Understanding bass behavior and reading water conditions are the keys to finding bass fast. In this guide, we’ll discuss how to read largemouth bass behavior and the techniques you should use to locate bass fast on your next fishing trip.
Hearing about the latest hot fishing spot or new lure is always interesting, but only offers a portion of the bass fishing puzzle. No matter how many spots you know about, or how well you can cast into tight places, you won’t become a well-rounded bass fisherman without being able to find fish.
Below are the top 7 tips for locating bass fast and how to read bass behavior to stay on them year round.
1) Use the Right Tactics for the Season
Largemouth bass can be found all over the U.S. in just about every freshwater impoundment, lake, pond, river, or stream. With such a large expanse of territorial range, it’s important to use the right seasonal tactics for where you happen to be fishing in able to catch bass fast.
Is it fall, winter, spring, or summer? Bass do different things at different times of the year, so not knowing how to approach them during each season could mean a wasted opportunity.
Not only can the season give you an idea of what water level the fish will be holding in, but it can also shed some light on what forage they are feeding on and what the best types of fishing methods and baits that may be best suited for the occasion.
Location plays the biggest role in determining how each season affects fishing conditions. In fall, the lake and impoundments further north are affected by the autumn cooling trends way before those in the south. Fall fishing usually kicks off around September in the south, but can start as early as August in the northern states.
Bass fishing water temperature charts can also help shed light on when to switch bass fishing techniques based on seasonal changes. In cold weather, bass head for deeper water, drop offs, and open water flats. But warmer conditions can trigger the spawn which happens in the shallows.
2) Lake Level and Water Clarity
As is the case with the seasons, lake levels and water clarity can also determine where fish will be located, their depth, and the tactics that should be applied. Spring and late winter are usually the wettest parts of the year; while summer is the driest.
Lakes and reservoirs tend to be the clearest in fall and at their lowest water levels. The clear water is usually a result of lack of rain induced runoff which increases turbidity and decreases clarity.
Low water levels during fall and drought conditions during the summer send most bass to creek channels and inlets. This is where most of your efforts should be concentrated in order to locate bass fast.
Heavy rains can influence lake levels and water clarity in short timespans on lakes and reservoirs. Abnormal amounts of rainfall can force bass to the shallows in newly flooded vegetation making for some really productive fishing.
Being able to recognize the seasonal changes combined with water clarity and lake levels is the key to finding bass fast and adapting while other anglers struggle to catch fish.
3) Cover Options
Bass love objects in the water and are naturally drawn to them for cover and concealment to ambush baitfish. Recognizing the amount and type of cover for where you’re fishing can help you locate bass fast.
Impoundments where water clarity exceeds 15 feet may mean that bass have to go extremely deep to find cover. Largemouth bass are routinely caught at depths of 20-50 feet in areas where the water clarity is exceptionally clear.
For lakes with shallow shorelines and cover, bass tend to hang out around logs, boat docks, aquatic vegetation, and rocky outcrops. Bass in these types of lakes tend to spend most of their lives around this shallow cover.
In fact, most bass won’t leave shallow water until the temperature drops below 55 degrees. In parts of the south, this may not occur until well into December.
Bass spawn during the spring in warm shallow waters. They often use cover to make a spawning bed as it reduces approach angles from other fish and predators. Keying in on cover is the key to finding bass fast on most lakes.
A good fish finder like the Garmin Striker 4 can help locate underwater cover.
4) Watch for Bait Fish and Other Activity
It’s easy to get distracted with the same old fishing routine, but what may have worked last week is but a distant memory today. One of the most common mistakes that bass anglers make when trying to locate bass fast is neglecting the signs that are the most obvious to them.
This is especially important during the fall when bass are feeding heavily on different species of baitfish. In the fall, bass feed almost exclusively on shad. During this time it’s important to focus on wakes, swells, and scampering bait fish which can indicate feeding activity is occurring.
