Understanding Bass Sign Language

Do you understand bass sign language? If not, you need to learn now! Every bass that you catch is communicating in sign language. Learning to understand these signs will translate into better days on the water and drastically improve your bass fishing success. In fact, this is one of the easiest things you can do to improve your success on the water. Allow me to further explain.

I was fishing a tournament recently and the fishing was not going well, to say the least. I had three hours of fishing time remaining and only two small keepers in the boat. I was frustrated because I had caught fish really well during practice and had high hopes for this particular tournament. During practice I found that the bass were relating to rocks in shallow water (2-5 feet), so that was my focus and strategy going into tournament day.

I was fishing a rocky bank with a shakey head rigged with a V&M Trickster worm. The air temperature was 101 degrees, fatigue was setting in, thoughts of my air-conditioned home and a cold beverage began to enter my mind. However, despite these thoughts, I was determined to keep my nose to the ground and fish hard for the remainder of the tournament. During one of my many unfruitful casts something happened that would change the outcome of the tournament for me.

bass sign language

I casted out to a rocky bank and was working the V&M Trickster back to my BassCat boat when I received a text message. With my rod still cradled in my arms, I pulled my phone out of my pocket and began to reply to the text message. While replying, my boat had drifted a little and left my bait in 10-15 feet of water. About 20 seconds into texting I felt my rod being pulled, so I quickly dropped my phone and looked down to discover that my line was running away. I set the hook and reeled in a two and a half pound bass. I immediately analyzed the signs that were given to me by that fish and by doing so my luck would turn around quickly.

Two key signs were given to me in that scenario that changed my luck. First, I discovered that the fish I was catching in practice had moved deeper and I was fishing too shallow, and second, I was working the presentation too fast. After that catch, I began fishing in 10-15 feet of water and slowed the presentation way down. I would cast the shakey head out, and after shaking it I would kill it for 10-20 seconds. By translating and applying the signs given to me by the bass I was able to catch a five-fish limit, cull three times and take third place in the tournament. For once, I had a reason to thank my wife for texting me while on the water; joking, joking.

Are you listening to the signs of each bass that you catch? The first thing you should do after catching a bass is to quickly analyze the situation. Did you catch the bass deep or shallow? Was your retrieve steady or erratic? Was there vegetation, rocks or wood nearby? Were you near a ledge, a creek, a steep bank or on a flat? Which side of the dock or tree was the fish on? Were you on a wind-blown bank? Was there current present? What time of day was it? What was the water temp? These are just a few of the many examples of the signs you should be analyzing immediately after catching a bass.

Bass can normally be patterned, but their activities and location can change based on their forage, the weather and many other factors. By analyzing and interpreting the signs around each catch, you will be able to catch more bass and pattern them more efficiently. Many novice anglers fail to listen to, or overlook, these simple signs and by doing so they are discounting key pieces of the puzzle in patterning bass.

Give bass sign language a try the next time you are on the water, you will be glad you did! As an added bonus, you will be able to list on a resume that you understand two languages. Well maybe not, but it’s worth a shot.

See you on the water. Go Vols!


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