Habits and Angling for Largemouth Bass
The Largemouth Bass is the top choice for most fishermen and can be found in rivers, streams, lakes, reservoirs and ponds in every state. The popularity of this fish has spawned an enormous industry in tackle and baits as the Largemouth Bass will consume almost anything it can get in its mouth. An aggressive predator, the Largemouth Bass is at home in almost any water that’s well oxygenated and temperatures ranging from 60 – 75 degrees. Spring spawn is the pinnacle for bass fisherman which is when the male Largemouth Bass becomes the most aggressive when protecting the bed and small fry. Prior to the spawn, the female Largemouth Bass is at its heaviest. Within the industry, the “Catch and Release” philosophy has caught the attention of professional fishermen which has lead to increased numbers. The species has many names including the widemouth bass, Florida bass, black bass, bigmouth bass, bucketmouth bass, green bass, green trout, southern largemouth and northern largemouth.
Largemouth Bass feed often but it’s based on current water and weather conditions and the layout of the body of water you are fishing. Cover is the key and the triggers are many including an incoming weather front, rain or more typically early morning and late evening. The last two are favored by anglers as its proven these time periods are optimum for feeding bass. When feeding, Largemouth Bass will consume minnows, shad, crappie, perch, crawfish, surface bugs, frogs and many others and is the reason bass fishermen carry a wide variety of baits when fishing for Largemouth Bass.
Life Cycles and Growth Rates for Largemouth Bass
There are a variety of strains of Largemouth Bass but the Florida strain bass appear to be the most prolific and the largest. State Game and Fish Departments will stock this strain when possible because of its size and aggressive behavior. Within the U.S., regions vary for the ability of the Largemouth Bass to thrive and grow. Although found as far north as Canada, the southern border of the U.S. is the limit for their availability. This range changes the color and growth rate as well as minor feeding habits depending on what’s available. Aside from extreme northern regions of Canada, the U.S. can be broken up into quadrants of Northeast, Northwest, Southeast and southwest. Each is easily labeled by its climate and conditions which determines feeding habits and growth rates. Rule of thumb is the colder the climate, the shorter the growing season. Conversely, the warmer the climate, the longer the growing season. Hence, Largemouth Bass in the south can average in the 10lb+ class while those in the north will average in the 4-5lb range. Water conditions, depth and clarity as well as food supplies will impact the growth rate of the Largemouth Bass.
As a fry (under 2”), Largemouth Bass will run in schools. Adults, however, are loners. They only pair up during the spawn but are not interested in fighting over food. Where there are more than one contemplating a meal, such as a crawdad, you might assume that the largest would prevail but there is no scientific evidence of why one bass will prevail over another.
How Can I Catch A Largemouth Bass
For the beginner, there are rules of thumb that apply regardless of what part of the country you reside or what body of water you are fishing:
• Fish at sunrise or sunset
• Always be on the water prior to the arrival of a front (storm) or afterwards
• Your luck improves during the spawn (catch, release females)
• Carry a white skirted jig, rattle type lure, top water popper and Texas worm rig
• Live bait if prevailing laws allow their use
• Bait casting or Spinning reels ok, but minimum 12lb test line (line type your choice)
Where you cast can be significant depending on the body of water and whether you’re in a boat or on shore. Generally speaking, if Bass are present, be creative with your retrieve and pay attention to cover. Weed lines and drop-offs are like magnets. If you are on a lake with boat ramps, these can provide the cover Bass love. For the beginner, rod and reel combinations are not as important as getting out and enjoying the hunt. Most, if not all, bass fishermen started young and worked their way into frenzy over the Largemouth.
Learning How To Be A Bass Fisherman
The best teacher is get out on the water. Hang around the sports shops like Bass Pro Shops, Cabelas and Sportsman’s Warehouse and engage with the sales staff asking questions. Local bait dealers can be an immense source of information. Seasoned Bass fishermen are sometimes tight lipped but occasionally will provide you with information about the local bodies of water but not exactly “where” you should go on that body of water. Developing relationships with the staff is key to success.
Engage on YouTubefor fishing techniques. There’s a wealth of information out there on baits, lures and tackle by the pros as well as the weekend novice. You can learn a lot from these people. Take note on some of the established pros like Bill Dance or Al Linder as well as attend some of the local tournaments in your area. Fishermen love to talk but won’t necessarily give away their secrets.
Fishing for the Largemouth Bass is both and art and a science. Pro’s mentioned above can teach both when understanding the cover and water conditions that Bass prefer. The science of Thermoclines or the vision of a Bass may or may not improve your catch but it’s a process of understanding the Largemouth Bass.
Where to go for Some Great Bass Fishing
Chances are you are already familiar with the water in your area. If not, or you are new to the area, check out your local chamber of commerce, Fish & Game offices and the local sports shops. One or the other can provide you with locations, maps and guidance on where to start. State Game & Fish departments often stock local waters with Bass and other species and those stockings are usually listed on their websites. Head out to those lakes and ponds first.
If you’re familiar with your area but headed out for Largemouth Bass for the first time, the above suggestions are good starts as well.
Each state has varying fishing regulations. It is important to educate yourself on them before going out to fish. Not all game fish have open seasons so know the rules and understand the limits both daily and in aggregate.