Bass fishing has been a popular pastime for more than a century; its beginning dates back to the 19th century. The sport has evolved over the years and has developed into a multi-billion dollar industry.
Bass can be found across the United States in freshwater and saltwater in many locations. Experienced bass anglers and beginners can join in on the fun of catching bass, with abundant locations, year-round opportunities to get out on the water, and famous tournaments for the pros. Follow along with our info and bass fishing tips to help you land more fish.
Common Types of Bass in North America
Smallmouth bass is a popular game fish. Originally native to the Mississippi River Basin up to the Saint Lawrence River-Great Lakes System, smallmouth bass can now be found in many cool-water lakes, rivers, tributaries, and reservoirs. Smallmouth bass range in size from about 2 to 7 pounds, although they can be larger. They prefer clear water and cooler temperatures than largemouth bass.
Largemouth bass is the state fish of 6 US states, exemplifying how popular this fish is. This fish is a famously difficult catch, fighting vigorously against anglers. Largemouth bass tend to live in clear, vegetated lakes, ponds, streams, and similar bodies of water across the United States. The record catch for largemouth is 22.4 pounds, but they average around 10 pounds, depending on location.
Striped bass are also called stripers or rockfish. They are typically the largest of all types of bass. Striped bass typically spend their adult lives in the ocean, but return to freshwater streams and tributaries to spawn. They are native to the East Coast, from the Gulf of Mexico to St. John’s River in Canada, but they have been introduced to the West Coast as well. The world record catch for striped bass weighed 78 pounds and 8 ounces.
Native to the southern United States ranging from the Mississippi River Basin across the Gulf states and into the Florida panhandle, spotted bass is another favorite for anglers. These bass are found in warmer, more turbulent waters than small and largemouth. They are smaller fish, averaging around 2-3 pounds. The world record spotted bass weight is 10.4 pounds.
Redeye bass are native to the Coosa River system of Georgia and Alabama, and are usually found in cool streams and rivers in mountainous areas. The world record catch of redeye is not documented, but is suspected to be around 5 pounds based on state records.
Shoal bass is native to subtropical waters in Florida and Georgia. This fish is named for its tendency to hide in shoal before attacking prey. The record catch weighed 8 pounds and 12 ounces, but average shoal bass weigh around 4 pounds. Shoal is classified as a near threatened species because of competition and unique habitat and spawning requirements.
How To Catch Bass
Bass are arguably the most popular gamefish, with anglers all over hoping to make an exciting catch. Before you can catch bass, however, you’ll need some basic knowledge of bass and how to catch them.
Prior to any fishing trip, you should research the species at your chosen location, weather and water conditions, and best practices for catching bass in that area and during that season. Learning the right techniques and gaining as much prior knowledge as possible will improve your success.
To successfully catch bass, you’ll need the right gear, ideal weather conditions, and more. Learn how to catch bass!
Bass Fishing Gear
The right gear will help you catch more bass. Bass fishing gear includes the essentials like fishing rods and reels, lures, line, and more. With the right knowledge, however, you can get the best gear specifically tailored to bass fishing. Check out our bass fishing gear reviews to find the best products available.
Some basic bass fishing gear you’ll need includes:
- Bass Fishing Rods
- Bass Reels
- Bass Rod and Reel Combos
- Bass Lures
- Bass Bait
- Bass Fishing Line
- Bass Hooks
- Bass Fishing Rigs
Bass Fishing Season and Ideal Weather Conditions
Yes, you can catch bass any time of the year, but there is an optimum time when you can catch bass. You will need to get to know the seasons and how they affect bass behavior to prepare for a fishing trip. Bass are creatures whose behaviors will vary with the seasons. Seasons determine where bass migrate or hide.
Spring, early summer, and fall are noted as the best seasons for bass fishing. Bass eat more in warmer water, making it easier to catch them in temperate waters. When water temperatures get too high or low, however, bass will swim deeper to find their ideal temperature, as it fluctuates less in deeper waters. Bass can handle temperature changes, but their ideal water temperature is between 55 and 85 degrees. Bass spawn in the spring and typically move to shallow waters during spawning.
Bass fishing is generally better in low-light conditions, so try to fish at dawn or dusk so that the fish are more eager to bite. Many anglers find success fishing for bass at night. You can catch bass in clear waters or muddy ones – you should just alter your strategy to match the clarity and light conditions.