Blue herons and other wading birds are also a tell-tale sign that small baitfish are nearby. These birds fish for a living and rarely waste their time in unproductive areas. If you see heron’s keying in on a certain area, check it out. There’s usually a good reason and it’s a good way to locate bass quickly.
5) Fish Areas Thoroughly
Never pass up the opportunity to fish around pieces of cover that look “fishy”. Bass will especially hold up on isolated pieces of cover since their options are limited in that area. Thoroughly fish prime cover to help locate bass fast when they a slow or sluggish.
While one cast may aggravate a bass and not result in a strike, several more casts may do the trick. If bass are not striking on the first cast, and you know they are holding tight to the area, fish it thoroughly and from different angles for the best results.
Lure selection can also play a large role in covering lots of ground. Easy to throw spinner baits, rapalas, and rat l traps can be fished quickly and make good lures for trying different angles. They also create a lot of movement and sound vibrations that can irritate a bass enough for them to strike.
In the summer, bass go to the shallows to spawn and find bait fish hiding in vegetation. Using soft plastics in lily pads and dropping them through holes in hydrilla can yield impressive results.
6) Listen to the Fish
Largemouth bass patterns change constantly and in order to locate bass fast, it’s important to pay attention to what the fish are telling you and adapt to it.
If you’ve spent several days fishing shallow water throwing buzzbaits, spinner baits, top waters, and soft plastics with marginal results, it’s probably safe to say that bass aren’t shallow.
Try moving to deep water channels and drop-offs where bass have likely moved to. It doesn’t hurt to try new things when you aren’t catching fish. You can also eliminate that level of uncertainty in the back of your mind that is telling you something isn’t right.
7) Change Lures and Retrieval Speed
New bass fishing techniques are introduced every year, but they are often just a reworking known tactics that have been used with success for decades. Rather than worry about what’s new, stick to using time tested lures and varying your speed to get the best results and locate bass fast.
Spinnerbaits haven’t changed their design in decades, but you can always experiment with different colors and retrieval speeds. Light color spinner baits work best in clear water, while darker spinner baits are better suited for low water clarity.
Retrieval speeds are especially important for top water fishing where zara spooks and poppers help to mimic wounded bait fish on the water’s surface. A medium retrieval speed works the best, but if bass are sluggish you may need to slow it down to give them time to initiate a strike.
Varying your lure types and retrieval speeds are great ways to mix things up when nothing seems to be working. Finding what bass want on any given day is the most difficult aspect of bass fishing, but once you find it, it is lights out.
A good fishing reel like the Shimano Curado helps with retrieval speeds and long casting distances.
Knowing how to catch bass is one thing, but knowing how to find them fast is even more important. To be able to be considered a well-rounded angler, you must be able to do both.
No matter if you’ve been fishing the same lake for twenty years, or you’re on a new body of water, the same bass fishing tactics hold true. Following the same plan of attack and reading bass behavior around you will help you become a well-rounded bass fisherman.
The first step to locating bass fast is to pick the right approach for the season. Spawning bass hold tight to the shallows and soft plastics work the best. Winter bass often head to deeper water where rat l traps and buzzbaits can be effective.
Lake levels and water clarity are important factors to assess before fishing your favorite spot. Heavy rains can flood new areas resulting in bass hanging up tight in flooded vegetation. Lakes with 10-15ft water clarity have bass seeking cover in deeper water.
Bass hang tight to cover almost every chance they get, so always take advantage of fishing boat docks, stumps, and rock outcrops. Bait fish jumping or other nervous looking water can indicate feeding activity and help you narrow down the best spots where bass are waiting to ambush baitfish.
Fishing areas with lots of cover thoroughly and from multiple angles can irritate a bass enough that they finally strike your lure. Largemouth bass patterns change constantly and in order to locate bass fast, it’s important to pay attention to what the fish are telling you and adapt to it.
Having all these tricks up your sleeve and understanding bass behavior will help you locate bass fast on your next fishing trip. These tactics, along with switching up your lure selections, retrieval speeds, and presentations are what separate the seasoned bass fisherman from the weekend warriors.
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