This page contains fishing tips that were gathered from the Bass Fishing Home Page message board and the Angler's Online chat room. They offer specific suggestions to situations we all encounter in bass fishing regardless of where we fish.
High Pressure, High Ski, Clear
Water, NO FISH
Under these conditions you need to remember a few things. The fish will find the heaviest cover they can and bury themselves in it. Slow, methodical presentations are absolutely necessary. Don't be afraid to make multiple casts or flips (or whatever method you are using) to any given piece of cover where you think fish may be holding. You may even want to try dead-sticking your lure, even it is a worm or jig. These types of presentations should be made with small, finesse lures such as 4 inch worms or 3-4 inch tubes. The jig & pig will also work well in these situations, if worked slowly and in the proper areas.
Posted by Curt Snow on October 14, 1996
For the last year or so I have been concentrating a lot of my fishing efforts on the California Delta where the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers converge then flow eventually down into San Francisco Bay. It is a tidal water, plus it has influences from the river flows and large pumping stations that send water to Southern CA. If you are going to catch fish consistantly (I'm still working on that) you have to learn how to read the current and plan your day around the tidal movements. Whether you "chase a tide" to try to replicate a particular condition as the tide moves along, or if you stay in an area and change tactics based on what level the tide is or the strength of the current, you have to account for the tides. What I have decided, based on articles I have read and personal experience, that fish, especially bass, are lazy and would prefer to sit in an eddy or current block somewhere and wait for food to wash by. Once you learn to spot the areas they will hold, they become very predictable. Sometimes the slightest little break in the current will create an eddy that will hold fish. Remember that current breaks are not always visible, sometimes they are a hump, drop off or rock pile on the bottom that you might notice on your graph or feel with your bait as you come across it. Some times you can see them by the way the water looks on the surface too. If they are actively feeding they will be on the edge of the current waiting for your bait, If they are nuetral, they will be back in the slack water, but still not far from the current and you can catch them by dropping a bait in front of them. In the Delta at least, the tides pretty much determine when the fish will be actively feeding.
10/15/96 Pat Dilling from Northern CA
My experience says the following: Fishing tends to be better, sometimes great, on the three days before and after a full moon and the new moon. Sometimes there will be an especially strong bite on the days before or after, and sometimes for the entire period. However, weather fronts can compltely cancell out the expected advantage of a good moon. That is, stable weather is probably a stronger advantage, but when there is stable weather AND a good moon it can be gangbusters fishing.
10/16/96 Jim Hopper from OH
For getting started, you need a general purpose bait that is a compromise working well in most conditions. I have what I call my "Bird Dog" lure. Works in any cover under most conditions. Start with a 7/16 to 9/16 oz. head, (weight controls depth and speed), with a single willowleaf blade either a No. 5 or No. 4.5 hammered nickel. Add a chartruse and white living rubber skirt bobbed about 1/4" behind the hook. Add a clear or firecracker curl tail worm with a chartruese tail cut off at the egg sack as a trailer. Bend the hook out just a touch to improve the hook up ratio.
Tends to work best working slow near the bottom. If you don't have stumps or weeds to bounce off of, then flick the rod tip about every 10' or so which will flare the skirt and twist the blade. Looks alot like a small school of bait fish scattering and most of the strikes come on the flare. Once you locate them with the Bird Dog, either switch to a lighter spinner bait, (tandums are a nice change), or go back to your old faithfuls of worms and jigs for the fish that aren't agressive enough for the spinner bait.
Posted by Paul on October 18, 1996
There are no hard and fast rules regarding the use of spinnerbaits. The only way to learn to use them is to do just that... use them! Many people limit their use of spinnerbaits to shallow water. They are a very productive tool here because they allow you to cover a lot of water, and they are relatively snag free, therefore they can be fished in many different types of cover. But, they can also be used in depths up to 20 ft. I'm not sure what part of the country you are located in. If you are in the Southern half, this is a good time of year to fish a spinnerbait with relatively little knowledge of the bait, and still catch fish. If you live in the Northern half of the country, your best bet is to fish them hard in the Springtime. You may even want to go fishing one or two days with nothing in your boat but a couple rods and a handful of spinnerbaits. I consider spinnerbaits to be one of the most versatile and productive baits you can own. Do yourself a favor and spend some time learning to use them. You'll gain confidence in them, and you'll be glad you did.
