Bass Fishing

Let’s face it, bass fishing can be tough. The question every angler constantly asks his or herself is “How do I catch more big bass?” There isn’t a simple answer to that question. There are many bass fishing tips that can increase your fish-catching odds. We compounded all of our bass fishing knowledge. I put together this list of tried and true tips. They are sure to make you a more successful bass angler. When it comes to largemouth bass, that same number plays an outsize role. The bass is the most American gamefish of all, and a 10-pounder is the undisputed benchmark. “I’ve caught a lot of 7- to 9-pound bass. You can usually get them on the patterns that catch 3- to 5-pound fish.” As a retired Elite series pro I promise you will catch more bass. “But at 10 pounds, something changes.”

Let’s face it, bass fishing can be tough.
I talked with some of the greatest big-bass anglers in the U.S. about their strategies, secrets, and favorite locations for catching 10-pound bass. Depending on where you live, a 10-pounder may not be an option—but don’t let that stop you from reading, because these tips will still help you catch the biggest bass of your life.

 

 

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The Buzz On Bass

May 5, 2020 by lbailey

Game and Fish Magazine
by: ken Duke
Lee Bailey Jr. loves buzzbait fishing so much that he’s designed several
commercial buzzers through the years. The former Bassmaster Elite Series pro now makes the Baby Buzzbait (Baby Buzzbait.com), which comes in 1/8- and 1/4-ounce sizes.

Baby Buzzbait Game and Fish Magazine

Why so small? Because the Baby Buzzbait is an absolute bass slayer around
vegetation.

“You need a small, light buzzbait to come through grass and pads,” Bailey
explains. “If you’re throwing a standard 1/2-ounce model — or even a 3/8-ounce bait with a frog body — it’s going to bog down when my Baby Buzzbait won’t. A smaller buzzbait also has a very appealing profile. It creates a strong surface disturbance, but it’s not so big that it deters any bass from striking.”

Unlike Dudley, Bailey prefers a skirt on his buzzbaits, not a frog body. And unlike Evers, he never uses a trailer hook because bass are less likely to miss his compact lure.

Bailey likes stable weather for his May buzzbaiting but notes that impending storm fronts can really fire up the bite. And though he makes the Baby Buzzbait in four colors, black is definitely his favorite, and he uses one very simple retrieve.

“I reel it as slow as I can and still keep it on top,” he says. “Bass want to eat, and they’re seldom in a mood to chase their food. A slow retrieve also helps them target the bait.”

Bailey’s final word of advice is not to set the hook too quickly. It often takes a second or more for bass to securely grab the lure after they take it under the water. To compensate, he uses 17-pound-test monofilament and fishes the lure with his rod at the 11 or 12 o’clock position. This forces him to drop the rod tip before setting the hook.

That slight delay, and the stretch inherent in monofilament line, gives the bass a better chance to inhale the lure and Bailey a better chance at a solid hook-up.

Catching Out-of-Sight Spawning Bass

April 4, 2020 by lbailey

Fishing opportunities for catching largemouth bass are prolific during the late season spawn. The opportunities may be plentiful but without sound strategies for fishing for late season spawning bass, these days can be tough. Concentrate your strategies on Catching Out-of-Sight Spawning Bass. Knowing where bass will be (and where they won’t). You will want to have the best soft jerkbaits for spawning largemouth bass. Doing so puts you in the best possible position to fish the late bass spawning season.

Catching Out-of-Sight Spawning Bass by Baby Buzzbait

Concentrate your strategies on Catching Out-of-Sight Spawning Bass.

It’s not all about the shiny spots. Just because you can’t see the bass on the beds doesn’t mean you can’t catch them. As a retired Bassmaster Elite and FLW touring Pro I have been considered one of the top site fisherman on both tours. I won a Bassmaster Invitational on Table Rock lake both site fishing and Catching Out-of-Sight Spawning Bass. It’s a simple process that works for me as well as several other touring bass pros, especially on late spawners.

Start and Stop Lures for Bass on Beds

I catch alot of spawning bass just fan casting around shallow grass flats. It’s a world of fun catching them off spawning beds. However, late spawning bass are going to be on those shallow flats well into early summer. Rely on fishing reports, water temperatures, moon phase and time of year to be confident that bass are still spawning in a particular area. If you are sure the bass spawning season is still going on, then fish those spawning grounds regardless of conditions. Bass will be there and even though you can’t sight fish you can still blind cast slow sinking soft jerkbaits like the Lunker city Slugo, or Zoom Super Fluke.

