The paragraphs that follow outlineproven tactics many have forgotten or never learned in the first place.
Remember the precise locationswhere you catch, lose or see big bass—the specific stump, the particular bush,etc. A return visit could turn up the lunker you missed, another trophy thatmoved in or a bass that grew bigger after you released it. Use a good lake mapor, better yet, a GPS unit, to mark hotspots in case memory fails.
Don’t Blow a Chance
Don’t lose the bass of a lifetimebecause of avoidable problems: the line was frayed or too light for conditions,the hooks didn’t hold, the drag was too loose or too tight, or the tackle wasinadequate. Regularly run your fishing line between your lips to check forfraying. Cut and retie if necessary. Use the heaviest line suitable forconditions. Use premium hooks, always needle sharp. Always set your dragproperly. Use quality rods and reels.
Set Your DragCorrectly
When setting the drag on your reel, remember you should alwaysdo so by pulling line off the end of the rod, not directly off the reel’sspool. That will give you the proper tension.
Big bass become evasive whenpeople and boats are swarming. You’ll catch more if you fish when fewer folks areon the water—weekdays, in winter, at night, etc. Better yet, fish fertilebackcountry bass waters that seldom see other anglers.
Are other anglers zigging? Maybeyou should zag. Fish become conditioned to certain lures and presentations, andyou may catch more lunkers by trying something unconventional—a big live shinerinstead of artificials, for example, or a new lure or presentation that hasn’tcaught on yet. Give a musky lure a try, or a big saltwater lure. Be openminded. Experiment.
Watch for Isolated Underwater Cover
Larger bass often use isolatedunderwater logs, treetops, etc. instead of visible cover pounded by moreanglers. The hotspots usually are near deeper water, where big bass can simplymove deeper when feeling threatened.
Eliminating live bait from yourlist of options significantly reduces your chance of catching bass in somewaters, particularly lakes that receive heavy fishing pressure. Where legal,natural baits such as crayfish, shiners, frogs and waterdogs may enticelargemouths when all else fails. The bigger the bait, the better your chancesfor catching a trophy.
Which Size Worm?
The most popular plastic wormsizes are 4, 5, 6 and 7-1/2 inches, but much smaller and much larger versionsare also available. In most instances, smaller worms are used in clear or coldwater, or for more wary bass, and larger worms are used in murky water or whenthe angler is after really big fish. In places where bass have been poundeddaily with worms and other lures, switching to smaller sizes and lighter-testline will often do the trick. But in some cases, going the opposite way may beeven more productive.
Plastic lizards and salamanders work best in spring whenbass come shallow to spawn. One reason is that bass regard salamanders as athreat to their eggs. Sometimes a bass will dart 6 or 8 feet away from its nestto hit a plastic lizard, even when a worm tossed into the nest draws only acursory response. Rig Texas style, and fish the lure slowly, as if the creatureis sneaking along the bottom like a predatory egg-gobbler. In summer, you canfish more actively, using a series of short hops around timber. Or rig themweightless to swim over the surface of weed beds.
Cast Into the Wind
When using topwater plugs or shallow-running lures,cast into the wind and retrieve in the direction the wind is blowing. Big bassare particularly attuned to the naturalness of a lure’s action, and thisretrieve better mimics moving baitfish pushed to the surface by predators.
Cast from Near orFar?
Bass may change positions within a particular piece of coverthroughout the day, a fact that should help you decide how close you need to beto your casting targets. For example, when the sun is high and bright, a bassmay move deep on the cover, and you’ll do better flipping a lure from nearby.But during low-light hours near dawn, it will move closer to the surface andsuspend where it’s easily spooked. That’s when you need to back off and makelonger casts.
When bass seem inactive, try zipping a lure past them at ahigh speed. This often triggers reaction strikes.
Bed Fishing Trick
If you can’t coax a strike from a bass seen finning over itsspawning bed, it may be because the fish can see you. Try this trick. Place astick in the water near the bed and leave the vicinity. Return later and cast tothe stick from a distance that won’t disturb the fish.
No Vibration CouldMean “Fish On!”
When fishing a spinnerbait, you should be able to feel theblade vibrating on the retrieve. If the vibrations stop, either you’ve pickedup some vegetation or there’s a fish hanging onto your lure. When in doubt,play it safe and set the hook.
Make A Wake
One excellent yet often overlooked method of fishingspinnerbaits is retrieving them just under the surface near dense, shallowcover. Begin the retrieve the instant the lure hits the water, hold the rod tipabove horizontal, and reel fast enough to keep the lure skimming an inch or sobeneath the surface. Strikes are often explosive.
Fishing TopwaterFrogs & Rats
Spinning tackle is superior for fishing most lightweight,floating plastic frogs and rats. Try casting to open spots amid lily pads or inweeds and allow the lure to sit on the water for a minute or so before swimmingit back in slow, short spurts. If the lure is rigged with a weedless hook, itcan be cast onto the pads and then pulled off and swum slowly between them. Keepyour rod tip pointed down, and make all retrieves slow and deliberate.
Jigs can be tipped with a variety ofattractors, including plastic eels, grubs and frogs; variously shaped pork-rindtrailers; and live bait such as minnows and small eels. This enhances the lure’sfish-catching ability under a wide array of conditions.
Catch and Release
Catch and release can increaseyour catch of giant bass. Every time you remove a big bass from the water, youreduce your chance of ever catching a bigger one. To catch a 10, release an 8.Today’s releases are tomorrow catches.