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Bass Fever!

By on May 1, 2018

Early-Season Primer Helps Land Lunkers


For most areas throughout the country, the best months for bass fishing are May and June, when they’re starting to spawn.

During spring, the spawning instinct brings bass to shallow water, where they’re much easier to target, especially from shore! Males express tremendous amounts of aggression when they move around in the shallow water. Females do the same and also guard their beds. If by chance, you throw a fly or a lure in front of a largemouth bass guarding a bed, you’re about to hook one!

The Strike Zone

When targeting bass, knowing where to present your fly or lure is extremely important. Bass like to live, feed, and swim in particular areas. Look for tall grass, thick weeds, and debris in the water. Females like thick grassy patches. If you accidentally throw a lure into a female largemouth’s bed, she will immediately do anything she can to get it away from her. That usually means an aggressive bite on your hook. Target the thickest grass patches where bass feel safe and where they feed on small fish like bluegill who also live there. As always, inlets are another excellent spot to cast a line. Fish love the oxygenated fresh water coming in at inlets and often hang out there.

Big Lures = Big Bass

Since I fish for trout most of the time, I’m usually using size 26 to 22 flies attached to 5X tippet. One of the things that makes bass fishing so fun is the fact that you can use almost any pound test line or tippet and BIG hooks. Bass are not leader shy— ever! A good general rule is that big lures catch big bass. When shopping for bass lures, don’t be afraid to pick up the biggest, heaviest one on the shelf. I’ve caught 12-inch bass on 12-inch lures; their aggression and confidence are unbelievable!


Bass on the Fly

Bass are big, strong, and heavy. I recommend never using less than a 6 wt fly rod. Personally, I use my 6 wt or 7 wt setups with floating or sinking line. During May and June, bass LOVE to eat frogs that start hopping around the lake shores. A floating line set up with a large, flashy, foam frog is one of the easiest ways to target bass on the fly. For tippet, I use no less than 12-pound equivalent for large mouth. If fishing an area that I know has large bass and lots of debris like logs and grass, I use 20-pound test tippet to ensure I won’t lose a big bass in the weeds because my line breaks.

These floating-line flies that imitate frogs are called “poppers,” and they’re available in all shapes and sizes. Some of my favorites are extremely colorful and make lots of noise when they hit the water. Take your time casting such large flies; let them make a huge splash when you’re committed to ending your cast (totally opposite from trout fishing).

Next, strip your line in with huge, aggressive bursts. This makes the popper skim across the top of the water, making a loud splash every time you stop your strip. It’s extremely important to strip your line in all the way until your fly is at the top of your rod. Bass are opportunists, and lots of times, they’ll chase your popper for 30 strips until that split-second they decide to attack. Once you see the large top-water splash of a bass hitting your fly, give your line a HUGE strip set and raise the tip of your rod to make sure the bass is hooked, good. Give your line constant tension, while bringing the fish in. They like to fight! For sinking line, use worm patterns that are flashy and strip them off the bottom. Worms are like candy to bass; they can’t resist!


Bass on a Bait Caster

Using a good quality bass rod and a bait caster is SO fun when targeting bass. My bait caster is set up with 30-pound test braid and a 12-pound mono leader of about 18 inches. The braid provides strength to get through debris, and you never have to worry about the bass breaking your line. The mono leader gives a clear line presentation to the bass, rather than the colorful one a braid gives. My bass rod is 7′-2″ long, which enables me to throw heavy lures extreme distances. When bass are stuck in the deep water, one of the best ways to catch them is with deep-diving crank baits.

When bass are in the grasses of shallow water, senkos work like a charm. I’ve always had good luck with green pumpkin senkos on 5/0 offset shank hooks, using the Carolina-rig or Texas-rig method. Senkos are weighted and easy to throw long distances. Jigging them off the bottom of the lake and through the grass triggers attacks. Using spinnerbaits is my all-time favorite way to catch bass with a bait caster. I probably have 100 spinnerbaits in different weights, sizes and color combinations.

Toss them out as far as possible and count to 5 (longer or shorter depending on water depth). Next, start reeling them in. Try a fast-, slow-, and medium-speed retrieval over and over again until you get a hit and find the retrieval speed the bass are reacting to. The fun thing about bait casters is that you can chuck and wind fast, and far. Because of this… cast all over the lakes! Go left, right, close, far… everywhere. This increases your odds of placing the lure in front of the bass.


Fly Fishing:

  • 6 or 7 wt rods
  • Floating line or sinking line
  • Bass flies including: Streamers, Bass worms, Poppers, Articulated streamers
  • 2X – 0/X tippet

Bait Caster:

  • 7′-2″ bass rod (preferably one piece)
  • Right-hand or left-hand retrieve bait caster reel
  • 20- to 30-pound test braided line with 10- to 20-pound mono leader
  • Lures including: crank baits, senkos, poppers, spinnerbaits, buzzer baits, bass jigs, jerk baits, live targets

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