Bass Fishing Choices
Inside the Outdoors, June 08, 2009

When the mother of two recently approached me and asked, “What’s good for catching bass,” I told her the answer isn’t as clear cut as one may presume. I then proceeded to put forth the question that made it a bit easier to give her some suggestions.

“Do you want to use artificial or live bait?” I stated, narrowing down the selections. I would come to learn that most the live creations did not appeal to her and the subject of bass changed quickly to panfish, such as bluegill. Unfortunately, she would come to learn that a lot of what bass like, bluebill also fancy.

So, this is what I told her. Start with worms. A half a nightcrawler will catch a bass as well as a bluegill. “If you don’t feel like cutting the worm, used it whole, but do not hook it numerous times,” I continued. I then went on to explain that many people hook worms far too many times, and it doesn’t give the natural presentations.

I can’t impress upon anglers more that a fish may be looking for a meal that looks as though it accidentally fell into the water and not some twisted worm curled around a hooked knotted in circles. If I were a scaly creature nosing my way along the bottom looking for a meal and came upon a thing that smelled like worm, but didn’t look like it had just become submerged due to one reason or another, I may think twice whether or not to suck it in.

“Next,” I said, “don’t use too large or too small a hook.” I like to use a number 6. Hook it once in the collar and maybe one other place, but that is all. Let a lot of the tail dangle.

Third, I’m a bobber person. A wooden bobber will send your bait out a great distance away from where one is fishing. Fish can not see you, and they will eventually come to investigate what plopped in the water. For shorter distances, use plastic. Also plastic does not make as noise when it hits. That’s a real plus for fish that scared off by splashes.

Fourth, let the worm and the hook drift freeing in the water. The bobber should be four to five feet from the hook. When the fish strikes, let the fish take it momentarily. When it stops swimming plant the hook and reel it in.

Since I’m on the subject of live bait, no true bass fisherman has ever left shore on a boating excursion without a couple dozen shiners on board. Some people may call it cheating, but bass love to eat smaller species. These fish are definitely a favorite. Each angler who has used them in the past has his favorite place he hooks them. Personally, I have hooked them in the bottom lip or under the dorsal fin. Whatever you do, stay away from the spinal column. You will kill the fish instantly if the barb penetrates anywhere along this area.

There are a lot of lures available for the bass fishermen. Always keep in mind, this fish is very territorial and does not like noisy things swimming in its locale. So spinners, spinnerbaits, blade baits and Mister Twisters and excellent baits to use for bass. Of course, these are just a tip of the iceberg. There are so many lures and baits bass will hit, I consider these fish one of the easiest to catch.

I was talking to a chap who told me he was having a grand old time catching lots of smallmouth just below the Sleepy Hollow Causeway. All one need do is drop a crawler on a hook and let the ripples take it, and presto, he had a fish. Not surprising, I found most o Loyalhanna Creek to be that way.

Thinking back to my premier fishing days when my father-in-law used to take me fishing, we would often visit a farm pond. This place was choice for big bass. It was fun because these fish would hit anything that acted natural as part of the environment. I remember catching grasshoppers and hooking them, and less than a minute I’d have a fish. That led me to believe that if the real thing produced, then Rebel’s crickhopper would also come through for me – and did.

A matter of fact, Rebel’s Teeny Wee Crawfsih was a fish getter no matter where I went, and this lure worked on trout, bass, and other everything else that liked these bottom browsers.

My second most wonderful lure was the black and silver Rapala. That was definitely my bass favorite. I know I had larger fish, such as pike, hooked on them as well, but these fish always broke my line and high-tailed off to never never land with it. Jointed Rapala on lakes never let me down. If it acts like a fish, and looks like a fish, it will surely catch another, a joy to every angler’s dream – that is unless the fish takes off with the lure, then a different type of expression breaks out.

Jitterbugs are my third favorite, particularly fished just as the sun is rising or going down. Work the shoreline waters of a pond or lake. As a merchant, I found more people asked for the black-colored lures as opposed to some of the other picks.

Holographic swimbaits entered the picture when I still had my store. Since then a number of companies are continuing to manufacture them which proves that they must be producing. These are plastic imitations that look exactly like small fish.

And then there are the frog imitations. Spro makes outstanding replicas such as green tree, natural green, natural red, rainforest black, rainforest yellow and tropical white. In addition, its shad look-alikes are manufactured with Gamakatsu hooks which guarantee a sharp edge every time. Both the frogs and the lures have proven history of catching bass.

So mom, if you get a chance to read this, I hope you can see that there is no clear cut answer. On the other hand, for all intended purposes, if you are taking the grandkids fishing, maybe you should stick with worms for now. As long as your hooks are sharp, you shouldn’t have any problems reeling in a fish or two or three.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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