Early Prespawn Bass Fishing in shallow water.

…bass are prolific during the late season spawn.

Fish Slow and Move Slow

What I like to do is position my boat in the grassy area and fan cast around with a soft jerkbait. Cast it where you want it then let it sink, keeping a close eye on the line. Try not to put any pressure on the bait, just let it free fall. I will concentrate on holes in the grass bed. No matter how big or how small the open patch is. The opening area needs to be large enough to allow the bait to slowly sink to the bottom. When it hits the bottom, twitch it once or twice if nothing happens just reel in and cast again. It’s just that simple and the bass just can’t help themselves. The type of lures I use at this time require a slow presentation. This is true but you also want to move slowly.

Now residing in Florida, I start my fishing during the spawn much earlier than the rest of the country. I’m looking for beds while most of the rest of the nation isn’t even thinking about Christmas. I’m lucky, being retired here. I get months of this kind of excitement where many of you only get a couple of weeks.

Pre-spawn cold front bass.

March 1, 2020 by lbailey

Nothing can ruin a hot pre-spawn pattern faster than a cold front. Modest fluctuations in temperatures can have a slight affect on bass behavior. A powerful front that combines stiff, cold winds, bright blue skies and a sudden drop in water and air temperature can shut Pre-spawn cold front bass down. So what’s an angler to do? Just leave your reaction baits in the tackle box and turn to more subtle baits, like a Senko, worm or tube. Use baits that will allow you to get right in front of the fish and coax that big-headed bass into feeding.

Pre-spawn cold front bass

Fish get cranky after a cold front.

It’s a scenario that every hardcore bass angler has to deal with and it’s something that happens with frustrating regularity. After a front, the size of the strike zone really decreases. Bass won’t travel far to hit a lure, so you have to bring your bait to the fish because it’s not going to come to your bait. They also tend to stick real tight to cover when the sun is bright. Darkness is security to a bass. That’s why they tend to roam more during low light conditions.

During happier February and March times, when the sun is high enough to warm shallow water, you could catch Pre-spawn cold front bass. But if your luck is anything like mine, you’ve seen your share of nasty February and March cold fronts blow through your area on a Friday night just in time to mess up your Saturday fishing trip.

This time of year, I’ll look for some sort of edge or travel route that leads to spawning areas.

In a typical southern reservoir, I will begin my search for bass in the backs of coves, secondary points, grass beds, boat docks anything that provides a roof.

In northern lakes where the water is clearer and where the bottoms are rockier and their isn’t a lot of submerged cover, bass will retreat to deeper water, using that deeper water as their roof.

Fish get cranky after a cold front especially the really cold ones in February and March. Make your presentation subtle with a small bait and put the bait right in front of these opportunistic feeders and you can spend a cold day boating big bass after big bass.

Early Prespawn Bass Fishing

February 14, 2020 by lbailey

Early prespawn bass fishing gives anglers an excellent opportunity to catch monster bass. As the bass emerge from their deep, offshore areas and wintertime haunts in preparation for the spawn. They are notoriously indiscriminate when it comes to their feeding behavior. The result is simple giant bass and lots of them.

Early Prespawn Bass Fishing in shallow water.

…there are always going to be bass in shallow water.

As a retired Elite Series pro and one of the best at dissecting early prespawn patterns. As the days start getting longer, I primarily rely on shallower water to start my process of elimination. When I find shallower areas where the bait has moved into early, this affords me the ability to catch some big fish.

Early prespawn bass fishing gives anglers an excellent opportunity to catch monster bass.

Although early prespawn bass can be quite predictable, it’s important to understand they’re like people in a sense, each one exhibits unique behavior. For this reason, I believe in the process of elimination throughout this time of year. Keeping the bass “honest” as you will, plays a big role in my strategy.

Whenever you approach the beginning stages of the prespawn, I suggest going through a thorough process of elimination. While some folks like to start deep and work their way shallow, I’m actually the polar opposite. I always target the backs of creeks and short pockets before I do anything else.

The reason for this plan is twofold. As one of the best shallow anglers in the world, I feel most confident fishing for bass in dirt-shallow water. More importantly, however, I believe shallow water plays host to more bass than you might think.

It doesn’t matter where you go, there are always going to be bass in shallow water. Will they be the ones to win a tournament? That really depends on the fishery, but shallow areas give me a complete overview of the water temperature which is a huge deal in the early prespawn. It’s not uncommon to find places with nearby springs that will result in a five-degree water temperature increase. If you wait to go back there, you’ll never know and you might miss out on an incredible shallow bite.