Posted by Curt Snow on October 17, 1996
Don't forget about fishing deep in fall. Yes, there will be some active shallow fish, especially in the backs of creeks. But remember, the fish often hold deep and periodically move shallow to feed. Last month at Smith Mountain Lake, the fish were near the backs of creeks, but were still in 14-17 feet of water. A Poe's 400 did the trick and I won a 3 day tournament there. But, I should take my own advice more often. I had a two day tournament on a local reservoir last weekend. After weighing-in only two shallow fish on Sat, I should have gone deeper on Sun. But I didn't. At the ramp, as I was loading my flashing and expensive Ranger on the trailer, I commented to a walleye fisherman, loading his old, 14 foot aluminum boat, how tough the fishing had been that day. He said, "I caught more bass than walleye today in 25' of water on sonars and silver buddies." Talk about feeling like a fool! Shallow fish are more fun to catch in some ways. But, if you can find some deeper fish, they tend to be schooled more tightly, tend to be larger, and certainly have less angling pressure put on them. The time spent trying to locate deeper fish may result in a big payoff.
Jeff Hahn from Ohio 10/17/96
STRUCTURE: Anything below the surface of the water which is not
a flat bottom. Any hump, bump, hole, stump, tree, rockpile, channel, etc.
Basically anything with a edge and that you can define well enough to fish
DROP-OFF: A location where a change in depth of the water occurs. May be a very abrupt, quick drop into deeper water (such as a ledge), or it may be a gradual slope into a deeper area. Normally, the steeper the drop, the better its fish-holding potential.
BREAKLINE: Also can be called a dropline, drop-off, or ledge. Refers to the top edge of the drop-off.
EDGE: The side of anything. Examples - the eddy of a current flow is the side of the current, where the weeds end, side of a ledge or bluff, where a rock bottom turns into sand or mud. Fish like edges, much like deer like to walk the edge of the trees where going along a field. Who knows for sure why. May have to do with exposing themselves.
POINT: Where a finger of land juts out into the water; where an abrupt turn in the dry land along the water occurs. Abrupt turns in the dry land are ALWAYS accompanied by a point (small or large) going out under water for some distance. BUT, you can have underwater points that go out into the water for which there is no readily discernable dry land feature. Usually, these are man-made, or may be where a submerged creek channel runs up close to the dry land.
RIP-RAP: The term applies to any chunk rock area. But, the majority of times, the User means man-emplaced rock along roads, dam sides, or bridges which is used to break wave action and control erosion.
SLOPE: Same basic meaning as drop-off. However, drop-off is usually a change of depth of 30 degrees or more. 30 degrees or less would be more of a slope. i.e., a slower drop. Slopes don't hold fish unless there is current or cover present. COVER: Any structure or underwater feature which provides a fish with either safety or enough concealment to use as an ambush location.
CURRENT: Any movement of water, whether natural or artifically induced (wind is a good example).
