How to Catch Bigger Bass More Frequently

Introduction: Setting the Stage for Monster Bass Fishing

Fishing for bass is not just a pastime; it’s a pursuit that requires skill, patience, and knowledge. But what does it take to transition from catching average-sized bass to landing the big ones? This guide dives deep into the techniques and strategies that can help you catch larger bass. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, understanding these elements will significantly enhance your fishing game.

Successfully catching trophy bass boils down to mastering a few critical areas. Here’s a concise summary of the essential strategies:

  • Geography Matters: Research and target renowned big bass locations like Lake Fork in Texas, Clear Lake in California, or Lake St. Clair in Michigan. These hotspots are known for producing large bass.
  • Understanding Bass Locations: In the water column, fish near the surface in the early morning or late evening. During the day, focus on mid-depths or near the bottom where big bass retreat for cooler temperatures and cover.
  • Gear Up Appropriately: Use heavy-action rods for better control and baitcasting reels for precision. Opt for durable lines like braided or fluorocarbon to handle the tough fights.
  • Choose the Right Bait and Lures: Soft plastics rigged weedless are excellent for navigating through heavy cover. Employ jigs and crankbaits for deeper water fishing. Don’t forget topwater lures for thrilling early morning and late evening bites.
  • Timing Your Fishing: Time your trips during seasons and times of day when bass are most active. Spring and fall are ideal, especially during early morning and late evening. Keep an eye on the weather patterns and barometric pressure changes for increased activity.
  • Advanced Techniques: Familiarize yourself with techniques like flipping, pitching, and using topwater lures effectively. Adapt and experiment with different tactics to see what works best in your chosen fishing environment.

Understanding Bass: A Look Through History

To catch bigger bass, it’s essential to understand them. The evolution of bass tells a story of adaptability and survival that directly impacts their behavior today. Bass have been around for millions of years, adapting to various environments and predation pressures. This history has made them the crafty and elusive targets they are today. Knowing the evolutionary history of bass helps anglers predict behavior patterns, making it easier to target larger specimens. For example, some bass have evolved to have “Large Mouths” hence the name largemouth bass. They will literally consume anything that will fit in their huge mouths ranging from insects all the way to frogs and larger bait fish. It’s important to try and imitate these baits when targeting that monster bass.

Locating the Giants: Where to Find Big Bass in North America

Big bass lurk in specific environments that support their needs for food, shelter, and breeding grounds. Geographically, some of the best places in the United States and Canada to find large bass include renowned bass havens like Lake Fork in Texas, Clear Lake in California, and Lake St. Clair in Michigan. In these areas, big bass often reside in parts of lakes, rivers, or ponds where the water column offers deep and shallow retreats, abundant vegetation, and submerged structures like logs and trees. Visibility of the water also plays a crucial role, as murkier waters can sometimes hide the bigger fish, waiting to strike unsuspecting prey.

Monster Bass

Timing Is Everything: When to Fish for Bigger Bass

The timing of your fishing expeditions can greatly impact your success in catching bigger bass. The best seasons are spring and fall, when bass are most actively feeding during spawning and pre-winter fattening. Time of day also matters, with dawn and dusk being prime times for bass activity. Additionally, barometric pressure influences bass behavior, with many anglers noting increased activity before a storm. Understanding the spawning cycles and general behavior during different times of the year can significantly increase your chances of a successful catch. Starting around February (especially more south), bass will gorge themselves in preparation for spawning. This will continue through the Spring and bass during this time will hit almost any bait offered near their spawning beds.

Understanding the Water Column

Finding a massive bass in the water column requires understanding where these fish prefer to spend their time based on factors like water temperature, available food, and cover. Here’s a breakdown of where you might find big bass in the water column:

Surface Layer (Topwater)

Early in the morning or late in the evening, especially during warmer months, big bass can often be found near the surface. They are attracted to the top layer to feed on insects, smaller fish, and amphibians. Topwater lures like poppers or buzzbaits can be effective during these times.