As I sit here writing this article in Sunny central Florida, I find myself thinking how this strategy works in all areas of the country. Originally from CT, I relied on this early prespawn bass strategy to win many tournaments in my area. Right now the fish here in central FL are bouncing back and forth between prespawn and spawn. The weather being the problem. The cold fronts keep coming every 3 to 4 days.

I hope this strategy helps you. “Catch The Dream”

Binsky fishing in winter

January 20, 2020 by lbailey

Binsky fishing in winter is at it’s best when the bass stop biting jigs, crankbaits stop working, and you don’t get anything on a drop-shot, the Binsky blade bait still triggers strikes. And when the fish are on them, nothing else in your tackle box will be as effective. I fish The Binsky vibrating blade bait that can be cast and retrieved or vertically jigged. It is designed with a shape and action to maximize all the fish catching qualities available in a metal lure. I believe guys tend to overwork blades. For me, “Short hops catch more winter fish. I just lift until I feel it vibrate, then kill it and let it fall to the bottom.”
“Gold is my number-one color choice, but I also like silver and goby pattern Binsky’s, particularly on tidal waters.

Fish the Binsky in winter

“There are times when a Binsky will out fish anything else you might tie on.”

Well, I’m more partial to the jig, but even I’ll admit that there are times when a Binsky will out fish anything else you might tie on. And the wintertime is a great time to fish a blade bait. I seldom go out in cold weather without having a 1/2-ounce Binsky tied to one of my rods — usually a 6-foot, 6-inch medium heavy spinning or bait casting rod.

I will fish them in the same places I fish a jig, including docks, rocky banks, seawalls, and barge tie-ups. Some anglers jig the Binsky on straight braided line to maximize response time, but I believe that results in too many snagged fish. I prefer 10-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon to ensure that head shakes or modest jumps don’t dislodge the lure.

Where to use the Binsky fishing in winter:

  • Deep of shore structure
  • Ledges, bluffs, channel breaks, humps and points.
  • Bridge abutments
  • Submerged timber, stumps, brush piles, grass, rocks, gravel etc.
  • Schooling fish
    • Suspending over deeper water
    • Suspending out in open water
    • Chasing bait on the surface or anywhere in between
  • Boat docks
  • Anywhere where there are schools of bait

I really like to capitalize on that stunned shad situation. The bass and other game fish as well, know they can get a pretty easy meal without having to expend much energy. Something they relish in the colder months. They can just ease around and pick off struggling baitfish from the pack. If you’ve got lots of cold water where you fish, one of my favorite winter patterns involves fishing the warm spells that we get every year. You know the ones I’m talking about, when things warm up a little and we get some rain that’s a good deal warmer than the lake water.

This is the perfect time to take your blade bait and work the points and pockets back in the creeks of your favorite reservoir. You see, the water that came in with the rain is warmer than the lake water, and that will draw the baitfish in. When that happens, you know what’s next, the bass will follow.

Baby Buzzbait big bass lure

October 31, 2019 by lbailey

As top water lures go, for many years the Baby Buzzbait big-bass lure has earned the title of a big Bass bait. In my opinion baby buzzbaits are still underrated! Many anglers will tell you that buzzbaits are novelty lures that work during a few specialized situations. They also claim that they really aren’t a strong big bass lure. Well! They are wrong! I will be the first to argue this point with anyone. And I’ll tell you something else; out on the pro tour buzzbaits are something many of the pros as do I use regularly.

Their reputation becomes especially true when the bass are in heavy cover. That being said, heavy cover in this instance means all types of cover. Cover that touches the surface or is close to the surface is best for this Baby Buzzbait compact design. Matted vegetation or clumped grass is extremely hot for catching bass with baby buzzbait.

I have been asked by many anglers when to use the 1/8 oz over the ¼ oz Baby Buzzbait. Well in a lot of situations it doesn’t really matter. However I will choose the 1/8 oz Baby when I am fishing really thick matted grass. The stuff that looks like you could walk on it. The lighter bait comes across the top of this vegetation like no other buzzbait. Now with our compact ¼ oz bait I like to throw it where the grass is a bit more open and scattered especially in stained to clear water. Mostly because I can throw the bait further without spooking the fish with my boat.

