“How to catch larger bass,” is probably the most common topics of discussion whenever I meet fisherman. Well, this is a question that can’t be answered in one sentence, but I will do my best to provide an answer that can get you on your way to catching larger bass.
The first thing you have to do is commit some time on the water. This is by far the most important thing you must do in order to catch larger bass. If you’re not there on the water you don’t have a chance to catch any bass at all. So trying to get out on the water early and staying till dark is a must. This has been the one major factor that has helped me catch some giant bass. There have been days when I started to recognize patterns that the bass were in and this helped me because then I knew the next day what to expect and how to prepare to catch these giants. Sometimes it was just as simple as bringing a new lure to try to see if I could catch a few more bass or some larger ones.
Another very important element in locating and catching larger bass is learning about and studying the ecosystem of the lake or stream you’re fishing. There is an old saying: “match the hatch”. Well, this is exactly what you want to do and by understanding your lake’s ecosystem you’ll understand where the bass are and what they prefer to feed on.
Understanding and finding an ecosystem in your lake or stream takes a little time invested, but the payoff can be huge. Where I live, here in Southern California, we have small, deep resevoirs that are built to hold drinking water so the water is very clear and clean and not as full of nutrients as many other dirtier, darker-colored lakes. These clear waters are full of phytoplankton, which rely on minerals found in the waters they live in, such as iron, nitrate, silicic acid, and phosphate. They then absorb energy from sunlight through the process of photosynthesis. The sun’s energy allows the phytoplankton to convert the minerals in the water to a source of food they can use to survive. These plankton are the foundation of food chains in the lakes I fish with minnows, shad, small bass, and small panfish eating the plankton and larger bass eating the smaller fish and so on. There are also other parts of the food chain that drive the ecosystem where I fish and they include the crayfish, sculpin, and aquatic insects that live both in and on the water. By understanding what’s in the food chain where you fish, you’ll slowly start to put the pieces together of how the ecosystem is driven in the waters you fish. Once this is done, you’ll spend more time in the right areas at the right times and you’ll start catching larger bass due to matching the hatch.
In the lakes where I live the favorite food bass hunt throughout the year is crawdads. These crawdads, which are high in calcium content, give the bass a healthy bone structure and the calcium is also key for a female bass in the development of eggs. Crawdads are something that are easy for bass to hunt and catch while exerting very little energy.
So when you want to really catch some of the bigger bass in the lake you need to match the hatch with a jig or any other crawdad imitation. Even using live crawdads caught from the same lake you plan to fish is an awesome game plan to catch a bass of a lifetime. Two words you need to remember when fishing a crawdad, or a crawdad imitation lure, are slow and deep. These two words are key in catching large bass. As a bass ages, it becomes weary when hunting and begins to hunt at a slower pace, much more of a sit and wait ambush mode. The bigger bass understand to not to move to0 quickly around potential prey, to just sit, or move at a snail’s pace to avoid threatening the prey. So by fishing slower and deeper where these giant bass feel much more comfortable is key in catching these keystone predators of the food chain and the king of the ecosystem of the lake or stream.
Another huge factor in catching large bass is knowing where the prime ambush areas are and understanding the timing of these areas. I’ve found where I live, with water clarity being 15′-20′ on average, I need to fish during the low-light periods for ultimate success in getting some of the monster bass to eat. Once I’ve found a few structure-oriented ambush areas that I feel are key spots, I try to figure out the right direction to set up on these key spots to present a bait correctly through the key structure area while paying close attention to the speed of the retrieve. Then it’s all about the timing of these key spots which is driven by the sunrise-sunset and moonrise-moonset. I have found in my years of keeping data that the hour before and after both the sunrise and the moonset are beneficial times to be on a key spot. My records show that well over 75% of the bass I’ve caught over 10 pounds were caught around these time frames.
Sometimes catching a bigger bass is as simple as just fishing the biggest lure you can that matches the hatch and in some cases is even larger than the prey. In the world of swimbaits here on the West coast we have been matching the hatch with Rainbow Trout swimbaits with an average size of 8″-12″ and the occasional 13″-16″ monster swimbaits. Our mantra is go big or go home. When chucking these monster lures it takes the right tackle along with some fitness and endurance to chuck and wind these big lures all day. But keep in mind to fish slow and deep even though this is hard to do when you’re all pumped up to toss these big lures. It’s hard to slow down. So remember next time your out on the water and wanting to hook some larger bass try paying close attention to what’s going on above the water as well as under the water and slow down and fish deeper. Good Luck!