Submitted by Jim Porter from Fla on 10/21/96
I like a heavier spoon, 1/2 - 3/4 - 1 oz. Several varieties work, Hopkins, Kastmaster, Mann-o-lure and the newer Pirk Minnow all are good. It is almost a requirement to have a decent graph and/or a flasher. Use your electronics to look for baitfish, in the fall they are often found in creek channels. They may also be on or around points, standing timber, drop-offs and vertical walls. Criss-cross at the depths where you think fish might be. Also look for the bass themselves. Active bass may appear as streaks moving across your graph, sometimes horizontal, other times diagonal. Bait in ball shaped formation are best, when the bait is tightly formed like that they are in a defensive posture and probably are being harrassed by predators. If the bait is widely scattered, they are probably feeling safer, so look for balls of bait. Try to position yourself directly over the fish/bait, this is where a flasher is good because it gives an immediate read-out. If you can see the depth the fish are holding, try to drop your spoon to that depth. To do that use the count down method. Put your reel in free-spool and drop the spoon directly under the boat. Count how long it takes to get to the bottom. Then divide that figure into the depth you are in and you will get an idea how fast your spoon drops. If you are in 30 feet and it take 10 seconds for your spoon to reach the bottom, then you know it is falling 3 feet a second. So if you can tell the fish are in 20 feet, then count your spoon down 7 seconds. Now there is the possibility that when your spoon stops, it's not on the bottom, but a fish has taken it on the fall. Either way you will want to know the depth. Once your spoon has dropped, try working it with rythmic lifts and drops. Experiment on how far to lift. Let it fall on a semi-slack line so it will flutter like a dying baitfish. It's best not to over work it. Occasionally, even let it just sit there. It may still move some in currents or spin a little. For tackle, I like a 6-6 heavy action rod. I use 14 pound test line, or one of the braids like fireline with a small swivel and about a 12-15" leader. I like to use a lighter wire hook, if you snag it, with the strong line you can bend the hook and pull it free. Excaliber hooks work great, since they are light wire and also hook the fish well. I find that a baitcast reel with a flippin' switch works well, then you can just push the thumbar and let the lure drop, then release the bar and you are already engaged. This helps when you have fish taking the bait on the drop. Spooning can be frustrating until you get those first few fish and get a feel for it. Then look out! A couple of my friends once got over a school of spotted bass at Oroville and caught 40 fish without moving the boat! One more thing, be prepared to lose some spoons! When you do get hung up, try shaking your rod on semi slack line, a lot of times this will shake the lure loose if it is hung in wood.
11/1/96 Pat Dilling from Northern CA
In the Fall the shad have finished their summer growth, and there is more poundage in the water than any other time of the year, just because there are more of them. Shad spawn in the spring, and the largest shad are actually in the spring of the year, (4" or so.) But the bass and other fish will have pounded the population all summer, so few are around by fall. The spawn has now reached meal size, and what your fish are feeding on is this year's spawn.
I've seen 2 schools of thought on schoolies: 1) Match the Hatch; and 2) Throw something that stands Out. Both work at times, and sometimes both work. For me, it depends on how active the bass are attacking the school. For the slash and burn bass that are cutting through the middle of the schools, just about anything the right size and color, (Match the Hatch), will get nailed by bass competing with each other. Spinner baits will white heads and white/blue speck skirts worked quickly through the active schools are always a favorite. Jerk Baits, either hard or soft, work well for fish just under the surface. Silver spoons, (another place for a blue strip), worked under the schools are good. If the water is relatively shallow directly under where the bass are busting, try dead sticking a silver blue 4" Slug-O. The biggest fish won't bother the actually school, they will come along a couple of minutes later and clean up the leavings. If you see a lot of single fish hitting in an area, then they may be corraling them for a later run. That's a good time to pull out those Blue/Chrome crankbaits that you have in the bottom of your box.
11/7/96 Paul from Fl
I think Paul's option #2 is what has been providing limited success for me. The bigger bass in our reservoirs will eat the schools of shad whenever they offer an easy meal, but they prefer the protein rich Rainbow Trout that live in all of our major impoundments. I think this is especially true for the larger bass. Think about all the big bass that are caught at Castaic and Casitas on Rainbow Trout A C Plugs or large Rainbow pattern soft baits. Most of the biologists attribute the monster bass that come from our south state impoundments to a steady diet of Rainbow Trout. Maybe it's high time we started paying more attention to Rainbow patterns and less to Shad.
11/7/96 KenB from Ca
I use to carry every color of plastic worms you could imagine, and a few you couldn't. I'd use a Combo-Selector and match primary and secondary colors to the water changing as the sun rose every hour. Then I hooked up with my current partner who is a master at the plastic worm. Since he was out catching me about 3 to 1, I decided to take some good advice. Now we carry precisely 2 colors, our Day Color, (Junebug), and our night color, (Black/Blue Tail) In the two clubs and 3 trails we've fished over the last 4 years, the worst final standings finish we've had was 3rd place. There are obviously a number of factors in our success, but the lack of a full range of colors shows if everything else is working, then color doesn't matter. It helps alot that he has ABSOLUTE 100% confidence in his baits. Carry as many colors as you need to get to that point.
