Finding bass is one thing, finding bass bites is a whole different ballgame! Many times, especially with the excellent electronics we have these days, we can find fish. What these fish are may still be difficult to figure out. However, if we find fish, there is a reason they are there, and often bass are involved. Getting them to bite? Not so easy.
Below are some tricks I have learned through the years. I’m sure many anglers already use some of these tactics, but we all tend to forget to get back to the basics at times. It’s important to realize what the bass are telling us. Again, as I have said in the past, I use the K.I.S.S. method (Keep It Simple Stupid). Overthinking can be a fisherman’s worst enemy at times, and this little practice sheet helps me remember not to let my head wrap around things which truly don’t matter when it comes to finding bites.
Finding Bass Bites – Where to Start
Yes, the first key to finding bass bites is finding bass. Let’s break this down first in a few easy steps:
- What time of year am I fishing and where will bass be: deep, shallow, grass, brush, ledge and so on. Once this is determined, I can eliminate a lot of water before I ever launch the boat or go to the local fishing hole and work the banks.
- Remember, don’t force feed while looking for bass; it just will not work. The ‘I know bass are here’ attitude only eats up valuable time and frustrates our pea brains which in turn causes us to make further decisions which continue to be wrong.
- When I see fish on the graph, my first question is, are they bass and are they active? Feeding bass will make a striped pattern on the graph as they attack baitfish. When I see this, I have found bass, and they are biting, time to go to work!
Reaction baits are the best bite finding baits out there. While looking for feeding bass, I can cover a lot of water fast. I prefer spinnerbaits, vibrating jigs and swimbaits to find active bass. When fishing grass beds, I like to use a toad style frog, it’s fast and effective at finding bass in the large mats.
Once anglers find bass, most fail to slow down and capitalize on all the available bites. Now it’s time to pick an area apart with slower presentations. While mopping up all the possible bites, pay attention and learn the area. Take note of all the reasons bass are holding in this area and apply it throughout the lake to find more bites.
Fast moving reaction baits will get the attention of the most aggressive bass around, but they will not catch the majority of bass in the area. Reaction baits are made to find bass, after catching the first bass, slow down and work the area thoroughly with follow-up baits. Anglers should follow up with punching, jigging, worming, or casting Senko type baits Use whatever slow technique bait is favored.
I’ve found bigger bass are below the active bass and food, waiting on slower moving creatures so they do not have to expend the energy for their meal. I have come to find this is especially true when working ledges and log piles. Bigger bass are always hanging below a pod of shad, lurking, waiting for the smaller bass to injure baitfish. As these injured baitfish fall below the school, the bigger bass get their reward for being patient. Being lazy is also true on deep grass beds, the larger bass will sit and wait for the meal. They won’t expend the energy to chase it down in these types of cover. I use heavy jigs to get down to the bottom and work them slowly, painfully slow, but the rewards are usually high.
Steps to finding bass bites:
We’ve found bass holding cover; now we must understand the mood of the bass. Yes, bass most definitely have moods! Anglers who’ve sight fished in the spring can recognize feeding moods. However, in the spring we can see the bass. The mood is not so easily determined during the rest of the year. If bass are in a feeding mood, they are easy to catch. However, the swing between resting and feeding is a brutal one when it comes to catching. Resting bass will eat, but it is on their terms, not ours, and their term are typically slow and easy. At times, dead sticking is the only way to get a bite. There are times when bass just will not hit a moving lure. I have found this true during every season of the year. Another good technique for lethargic bass is drop shotting. The bait just barely moving in front of the bass gives them an effortless meal which is rarely passed up. But, the bait must be in front of the bass for it to work. Many pros have received large checks using the drop shot technique, and it continues to be a great catching technique today.
Through the years, I have found some bass, no matter what is happening around them, just have to be ‘bothered’ into biting. Large bass are usually the ones needing a little extra motivation, something to bring out the natural beast in them. If fishing in an area with bass present and they won’t react to slow moving baits, try hard jerks in presentations. Using a large worm, jig or a favorite slow presentation bait, instead of crawling the bait, work it by jerking up on the rod and letting it fall back down fast; use a heavy weight with this presentation. The heavy weight will do two things, generates a faster fall and helps in detecting strikes on the fall.
Spoons worked along ledges is a killer technique during the summer months on deep river lakes, easy technique to master and very rewarding at the correct times. When I have a school of bass not respond to normal reaction methods, I tie on a big spoon. 4″ minimum and let it float through the school, then jerk it as hard as I can and repeat. Bass will hit it, and they will hit hard. Spoons bring out the beast in bass. I don’t know why, but the strikes are violent almost every time. I was taught this technique by an older gentleman on Pickwick Lake years ago before the spoon craze became what it is today. He made a 10″ spoon hammered out of a flat piece of metal, shined it up and waxed it, drilled a hole in the bottom and put a #2 treble in it. The thing was like throwing a brick, but it consistently caught a lot of bass. The funny thing was, it caught bass from one to six pounds out of the same area, they all hit this spoon. With his old fiberglass rod, it looked like they were bending it backwards on every strike. From then on, I’ve never been on these types of water without my spoons.
Finding bass is only the first step, getting the bites is much more challenging. The main thing to remember is, once bass are found, try many different techniques to get them to bite.
See you on the water!
For more bass finding tips for Lee check out Bass Fishing River Ledges