Bass do not need to be aggressive to catch them on Baby Buzzbait big-bass lure. Non-aggressive bass are enticed into striking this big bass lure because they are not spooked by a loud noise. Instead this little compact buzzbait comes across the surface with a small gurgle. Cast and retrieve the bait all the way through the cover. Bass can hear it coming toward them from a long distance. This gives them time to set themselves up to strike the buzzbait as it approaches their lair.

Baby Buzzbait big-bass lure

Heavy structure is the primary ingredient to consistent buzzing. Don’t be timid about throwing the baby buzzbait into the heaviest and thickest cover you can find. Concentrate on weeds, logs, rocks, docks, bridge pillars, etc. Bump into as many objects during a single retrieve as possible. This bumping action causes the bait to change it’s speed, noise, and direction just enough to trigger those big bass into striking.

Keep tuned into your buzzbait at all times because the strike will usually come as you bump the object or just as you pass it. Also, try retrieving very slowly so the buzz has a chance to make as much commotion as possible. Many anglers feel that a buzzbait must be fished fast. Let me set the record straight, you will catch more fish on a slow retrieve than that of a fast one. As always let the fish tell you what they want. I have had days when you couldn’t retrieve your buzzbait fast enough. The bass would chase it down and just crush it.

“Catch the Dream”

Fall River Smallmouth Bass

October 13, 2019 by lbailey
Big River Smallmouth Bass

Fall River Smallmouth Bass can be so highly concentrated, catches of a dozen smallies from a spot hardly larger than a bathtub are common. Many times, I’ve gotten strike after strike in a single small spot. Better yet, many of these strikes are larger fish. Why do the big fish hit better? One explanation offered for the larger number of smallies over 15 inches caught in the late season is that the smaller bass’ metabolism slows quicker in cold water than it does for bigger smallmouth. So even though you may be casting through a pod of a dozen small fish and just 5 larger ones, the big boys are the ones still actively feeding.

I caught 22 smallmouths on 22 consecutive casts

Lee Bailey Jr remembers fishing a small local tournament on Lake Lillinonah and finding a deeper water area just below the rapids of the headwaters. I found a bath tube size boulder sitting right on the bottom of the ledge drop. I caught fish all day long casting a small jig just up current of the boulder and allowing the jig to tumble to the boulder. Every time the jig came to the very front of the boulder I would get bit. I weighed in 17lbs of big Fall River Smallmouth Bass to win the event. I counted 22 smallmouths on 22 consecutive casts at one point during that great fall day.

Fish the Deep Cabbage

September 29, 2019 by lbailey

What makes it so good? For starters, Fish the Deep Cabbage. I have seen it growing as deep as 14 feet with stalks that reach all the way to the top. When you find it like this, it’s going to provide cover and shade for bait fish and predators. The Binsky works well in the deeper grass. Let the bait fall and rip it up through the grass, then let it fall on a slack line. Some monsters can be caught this way

One of the best characteristics of cabbage is its relative scarcity. Even in lakes with a lot of it, it’s not everywhere. For instance, on the New York side of Lake Champlain you can find beds to Fish the Deep Cabbage that are 20 to 30 feet deep. There may be none of it for a few hundred yards in every direction. This makes it a magnet for all the fish in that area.

Fish the Deep Cabbage

The fact that it does not grow the same every year is interesting as well. In general, it seems to be steadily expanding in the Northeast, as the lakes gradually become more fertile. On the other hand, some of the most productive cabbage beds I have don’t grow every year. This means you have to invest the time to find it each year.

Finally, Fish the Deep Cabbage because it can be some of the last grass to stay healthy as the fall approaches. Meaning it can be a great fall pattern.

Changing Your Fishing Line

September 14, 2019 by lbailey
Changing Your Line

When it comes to Changing Your Fishing Line, I am sure an anglers fishing line is perhaps the most important piece of equipment that they have. Anglers at all levels may not recognize this fact, but it is nonetheless true. I have seen many anglers who go for months if not seasons without changing their fishing line. To me going for an entire season or even a month or so without changing my fishing line seems crazy, especially seeing as how I change my line every day during competition and every time I go out fishing.

I know that many times anglers look at their line and if it looks fine they figure its OK. I also know that line can be expensive. However, how important is catching fish to you!

Stress on the line will greatly wear it down. Whether fighting against a ten-pound fish or trying to pull your lure free from a snag. The line gets weakened whenever it is taut. Monofilament fishing lines stretch in order to control the catch. They can take a lot of stretching, but this will still contribute to the line weakening. Any object taking on stress will weaken over time. This means that your fishing line needs to be changed often. The older the line, the more likely it will snap in the middle of a fight with a strong fighting fish.

