Bass Fishing 101

Relax. It's really not that hard.

 

RULE 1.    Fish where the fish are. Sounds stupid doesn't it. Not all ponds and lakes are created equal. Some have very few fish, others are packed full. Why waste your time at an empty lake? You can be the best bass fisherman in the world, but if you're fishing a lake that has a poor bass population, you won't catch any. Likewise, you could be on your first bass trip ever, and if you're on a good lake, you could catch a giant. Just because your brother-in-law once caught a fish at a lake, doesn't make it a good lake. That may have been the last bass in there !!! A good lake 10 years ago, doesn't mean a good lake today.

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Here's my list of good LAKES

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Listen to the DNR :    The IL Department of Natural Resources puts out a Bass Fisheries Status report every year. This is how they keep track of the stocking programs across our state. These guys go out and shock the lake, scoop up the fish, count, measure, and weigh them, then put them back in. So they know how many bass are in a lake, and how big they are. Luckily for us, this information is free and online for us to read.  Fish population vary every few years, that's why the DNR biologists keep stocking, shocking and counting. Listen to what the DNR biologists have to say, they aren't just guessing and making predictions.

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Listen to other anglers :    Many good websites get updates and reports from some top notch anglers. Bass tournament results (usually published online and in newspapers) are an excellent source of information. If 20 boatloads of tournament anglers can't catch a limit, then the lake is probably not worth visiting. If the tournament winner bagged 30 pounds of bass in 5 fish, get to the boat launch !!!!

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Filter the Bull :    Baitshops and fishing guides can have an obvious interest in touting their own lakes and areas, so take their reports with a grain of salt.

 

RULE 2.    Go fishing when the fish are biting. Sounds pretty stupid too.

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Fish in MAY :    Bass bite the best in the month of MAY (in central and northern Illinois). In May, the adult bass are in their pre-spawn feeding frenzy. This is the month to concentrate on bass fishing. If you want to learn to catch bass, this is the time. The fish are shallow, close to shore, and aggressive. Anyone who can cast and crank can get one in May.

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Pick the GOOD DAYS :    Best times are early in the morning, cloudy days, weekdays (less fishermen), and when a storm front is coming in the next 24 hours.

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Avoid the BAD DAYS :    More difficult times are high noon with bright sunshine, the day after a big storm (cold front came through), Sunday afternoon (shore to shore fishermen and kids throwing rocks). Two basics to fish behavior are: (1) Lots of commotion and noise can spook fish away. (2) Fish don't have eyelids, so they can't squint when it's sunny, so they move to deeper water and are harder to catch.

 

RULE 3.    Work the Patterns.     If you're on a good lake, at a good time, and you're making your way around the shoreline, but the fish just won't bite, then change your lure.

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Start with a Winner :    I always start with my most reliable lures. If they catch good fish right away, I'll stick with them. Top picks for Spring Bass Fishing can be seen on my Bass Lures Page.

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Ride the wave :    If everybody is killing them on rattle-baits in the shallows, then you can bet that I'll be throwing rattle-baits in the shallows too. You don't have to reinvent the wheel.

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Avoid the RUT :    If you fish for 60 to 90 minutes without a bite, it's time to switch lures. Don't throw the same thing at them all day. Just because they bit it last week or yesterday doesn't mean they want it today.

    

RULE 4.     Move.     I see so many fisherman find a spot they like, then park in one spot and cast for hours, never getting a bite.

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Cover water :    Bass are ambush predators, they don't just roam endlessly looking for lures to chase. When they are hungry, they find a spot they like, hunker down, and wait. When a lure passes overhead, they either strike it or they don't. If they don't nail your lure on the first 2 casts, then they aren't going to, they certainly aren't going to decide to chase it down the 30th time it goes overhead, in fact, any bass will get annoyed and swim away to another location by then because you have spooked away the things he wants to eat. Start at your favorite spot, thoroughly cast it in all directions, then MOVE down the shore and try for the next bass. Don't plant yourself in one spot and cast it over, and over, and over, and over, and over again. With a little practice, you will locate several spots that consistently attract and hold bass (bass feeding locations) and you'll spend your day rotating through these spots, and you will be catching many more fish.

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Use the Wind :    Use the wind to your advantage. Try to position your boat to drift with the wind towards the area you want to cast. Then cast with the wind (making extra long casts). I see so many guys in bass boats, grinding that trolling motor straight into the wind, making difficult short casts against the wind.  What are you doing ??!!!! Get UPWIND and get off the trolling motor, you'll cover more water, spook less fish, make longer better casts, and catch more bass.

 

RULE 5.    Wear Polarized fishing glasses. Don't go to the lake without them.

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Cheap is fine :    I get mine at Wal-Mart. They are about $10 for a basic pair. Polarized is polarized. That $300 pair will sink in the lake just as fast as a $10 pair.

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Physics :    Polarized lenses eliminate horizontal glare off the surface of the water. This lets you SEE IN THE WATER. It's easier to catch a fish if you can see him. It's easier to make your lure run next to the sunken stump with the bass laying next to it, if you can see the stump. Being able to see rocks, stumps, logs, weeds and fish under the surface is a huge advantage that many fishermen just ignore. Make sure they say Polarized, they are very different than ordinary sunglasses.

 

 

 

Click Here for some Bass Facts