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Best of 2023: Most Popular Bass-Fishing Stories on Game & Fish

These articles on fishing for largemouth bass helped our users catch fish all year long.

Best of 2023: Most Popular Bass-Fishing Stories on Game & Fish

Re-visit these articles to help you catch more bass in 2024. (Shutterstock image)

Bass anglers chase lunker largemouth all year long, from the spring’s spawn, through the doldrums of summer and into the chilly fall and winter. Game & Fish is with you the whole way—both in print online with in-depth articles, videos and postings that keep you in the game no matter the season.

From how-tos to hot baits, here are the most popular bass-fishing articles (based on overall page views) on in 2023.

Bring on the Night and Catch Bass After Dark

  • If you can't stand another hour of daylight bass fishing, hit the water after sundown. By Ken Duke
bass fishing at night
Points and flats adjacent to deep water are prime locations to target bass when the sun sets. (Photo courtesy of Firefly Marine)

The summer sun can really punish an angler bent on fishing between dawn and dusk. It'll sap your energy, harm your skin (without proper safeguards) and warm the water to the point that fish demand deep shadows or deeper water. It can also bring out water skiers, jet skiers, swimmers and pleasure boaters—all fine people if they would simply stay on the shore.

With so much competition for a placid piece of water and so much need for relief from the heat, the obvious answer is to fish at night. It can also be the correct answer. Here are three questions to determine whether nighttime is the right time on your favorite summertime bass lake:

  • First, is the water clear with two or more feet of visibility?
  • Second, does the lake get a lot of boat traffic?
  • Third, do you want to catch more and bigger bass?

If your answer to each of those three questions is yes, night fishing during summer is the way to go. It takes some getting used to, but night bass action is often much, much better than battling it out under the heat and glare of the sun with dozens or even hundreds of other boaters, all searching for a little bit of vacation fun.


Target Largemouths During the 'Other Spawn’

  • Bass get focused on spawning panfish, creating a feeding frenzy you don't want to miss. By Shane Beilue
bass and swim jig
Go for bulk when imitating bream with a heavy swim jig and meaty soft-plastic trailer. (Photo by Shane Beilue)

Spring is certainly the most anticipated time of year for bass anglers, when rising air and water temperatures drive waves of bass into the shallows to feed and eventually spawn. However, another spawn kicks off in early summer that can lead to a flurry of fast-paced bass action in the shallows: the bluegill spawn.

Bluegill and bream are names often used generically to describe any number of panfish in the sunfish family that are a predominant forage of bass in most Southern reservoirs. Since the spawn of these hand-sized panfish coincides with a time when a large percentage of largemouths remain shallow, understanding how to target bass around the bluegill spawn can pay excellent dividends in early to mid-summer.


3 Senko Rigs that Produce on Tight-Lipped Summer Bass

  • Versatile soft-plastic stickbaits can be adapted for summertime patterns. By Shane Beilue
Ned-rigged Senko
Neko Rig

A resounding "Yes!" was my answer when my college-aged daughter asked if I'd take her fishing during the first week of summer break. Now understand, she might fish one time per year. Therefore, I needed a lure that would give her (and me) the best chance of catching bass with the simplest means possible. The clear choice was the curiously versatile 5-inch soft stick bait.

When Gary Yamamoto introduced the Senko more than two decades ago, he initiated a genre of soft plastics that has likely become the most effective bass-catching worm of all time. The simplicity of its design (based on a ballpoint pen of all things) lends itself to multiple rigging methods that can produce bites when bass simply won't eat other lures. The method that produced multiple spotted bass for my daughter and me that day was the weightless wacky rig, one of three highly effective techniques with a soft stick worm.



A Hot New Way to Catch Pressured Bass in Clear Water

  • The free rig for Western bass is an innovative fishing tactic from Japan. By Shane Beilue
bass lures
The versatile free rig allows anglers to switch from tubes to flukes to crawfish imitations quickly and easily. (Photo by Shane Beilue)

When veteran bass angler Courtney Copley relocated from the East Coast to Arizona, he tried bringing his familiar power tactics for bass with him. While there were occasional windows of time in which the old standbys of bulky jigs and fast-moving spinnerbaits would work, the ultra-clear and heavily pressured waters around his home near Mesa, Ariz., required a change of tactics for consistent success. What would ultimately benefit Copley’s need for change was being refined halfway around the globe by Japanese anglers facing very similar conditions: intense fishing pressure and extremely clear water.

One of those Japanese tactics that made its way to the U.S. market—and eventually into Copley’s bass boat—was the free rig, which involves running the fishing line through a heavy cylinder or bell-shaped drop-shot sinker and tying a worm hook on the terminal end, similar to a Texas-rigged worm.

"The free rig is just a new and better way of the old tried-and-true Texas rig, but the line slides through the wire loop of a heavy drop-shot sinker much easier than a Texas-rigged slip sinker, giving the worm a unique action as it settles behind the heavy weight on slack line," Copley says.