Fishing line receives damage easily without you even noticing it. If you want to be sure your line will not snap, change it before each outing. Different hazards like rocks and sticks can damage the fishing line from contact, so occasionally check to make sure it is clear of any nicks or knots. If you find a weak spot like this higher up on the line, simply cut it off and retie. Also, when replacing fishing line, be considerate of nature by cutting up the old line and properly disposing of it. Many anglers will leave an old line out where animals can easily be tangled in it and die.

Below are a few situations that will weaken your line when fighting a fish.

  • The fish goes deep, pulling the line across rocks, logs or other hard objects.
  • The fish is big and the line will rub across its body, tail, or teeth and
  • Simply, the line will stretch and become fatigued, eventually

eventually prompting the line to break. Taking care of your fishing line is very important. I travel all over the country and I am constantly going from extreme heat to extreme cold, moist conditions, whatever it may be. Keeping your line in an airtight storage container that you can find virtually anywhere will keep your line in great shape. Especially if you are using bulk spools that take longer to use up and sit around more. UV rays from the sunshine will harm your line as well as extreme heat and cold temperatures. Damage can happen if you keep your line out in the boat or in the truck. It can become weak and damaged. Keep your line in a storage container, keep it indoors and your line will stay strong.

How to fish a Trick Worm

May 16, 2019 by lbailey

Flooded water largemouth caught on a Baby Buzzbait.The “trick” worm is a straight soft-plastic worm that is 6 to 7 inches long. It does not have a tail that is shaped to provide any swimming action. Even though the Trick worm is made in natural-appearing colors, it is often found in very bright colors, some of which are bubblegum (pink), Merthiolate, white, and chartreuse.

The only indication you have a hit is when your line jumps

I find the bright colors are the best producers on bright days and around heavy structure. Use the dark more bland colors when there are clouds and the fish are a bit spooky. I rig the trick worm with no weight and fish it almost like a topwater lure. When you twitch them, they jump back and forth like a Zara Spook. They can be fished in many ways but for me the most effective seems to be to twitch them just under the surface and then pause and let the worm sink. Sometimes the fish come up and hit the worm on top and you can see them. Other times, the worm just disappears when the fish sucks it in. If you let the worm sink out of sight, the only indication you have a hit is when your line jumps or starts to move off.

The trick worm can be fished in the early spring right through till early fall. When the fish are roaming in the shallows and where they are the most vulnerable. I fish this shallow water pattern with the trick worm for the most success. You can put a kink in the worm to give it more action. You can fish around vegetation, timber, flat banks, and deep suspended fish. You can catch these fish even on those cold front days when the fish are not moving much. It is a great locator bait when they are active or effected by the fisherman’s worst night mare the cold front.

Keep the worm from slipping down the shank

Tie the hook directly to the line. Sometimes I put a small swivel about six inches above the hook to keep the line from twisting. Use a 3/0 hook and insert it into the trick worm as if you were Texas rigging it. Make sure the hook is extremely sharp. I prefer an offset hook because it helps keep the worm from slipping down the shank. Use a standard 90 degree offset with a round bend. I find that fishing this trick worm in shallow water I sweep the rod a bit side ways when I set the hook. This round bend hook gives me a higher hook up percentage. I will rig this bait on a bait caster with a six foot six medium heavy rod with line sizes ranging from twelve to twenty pound line.

Add a small nail to weight the bait

When fishing vegetation you can throw the bait as close to the stuff as possible or up on top of it and slide it off into the water. Give the bait a slight jerk and let if sink then give it another jerk. When the fish strikes the bait let them have it for a few seconds before setting the hook. If you are working timber, throw the bait past the trees and stumps and work the bait up to structure and let it sink. Let the bait sink down then start a slow jerking motion till you come to another tree or stump. If your fish are suspended, add a small nail to weight the bait and count it down to where you know the fish are and then start a jerking motion in the area you feel the fish are at. As I stated earlier the colors are up to the individual. The brighter they are the better you can see them and can follow them as you jerk them over the surface.

This is also a good back up bait when you are using a Baby Buzzbait and the fish blows up on the bait and misses it. You can cast this bait in the area of the blow up and let it sink. Most of the time the fish will hit the trick worm on the fall. If the fish misses the buzzbait then cast back into the area with the floating worm and get ready to set the hook.

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