Mid-Water Column

During the day, especially when the sun is high, bass tend to move away from the surface to avoid bright light and predators from above. In this zone, they might be suspended midway in the water, particularly in deeper lakes or reservoirs. Techniques like crankbaits or spinnerbaits that can be fished at varying depths are useful here. My go to when that sun is beaming from above is a deep diving crankbait such as the Strike King. It gets deep enough in the water column and creates enough commotion which have lead to some massive bites in the past.

Bottom Layer

Large bass often stay near the bottom where they can find cooler temperatures and more oxygen, especially in hotter weather. The bottom also offers plenty of cover in the form of submerged structures, vegetation, and natural contours of the lake or riverbed. Jigs, Texas-rigged plastics, and Carolina rigs are excellent for fishing this layer.

Near Structure

Bass tree

Regardless of depth, big bass love structure, which provides them with ample cover and abundant opportunities to ambush prey. Look for them around submerged trees, logs, rock formations, weed beds, and man-made structures like docks and pilings. Using techniques that allow your lure to get close to or inside these structures can increase your chances of catching a trophy bass.

The Best Equipment to Catch Trophy Bass

When targeting big bass, having the right equipment can make a significant difference in your success rate. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the essential gear, starting with rods and working through to baits and lures.

Choosing a Bass Rod

When you’re aiming to catch big bass, you’ll want a rod that can handle the job. Some things to keep in mind are rod action, rod length, material, and also the type of brand as you will want something durable and reliable. I would stick to brands that are trustworthy such as, Abu Garcia, St. Croix, and Shimano.

Heavy Action Rods

For big bass, a heavy-action rod is crucial. These rods are stiffer and allow more control when pulling large bass away from heavy cover or deep water. They are best for techniques like flipping and pitching. A great tactic that many tournament anglers use is to take a stiff rod and a baitcaster reel and flip frogs into heavy lily pads. Bass will cut right through those lily’s and blow up your lure. Having a stout rod is essential because it is not uncommon to be pulling out weeds along with that fish when hooked.

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Medium-Heavy Rods

Versatile and useful, medium-heavy rods are ideal for a range of techniques, including casting spinnerbaits or using topwater lures. They offer a good balance of sensitivity and backbone. My go to rod for this setup is generally, an Abu Garcia Pro Series casting rod. The feature of the long handle fits snug against the forearm and it is an easy rod to cast all day long.

Bass rod

Rod Length

The length of the rod depends on the type of fishing you’re doing. Shorter rods (around 6 to 7 feet) are great for precision and control in heavy cover, while longer rods (over 7 feet) provide better casting distance and leverage, which is helpful in open water scenarios.

Choosing a Reel

When pairing a reel with your rod it is important to keep a couple of things in mind as well. Traits of a good reel include: high gear ratio, a good drag system, durability and build quality (specifically metal not plastic), and spool size. Having that extra room for line can help on a bass that is peeling line. Recommended brands include: Shimano, Daiwa, and Lew’s.

Baitcasting Reels

Bass Baitcasting Reel

Preferred for their strength and precision, baitcasting reels are ideal for heavy lines and lures. They offer better control for techniques that require precise lure placement and are robust enough to handle big fish. A 150-200 size baitcasting reel should get the job done, however, do not be opposed to going with a 300 size. These reels are easily capable of landing larger fish such as big northerns, Muskie, and catfish. A great reel for this task would be something like the Shimano Curado 200, a reliable, sturdy enough reel to get the job done.

Spinning Reels

Diawa Reel

While less common for huge bass, spinning reels are suitable for finesse techniques and lighter baits. They are easier to use for beginners and work well with lighter lines. A 5000-7000 series reel should be the sweet spot for landing a record bass. A reel I recommend if you want to go the spinning route would be the Diawa LT 6000 Spinning reel. It comes at a fair price that will not break the bank, but is also high quality for the price point.

