There aren’t too many parts of America where bass cannot be found in one form or another. If you’re into fishing, chances are you’ll chase bass at some point. The good news is that there are few fish more fun to drag in the boat. The bad news is that they have a habit of driving anglers mad and making grown fishermen cry. Here are a few essential tips to keep you from losing it the first few times out.

1. Live Bait

Stuff like minnows, shad, or shiners is just the stuff for bass. Use a respectable-sized hook and make sure they’re still flopping when you cast. A nice live minnow will do the work of a much more expensive bait all darn day. Sometimes, you can even squeeze more than one catch out of them. Buy whatever is cheap and pat yourself on the back for being thrifty.

2. Fish in April

This is when the bass are biggest. Elk are peaking in November, birds are smartest in December, and bass top out in April. Now, don’t go thinking it’s because they’re all born at the same time and destined to die at the same time. Spawning begins in April and that activity makes bass swell up. It won’t get you any extra food on your plate, but it might help you set a record.

3. Use Beaten Worms

Bass have a habit of sort of picking on what they find injured in the water. They go nuts at the sight of a beaten down critter like a worm that’s seen better days. Just don’t overdo it — they like stuff to still be alive. They just don’t like it to be a challenge.

4. Spinner Baits

This is what you want to go with when there’s cover around like stumps or old stands of submerged timber. Get a colorful spinner and keep it moving. Keep after it for a while and you’ll be amazed at how well it works once you get your technique down. Just don’t let it get hung up; spinner baits are expensive.

5. Color the Mud

Bass are eternally picky sometimes. If the water is clear, you’re going to want to go with lighter-colored baits. If it’s muddy, bring out the stuff that looks like you got it from a circus clown. Nobody can say why the bright stuff doesn’t work on them that much better in clear water, but it pays to switch out your equipment.

6. You Don’t Need a Bass Boat

Yeah, we’ll grant you, a boat is nice, but a lot of bass get caught from the shore, too. The trick, most of the time, is to be willing to press off into spots that don’t see a lot of action from other anglers. The swampier, brushier, and buggier, the better.

7. Find Their Food

You can spend all day looking for bass with your fish finder, or you can keep an eye out for what bass eat. Bass are predatory fish. If there are bream or shad in the vicinity, the bass aren’t far behind. Once you find their food source, all you need to do is trick them into trying something new.

8. Go at Night

Yeah, the best time to catch a big bass is at night. Of course, it’s also the most inconvenient for most people. You’ll want to use bait the bass can smell and pick a spot that people usually hit during the day. There’ll be less competition at night, and maybe you can sneak one past a grand old lunker.

A boat on a lake at sunrise

Image credits: Quang Le via Pixabay

9. Stay Shallow in the Morning

If the sun isn’t up all the way yet, keep your bait close to the top of the water. Find some cover and keep your bait moving. as the day goes on and the water heats up, the topwater isn’t worth a darn, but there’s a short period early when it’s dynamite. Keep trying until you get a feel for it.

10. Harder is Sometimes Better

If there’s a lot of competition on a lake or it seems like everyone but you is catching fish, that’s rough. Keep in mind, it may mean that the bass in the lake has been worked over to the point that only the giants have survived. When you do feel a hit on your line, it’ll be a good one.

If you’re new to bass fishing, you need to understand that the popularity of the sport, and the commonality of catch and release fishing, have changed a few things in recent times. Some bass are literally trained to get caught and get thrown back, these days. Others, the big ones you’re shopping for, won’t bite on a thing. Don’t get discouraged; every dog has his day, and you will, too.