Beilue's Best: Downsized Bass Lures & Trends from ICAST 2023

  • Our "Bass Crash Course" video series host Shane Beilue checks out tackle trends seen at the big fishing trade show.
mini crankbaits
Mini crankbaits, like the GNAT from Bill Lewis Lures, are growing trend in bass fishing for downsixed lures. (Photo by Scott Bernarde)

If you're a fishing-tackle junkie, walking around ICAST 2023, the world's largest sportfishing tradeshow, is like being the proverbial "kid in a candy store."

This is the premier event in the tackle industry where all the manufacturers put their new product releases on display to the public for the first time. Almost every tackle company is here, ranging from legendary household names to small startups with aspirations of becoming the same.

While it's impossible to highlight everything among the hundreds of booths represented at ICAST, it is easy to spot certain tackle trends within bass fishing as tackle manufacturers scramble to fill the demand from anglers like you and me. Clearly, one of the tackle trends at this year's show is to downsize the profiles of popular designs from the past.

Without a doubt, small 3- to 4-inch swimbaits designed to fall horizontally through the water column on forward-facing sonar are trending up with a lot of tackle manufacturers.


Catch More Early Summer Bass By Just Doing 'Nothing’

  • The slider rig was one of the first finesse techniques ever introduced to the fishing public and remains a prolific bass catcher. By Ken Duke
fishing rod and bait held in hands
The forgotten slider rig is your ticket to landing finicky bass. (Photo by Brad Richardson)

Early summer can be a tricky time for catching bass. Spring has mostly come and gone and it's not yet summer. Bass aren't hanging around the spawning grounds anymore, but they're not settled into their deep-water summertime haunts yet either.

True, there's often a morning topwater bite—and that's a blast—but once the sun gets up that bite tends to disappear, and the bass often disappear with it. Many fish will suspend off main-lake and secondary points, hold in the shade of deep boat docks and marinas or wait listlessly next to bluff walls or other sharp drops. Now is the time to do nothing.


Bass Crash Course: How to Properly Tune a Baitcaster

  • Avoid backlashes by making simple adjustments to your reel and matching your lures to your rod's power and action. By Shane Beilue

The baitcasting reel is the foundational piece of equipment in bass fishing, yet it often causes the most consternation among new anglers due to the possibility of backlashing the line into a dreaded "bird's nest." However, a basic understanding of properly setting and adjusting both the reel tension knob and the reel brake will have you quickly advancing to mastering the baitcasting reel.

The baitcaster is the preferred reel in bass fishing for a few reasons. Among them, it offers improved accuracy and softer lure entry over a spinning reel due to the ability to "thumb" the spool as the lure nears the water. While a spinning reel offers the ability to better handle lighter lines used with smaller lures of less than 1/4 ounce, a baitcasting reel can better handle the heavier lines and lures that are often used when fishing for bass. Additionally, the greater amount of line picked up with each turn of a baitcasting reel's handle makes it more efficient than a spinning reel when retrieving fast-moving lures such as crankbaits, buzzbaits and spinnerbaits.


Play Dead to Entice Tight-Lipped Winter Bass

  • A dead-stick approach may be your best bet when waters cool and bass grow lethargic. By Glenn Walker
bass angler casting
Cast past fish-holding areas and slowly drag a C-rig back along bottom with a sideways sweep. Deep water adjacent to riprap is a good spot to employ this tactic. (Photo courtesy of Tyler Mohr/Providence Marketing Group)

There's a time and place for fishing fast and a time and place for fishing slow. Fishing slow can mean several things. It might mean slow-rolling a spinnerbait or working a jig in a painstakingly slow fashion. It may even entail dead-sticking—aka soaking—your bait for tight-lipped bass.

Dead-sticking is a presentation that shines when the water is very clear, when bass have been heavily pressured, when fish are inactive or when water temperatures start dropping. In all these cases, and especially with late fall’s plummeting temperatures, bass may not be actively feeding as often as they were even a month ago.

When bass are inactive or simply waiting for that prime opportunity to feed, they'll sit behind whatever fish-holding structure they have available. Then, when an opportunity to ambush an easy meal arrives, they'll strike. That could mean current washing an injured baitfish by their face or, ideally, your bait properly presented for the right amount of time.


Make Your Own Soft-Plastic Bass Lures

  • Things to keep in mind if you want to make plastic worms in the backyard, workshop, or garage. By Lynn Burkhead
Backyard Ready Lure Making
Shutterstock image

Some anglers love the idea of turning out their own custom-made soft-plastic lures of various shapes, colors, and sizes. Because in the end, while it may or may not be less expensive than store-bought varieties in these tough economic times, it can be extra rewarding and satisfying when you hold up a lunker caught on a lure you’ve made yourself.


4 Quick Tips to Catch Bass on New Waters

  • Check out these suggestions for your first trip to an unfamiliar lake. By Josh Honeycutt
largemouth bass
Ways to minimize your learn curve when planning a fishing trip to a new lake. (Shutterstock image)

Finding fish on a lake you'e visiting for the first time can be a tough assignment, especially if the conditions aren’t similar to those you encounter on the lakes you frequently fish.

This can be especially true when you travel farther and farther away from your home waters. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize the learning curve.

Eric Roberts, fisheries management bureau chief for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, fields lots of questions each year from anglers planning fishing trips to Big Sky Country.


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