Sorting through Lines and Leaders

The line and leader might be the most important part of the whole setup. The fish does not care about how much money you spend on a rod and reel. Failure to pay close attention to key features of a good line and leader results in no fish! Some things to keep in mind when it comes to line and leader include: abrasion resistance, the knots you tie ( I would go with a palomar or improved clinch knot to my hook or lure), and line diameter.

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Braided Line

Strong and durable, braided line is a top choice for bass fishing, especially in areas with heavy vegetation. It has no stretch, which provides excellent sensitivity for detecting bites. The size of the braided line can vary. I would recommend 25-65 pound braid depending on the type of fishing that is taking place. This seems like some extremely heavy line for this kind of fish but it is not uncommon to have to pull a monster bass from a log, stump, or some kind of vegetation.

An Extra Tip on Braid

Braided lines are typically sold in either 4x or 8x. When comparing 4x and 8x braided fishing lines, the main difference lies in the strand count. A 4x braid is constructed from four interwoven strands, making it generally thicker and more robust, which can lead to better abrasion resistance but a coarser feel. On the other hand, an 8x braid uses eight strands, resulting in a smoother, more flexible line that allows for quieter casting and potentially greater casting distance. Tailor which one you choose based on whether you are targeting that bass in open water or pulling them up past hazards and other obstacles.

Fluorocarbon

Known for its invisibility underwater and good abrasion resistance, fluorocarbon is great for clear water conditions. It has a little stretch, offering good hook-setting power. Fluorocarbon can be attached to braid to ensure the trophy fish does not break off when being pulled from different hazards. Use anywhere from 17-30 pound test and combine the two using an FG Knot.

Choosing a Hook

For trophy bass, larger hooks in the 4/0 to 6/0 range are common. The hook should be large enough to securely set in the bass’s mouth but not so big as to hinder the natural movement of the bait. Additionally, A sharp hook is critical for ensuring proper hook penetration. Trophy bass have tougher mouths, and a sharp point helps in piercing effectively. Regularly check and sharpen your hooks, or replace them as needed.

Worm Hooks

For soft plastics, worm hooks, particularly those with a wide gap, are ideal. They provide good hook penetration and hold, which is essential for setting the hook in a big bass’s mouth.

Treble Hooks

Often used on crankbaits and other hard lures, treble hooks offer multiple points of contact, increasing the chances of a hookup when a bass strikes the lure.

Lures and Baits

Big Bass will hit a variety of different lures and bait depending on the time of the season. Their behavioral patterns tend to change depending on the time of the day as well so keep this in mind when making a selection.

  1. Soft Plastics: Worms, craws, and creature baits are perfect for enticing big bass. Rigged weedless, they can be worked through heavy cover where big bass hide.
  2. Crankbaits: Effective for covering a lot of water, crankbaits can dive deep and come in forms that mimic baitfish and crawfish, staples in the bass diet.
  3. Topwater Lures: For explosive surface action, especially in the early morning or late evening, topwater lures like frogs, poppers, and buzzbaits are thrilling and effective.
  4. Jigs: Perhaps the most versatile bass lure, jigs can be used in almost any conditions and are particularly effective for fishing in deeper water or heavy cover.
  5. Live Bait: For those who prefer live bait, nightcrawlers, minnows, and occasionally crayfish can be very effective, especially for smaller or more cautious bass. However, when targeting trophy bass, artificial lures often provide the size and action needed to attract larger fish.

Conclusion

Catching bigger bass is an exciting challenge that requires a blend of knowledge, right timing, and proper gear. Remember, understanding the nature of bass, choosing the optimal location and timing, and employing advanced fishing tactics are all crucial for targeting larger bass. With these strategies, you’re not just fishing; you’re mastering the art of angling for the biggest bass in the waters. So, gear up, use these tips, and get ready to make your next big catch!

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