“Sneaking up on a bass- what’s this boy TALKIN’ about?”
Well, I guess I can understand if someone would ask that question. I mean, I’ve heard of “sneaking” up on a Whitetail Deer, and that makes plenty of sense. But a bass? I mean, he’s under all of that water, so it’s not like he sees us, right? Yeah? Huh.
Well, a very interesting point could be made that water transmits sound better and faster than air does (because water is so much denser than air). Now there’s a lot of science behind all of this, but since we are bass fishermen and not scientists, we won’t confuse the issue. It just is what it is. And while some lower pitch noises we might make may be even less definable in water than air (lighter sounds have a harder time getting “started” in that denser water) the higher pitch and louder noises are most definitely being heard by our quarry. And sometimes those bass don’t like it. And that makes it hard to “sneak” up on a bass that hears you coming.
Bass can hear and may respond negatively to sounds, especially if they are foreign and could be perceived as a threat. Dropping things in a boat makes ME cringe- it can be horrible in a good fishing hole. Stomping around on the shoreline is a guaranteed great way to go fishless.
I can even clap my hands sharply together and watch a school of shad respond, even if they can’t see me do it. And these are shad that are ten or more feet away from the boat. It’s a little scary if you think about it.
So the answer to this noise issue, and scaring off all of those big old bass is to Just Be Quiet. Be stealthy. Watch your movements and be more careful in what you do. Cover floors, decks or whatever in your boat or kayak with noise-absorbing materials like carpet or rubber. It works. And pick your steps a little more carefully if you are bassin’ from the bank.
And while this noise thing is most important in close quarters and shallower water, I try to be quiet no matter how deep the water is. I’ve personally several times seen a school of bass not only turn off, but move locations following an unexpected noise event. I’m talking about bass in twenty-five or more feet of water. Believe it.
Be stealthy. Be SNEAKY.
Of course, a bass’ abilities to both hear and feel vibrations (noise) is not the only issue we have when it comes to being sneaky. Those little green and brown monsters can SEE too. They can see really, really well, and unlike humans they can see ABOVE the water when looking from below.
Maybe more important than them actually seeing me (although I could understand where my ugly mug could put them off their feed for a few hours, or days) is them seeing a SHADOW of me. I take special precautions to keep the sun in my face as much as possible, especially once again when I am one-on-one with them in skinny water. But even a school of bass in deeper water, when I’m fishing more vertical over them, can be susceptible to the boats’ shadow overhead. If you just try to keep that sun in your face I know you’ll see a difference in your catch.
And then there’s bank fishing. And when bass in smaller waters get spooky, you quickly learn that sneaking up on them is the ONLY way to get the job done. In particular, casting can cause a lot of visual problems. I’ve found that underhanded casts, or sidearm approaches for longer distances can make a hug difference in my catches. If you’re spooking any kind of fish on that overhand launch, then scale it back some. And just as in a boat on a large reservoir, approaching the shoreline with that sun in your face can be a deal maker.
Bass are wild animals, just like those deer and turkey that we may try to “sneak” up on. Treat them as such- give them room and be cautious. Don’t let them know that you are coming, and the bass will be easier to catch. And maybe most importantly of all, those larger bass, who are even more wary of danger, will become easier to catch, and with more regularity. This is probably my biggest “secret” to catching numbers of larger bass.
I SNEAK up on ’em.
See you on the water,
Disclaimer: “Bass Fishing For Dummies” is not meant to be condescending in any way. What it’s meant to signify more than anything is a simplification of your approach to catching more bass. And while this is easily aimed at the beginning bass angler, I also believe that it behooves ALL of us to take a step back sometimes and take a look at what we’re doing and how we approach this great sport. I hope that these articles will help someone in their bass fishing endeavors. Good luck!