A Few Good Lures
There are thousands of different bass lures on the market, but you only need a few to consistently catch bass. Jigs, spinnerbaits, plastic worms and topwater lures will catch bass wherever these great gamefish swim. Other lures will work, too, but always keep these basic baits in the top drawer of your tacklebox.
Water Temperature and Bass Activity
Bass are cold-blooded creatures, so their activity level is directly related to the temperature of their surroundings. If the water is below 60 degrees, fish slow-moving lures like jigs and plastic worms close to the bottom. In warmer water, faster-moving lures like crankbaits and spinnerbaits fished off the bottom will usually work better.
Which Lure Color Is Best?
Bass can see colors about as well as humans can. In clear water, use realistic lure colors that mimic living prey — silver or gold crankbaits and topwater plugs, black or brown jigs. In murky water, use bright colors that can be easily seen, such as chartreuse crankbaits or white spinnerbaits.
Four Seasons Of Change
Bass often display strong seasonal habitat preferences. In spring, they prefer shallow bays and tributaries protected from cold north winds. In summer, they gravitate to dropoffs, ledges and submerged islands and other offshore structures. In winter, look for them on deep points, sloping banks and channel ledges.
Keep It Moving
When retrieving a weedless lure across the top of lilypads or pond scum, keep it moving at a fairly slow, constant pace. This gives the bass plenty of opportunity to track down the lure. Avoid using a stop-and-go retrieve, for the bass may strike at the lure and miss it.
Flat Crankbaits In Cold Water
A flat-sided crankbait is a great choice in cold water. These lures don't vibrate as hard as a rounded crankbait, making them better suited to sluggish bass. In early spring, many bass pros fish 'em around shallow logs and stumps, the same places you'd normally fish a spinnerbait.
The Slack-Line Hookset
When you feel a bass bite your worm or jig, immediately lower the rod tip and bring it back sharply, so you snap the slack out of the line. This hookset will drive the point through the tough jaw of bass in much the same way that the blow of a hammer drives a nail through a board.
Big Surface Lures At Night
Nothing is more thrilling than the sound of a lunker bass smashing a surface lure at night. Cast a big, dark-colored top-water wobbler, popper, prop bait or buzz bait close to weedlines or shallow shorelines after dark. Use heavy line, and don't set the hook before the fish pull.
Isolated Objects Attract Bass
Bass are drawn to isolated objects — a lone stump on the end of a point, a small patch of grass growing a couple of boat-lengths from a large weedbed, etc. Target this randomly-scattered cover first — often that's where the biggest bass in the area will be.
Wear Polarized Sunglasses
Viewers of my TV show occasionally write in to ask why I'm always wearing sunglasses when I'm fishing, even on cloudy days. No, it's not because I'm trying to look cool — Polarized sunglasses greatly reduce the glare reflecting off the water's surface, allowing the angler to see fish-holding objects such as rocks, stumps and logs (as well as the fish themselves) more clearly. Keep at least two pairs of glare-reducing sunglasses handy when you're fishing — one with gray lenses for sunny conditions, and another with brown or yellow lenses for overcast conditions.
Try Hot Colors
Can't buy a strike? Try a spinnerbait or jig in a hot color such as blaze orange or chartreuse. These outrageous hues don't look like anything in nature, but they can provoke a reaction strike from a moody bass.