11/22/96 Paul from Fl
Location, presentation, and confidence in your abilities are key to catching fish. When I first started fishing for bass I used to carry one lure, a six inch black plastic worm. Every evening I would go down the local pond and catch a few bass. Then as I got older and began to read about better techniques (from the pros) I realized how totally inadequate my approach was. Before you knew it I had three tackle boxes full of a multitude of lures in a wide variety of colors and sizes. But to tell you the truth I still caught most of my fish on 6" worms. Now I carry two colors of grubs and maybe three or four of worms and lizards. I also use a couple of different plugs and spinner baits. But the reality is I can pack all of my tackle into a small box. I spend a lot more time concentrating on where I would be if I was a bass rather then what lure appeals to me as a human.
11/22/96 Gerry from VA
I thought I would mention some things that I have picked up over the last few winters. Check your trailer and truck tire pressure, lower temps will reduce it. I carry a complete extra set of clothes in the boat with me, and one of those foil survival blankets. Even when I go in someone elses boat. If you should fall in and the water is under 50 degrees and the air is too, hypethermia will set in fast. Hyperthermia kills. If you do get wet take all your wet clothes off! This is no time for modesty, dry as quickly as possible and get your dry clothes on. If done quickly, you can save a days fishing and laugh about it later. If you don't warm back up quickly, go in. I have a ladder on my boat and one of the main reasons is winter safety. If you are heavily clothed and fall into cold water, getting back into the boat will be difficult. One suggestion offered by Ken B last year is to climb on the lower unit and use the trim switch to lift yourself. Speaking of heavy clothes, many folks wear a snowmobile suit for winter fishing. They do a great job of keeping you warm, but, if you fall in, they become a giant sponge and all that water becomes very heavy when you are trying to get back into the boat. If you do go out by yourself, consider wearing your pfd at all times, even when fishing. Be careful of frostbite, especially on high speed boat runs, make sure skin is not exposed to the wind and cold. Gloves, a hood, goggles and a neoprene skimask work for me. The chemically activated insoles and a similar device for hands work wonders to keep feet warm and warm up cold hands. I've seen several people end up in the water when they slipped on icy docks and ramps. This also can happen on the gunnel of a boat. Might be a good idea to carry a pee bucket instead of trying to stand on the edge when nature calls.
12/11/96 Pat Dilling from Northern CA
The spinnerbait will catch fish as deep as 40 ft., but that's not the most effective depth to use them at. They work best at 25 ft. or shallower. I generally recommend Willow leaf or small Colorado blades for deep spinnerbaiting. Large Colorado blades give too much lift and will pull the lure out of the strike zone too quickly. Here are my recommendations with regard to weight: 6 ft. or less - 3/8 oz. 6 - 10 ft. - 1/2 oz. 10 - 14 ft. - 3/4 oz. 14 - 25 ft. - 1 oz.
Retrives at depths below 12 ft. or so must be SLOW. Stopping occasionally to keep bottom contact is strongly recommended. With regard to types of area or cover to fish: It's pretty much a wide open field. They excel in stumps, brush and weeds. Spinnerbaits will also work well in rock piles, provided you don't actually let them sink into the rocks and become wedged. This will frustrate you in a hurry. Casting to deep weedlines will, many times, draw strikes before the bait has a chance to hit bottom. When working weedy areas, try to run the bait just above the weeds, so it ticks the tops of them. If you feel the bait get caught on weeds, snap it quickly to clear the blades. Lots of times this will draw a strike. With regard to color: I usually use one of two colors - black or white If I'm fishing semi stained or stained water, I will opt for the black. It gives the best silhouette. In clearer water, I will use the white. It looks most like a baitfish. When I fish deep, I generally slow-roll the bait using a S-L-O-W, steady retrieve, with an occasional pause to let the bait flutter back down to the bottom. If you are fishing around brush piles, you should be making contact with the brush and letting the spinnerbait flutter downward after pulling it over any limbs that you hit.
12/10/96 Curt Snow from RI