Gone Outdoors

The Best Ways to Catch Largemouth Bass

by Larry Anderson

Fishermen target largemouth bass for a variety of reasons. The fish are common in many lakes, rivers and reservoirs; they are known to put up a strong fight; and they can be caught in various habitats, from shallow to deep. There are many fishing tournaments organized around largemouth bass, though anglers who only fish from time to time also can enjoy fishing for bass. For the best ways to catch largemouth bass, read on.

Live Bait and a Bobber

While some bass anglers refuse to use live bait -- it's not allowed in tournaments -- minnows, leeches and nightcrawlers can help anglers catch bass when nothing else will. This is especially true under cold-front conditions or when bass are in a negative feeding mood. One of the easiest ways to present live bait is to impale it on a hook and fish it below a bobber. Find a weedline or other area with submerged vegetation and set your bobber so the live bait hangs about a foot off the bottom.

Wacky-rigged Worms

A wacky rig consists simply of a hook and a straight-tailed worm. The worm should be hooked right in the middle so it forms a U-shape when it is pulled through the water. The wacky rig is especially productive for bass around shallow cover like overhanging trees and boat docks, but also can be used when bass are suspended in deep water. The best way to fish the wacky rig is to cast it out and let it sink, gently sweep your fishing rod about two feet, and reel in the slack. Repeat this process until the worm is back to the boat, and do not hesitate to change the amount of time you let the worm sink, or how aggressively you reel it in.

Topwater Baits in Low-light Conditions

While sunny conditions often send largemouth bass to deeper water or closer to cover, low-light conditions that occur at dawn and dusk, or when the weather is cloudy, bring bass into the open to feed. Cast topwater lures like poppers and buzzbaits over submerged vegetation and be ready for explosive strikes. Topwater baits are especially effective in warm-weather months and when the surface of the water is calm.

Plastic Worms in Heavy Cover

Bass often bury themselves in heavy cover like aquatic vegetation (emergent and submerged), fallen timber, trees that overhang the shoreline and under boat docks. Texas-rigged, 7-inch plastic worms are good for drawing bites in such cover. Use stout rods and reels and at least 14-pound test line and cast the worm into the thickest cover you can find. Let the worm drop to the bottom, jig it a few times and reel it back in. If you are fishing in areas where there are big bass, consider trying a 10-inch plastic worm; a bigger lure often draws bites from bigger fish.

Jigworms on Weedlines

While largemouth bass are often thought of as shallow-water, heavy-tackle fish, many bass move to deep weedlines when the water temperature gets above 70 degrees. Deep weedlines typically are found in eight to 20 feet of water, depending on the clarity of the water. One of the best methods for catching bass from such deep-water hideouts: Jigworms, which consist of a 1/8- to 1/4-ounce mushroom-head jig and a 4- to 7-inch plastic worm. Cast the jigworm along the deep weedline, let it sink to the bottom and retrieve it back slowly. Bumping it along the bottom also can be effective.

Lipless Crankbaits Over Weedbeds

Lipless crankbaits are good lures for covering a lot of water and catching a lot of bass. Oftentimes, bass are located in expansive weedbeds and it takes a long time to find them if you are using a slow-moving bait. Lipless crankbaits, on the other hand, can be cast long distances and retrieved quickly, which allows you to determine where the bass are hiding. The best way to fish lipless crankbaits is to reel them in just fast enough that they tick the top of the weeds. When they do, give your rod tip a jerk. This rips them off the weeds, which creates a disturbance in the water and leads bass to hit the lure.

About the Author

Larry Anderson has been a freelance writer since 2000. He has covered a wide variety of topics, from golf and baseball to hunting and fishing. His work has appeared in numerous print and online publications, including "Fargo Forum" newspaper. Anderson holds a Bachelor of Arts in print journalism from Concordia College.