Season depends on location, of course, so the best season for bass fishing depends on the weather and water temperature in your area. Talk to local fishing guides or do some research to see the best time to catch bass near you.
Bass Fishing Tips
The best bass fishing techniques will depend on a few factors: the type of bass you’re targeting, location, weather, water conditions, and more. There are a few tricks that you can try if the bass just aren’t biting, however. Try out these bass fishing tips!
Match Your Bait to Prey: Try to figure out what bass are feeding on and match your bait or lure to their current prey. They’ll be more likely to bite at something that looks like their typical meal. Prey can change seasonally and based on location, so do some research to figure out what bass are eating. A general pattern to follow is that bass tend to bite at crawfish early in the year and shad in the summer and fall.
Fish the Cover: Bass tend to hide under areas of heavy cover, so targeting these areas can be extremely fruitful. Cast in areas of heavy vegetation, near docks or piers, or around other marine structures. Use weedless lures to avoid snags.
Follow Spawning Season: Bass spawn in the spring, and typically move to shallow waters to do so. Follow them and fish the shallow waters in the spring to catch more bass. Again, areas with more cover, pockets, or coves are good targets, as bass want to lay their eggs somewhere that they’ll be protected.
Mix Up Your Strategy: Sometimes, even in a bass-rich area, it’s hard to get a bite. Be persistent, and change up your strategy. You may have a favorite bass lure, but try a different one to see if it triggers a bass to bite. If certain lures aren’t making the catch, another one might be more successful. You can also move locations, but often it’s the strategy, not the location that you need to change.
Best Places To Go Bass Fishing
The success of anyone fishing depends on their ability to know the right location. One has to master the art of identifying the best place to find bass fish if they are going to find success in bass fishing. Most states have certain lakes known for catching bass, like the best bass lakes in Pennsylvania, but other locations are known across the country for bass fishing. These locations stand out as the best places in the world to go for bass fishing:
Lake St. Clair
Lake St. Clair is surrounded by the larger Great Lakes, but makes up 50% of all sportfishing in the Great Lakes area because of its world-class fisheries. In the summer, it is not uncommon for anglers to catch 40 to 60 smallmouth bass in a four hour window. This lake is brimming with large and smallmouth bass.
Florida’s Lake Kissimmee and the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes has a stellar reputation among bass aficionados. Anglers have reported high catch rates and trophy-sized bass in this lake, and Florida bass fishing is fruitful in general. The most prominent bass found in Lake Kissimmee is largemouth, especially in late spring and early summer.
Lake Seminole in Georgia is another popular destination for bass fishing. This lake is heavily populated with large mouth, and while most catches will be around 2 pounds, there are 5 and 6 pound bass caught frequently as well.
Clear Lake in California has great bass fishing opportunities year-round. Known as a big bass lake, Clear Lake is home to many trophy large largemouth bass. Its warm, shallow water is full of nutrients, making it a great habitat for bass. The record bass caught in Clear Lake was 17.5 pounds.
Sam Rayburn Reservoir
The Sam Rayburn Reservoir is located in east Texas. The reservoir is well stocked with largemouth, spotted bass, white bass, and other species. Sam Rayburn Reservoir is a year-round fishery, especially for largemouth bass. Texas bass fishing is a notable bass location for this reservoir and others. Big bass are commonly found in the reservoir, with a record catch of 16.8 pounds.
Lake Mille Lacs
Lake Mille Lacs in Minnesota is known for its supply of smallmouth bass. The lake was named the number 1 bass lake by Bassmaster Magazine for two consecutive years for its large quantity of smallmouth bass and trophy-sized catches.
Bass Fishing Tournaments
Bass are arguably the most popular game fish, so bass fishing tournaments are huge, worldwide occasions. Some of the most famous bass fishing competitions are listed.
The most famous bass competitions are all sponsored by the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society.
Bassmaster Opens Series
This tournament targets upcoming anglers. It serves as a platform for one to introduce amateurs into bass fishing as a sport. The individual who qualifies in Bass Opens climbs the ladder to Bass Elite Series.
Bassmaster Elite Series
The Bassmaster Elite Series serves as the second level of bass tournaments. It has eight regular season events. Whoever wins the series will get automatic entry into Bassmaster classic. The sum of awards given out at the Elite Series reaches 11 million dollars.
The Bassmaster Classic stands out as a massive global event, happening annually each March. This competition is essentially the Superbowl for bass fishing. The prize for the champion is $300,000.