to share legit info with you. You’re not going to need to stalk the people I’m talking about, they’re easy to find and conversation will come naturally and cordially from both parties. And remember, a good conversation goes both ways. After all, you may be able to offer some insight for the next time they go fishing as well.
Don’t ask exactly where they caught fish, because that’s just sleazy. Instead, focus your questions around generally usual info. Where does the bulk of the grass grow? Where do you usually see a water color change? What is considered a big bass for the lake? Those types of questions are not overly imposing, you’ll get the real scoop, and the answers may tell you all you really need to know to be on the right track pattern-wise. Try to get that info out of the guy with the fanciest boat and loudest tourney jersey at the ramp, and you won’t likely get far.