How to determine what to use when bass fishing can be a real challenge for all of us. Recently, I sent out an email to my subscribers with the question, “What’s your biggest challenge with bass fishing?” Several responses came back. A number of them were concerning how to identify and find what is best to use in the variety of conditions we are often confronted with. Here’s the first part of a five-part series of posts to help with this question. This post deals with the seasons and how they can effect your choice of techniques and baits consider to help narrowing things down for your next adventure. Enjoy this post and stay tuned for the next 4 key ingredients for selecting the right equipment to get “Kraken” bass!
How To Know What To Use When Bass Fishing.
How do you know what to use in the variety of different situations and lakes we frequent? If anyone truly knew the answer to this question, they could probably win millions of dollars fishing bass tournaments. Still, there are some common basic principles to help guide your selection of baits and techniques. Here is one of the vital pieces of information you should know for selecting a solid bait or technique at any different time of the year and get “Kraken” bass!
The first key ingredient for knowing what to use is understanding bass behavior throughout the year. Bass behave and respond differently depending on the season you are fishing. The swing in water temperatures throughout the year play a huge role in knowing what to use. Bass are cold blooded, so their body temperature and habits are often determined by the water they live in.
Below is a breakdown of how the seasons factors into making the right selection in your next bass fishing quest. Hopefully, you can use this system to help you catch more fish. Before you read more, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog so you can get email updates with more great posts like this that will help you keep “Kraken” Bass!
Seasonal Bass Behavior – Knowing What to Use.
Identifying the time of year and the season will help you locate bass and know what to use to target them. Bass behave differently in each of the four seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. Here’s some solid patterns and techniques which have been proven effective in catching bass at these different times of year.
Springtime Bass Fishing Techniques & Baits
Typically in the spring, the bass begin migrating to the shallows to start spawning. They will often stay up shallow until the spawn is done, all while feeding on bait fish and other creatures hanging out around them. Bass are usually fairly aggressive after a long, cold winter and like eating to help them get through the spawn. Another contributing factor to their aggressiveness is the spawn itself. They don’t like creatures interrupting their mating habits. In the spring, bass will hide in or near cover in shallow water. Picking baits that work effectively in skinny water is key to getting bites. Here’s some good baits and techniques to try while catching springtime bass.
Weightless Stick Baits
Texas rigging soft plastic stick baits like a senko or a yum dinger is a solid approach in the spring. You can throw these types of baits rigged weightless into cover and they will hit the water subtly. This way, you won’t spook the bass in the shallow water. Plus, they are great at going through cover when the bass are held up in or near thick stuff in the spring.
Finesse Shaky Heads
There is something about a light shaky head worm that really gets the bass chomping. It’s super subtle in the shallow water, so bass don’t feel threatened by it. Worms like the Zoom trick worm or Jackall flick shake are solid baits on a shaky head. Use a shaky head in either the 1/8 or 3/16 oz. size. Going light will help you move your shaky head through shallow cover without hanging up as much.
In the spring when bass are shallow, a square bill crankbait will draw a lot of reaction strikes. Plus, it deflects and bounces off shallow cover really well. Some good square bills to throw are the Jackall MC series or the Megabass S-crank. They produce some great bites! Other styles of crankbaits will also produce well in the spring. The key is to select a crankbait that will dive to the depth of where you feel the bass are holding and matching the color of your crankbait to the type of forage in the lake you are fishing.
For more options for springtime bass fishing, check out my post on my Best Springtime Bass Baits. Hopefully, it can give you some more ammo to catch bass in the spring. Click on the following link to view it: Spring Bass Baits
Summertime Techniques – What to Use Bass Fishing
In the summer, after the spawn, the bass spread out to sustain themselves on the forage found in the lake. With the warm water temperatures, the bass need to feed more frequently to sustain their cold-blooded metabolisms. Bass behavior in the summer is a lot like our behavior. We like to keep cool, and so do the bass. You can usually find them active in the mornings in the topwater when the air and water is cooler. When the sun is up and hot, look for bass hanging out deep in the shadows where it is cooler. You can find fish hanging out under matted vegetation this time of year as well. Here’s some ideas of solid baits and techniques to throw in the summer to help you catch more bass.
Topwater baits are dynamite in the summer. Bass are aggressive with the warm water temps; they will come out and smack those baits on the surface. Most of the time, the best bites are early in the morning and in the evening. Still though, you can get some sweet bites working a frog over the top of some matted vegetation in the middle of the day. Here’s a link to my post on more tips to get those topwater strikes in the summer: Topwater Fishing
Drop Shot Rig
When the bass are deep in the summer, a soft plastic worm on a drop shot rig is a solid set up. The drop shot rig can really get down deep and get them biting. It’s definitely at the top of the list for using in the summer to keep your bait deep, sitting barely out of the grass to attract attention. Check out the link to my post of some of my top 5 drop shot baits and how use them to get yourself “Kraken” bass in the summer: Best 5 Drop Shot Baits
Fall Techniques – What to Use Bass Fishing
Bass in the fall can be found scattered throughout the areas you fish, but they begin to concentrate on feeding heavier on shad and baitfish. Bass do this to try and pack on the pounds before the winter. This focus on baitfish as a dominant forage alters a bass’ feeding patterns a bit. You should concentrate on using shad or baitfish style baits to get bites at this time of year. Another thing to remember is that the bite will usually last all day in the fall, as compared to the summer when bites can slow down if it gets really hot in the mid-day. Moving shad style presentations are the ticket in the fall for catching bass. Here’s some of my favorites.
Throwing a swim jig with a swimbait trailer is a dynamite way to catch bass in the fall. You can fish a swim jig shallow and deep through cover pretty effectively. My favorite set up is the V&M pulse 1/2 oz. Watermelon Gill swim jig with a 3.8 Keitech Smallmouth Magic Swimbait trailer. Trim the skirt of the jig just a little to help give your swimbait more freedom to swim and add a little chartreuse on the tip of the tail of your swimbait with a spike it marking pen. Bomb your swim jig out and swim it along. You can get some pretty heavy strikes, so hold on!
Soft plastic flukes are a perfect baitfish imitation to get bites in the fall. My favorite way to fish a fluke is on a shaky head or Carolina rig. Dragging a fluke like a Yamamoto D-Shad along the bottom resembles a dying baitfish, and those bass can’t help but smash it in the fall.
Spinnerbaits and Chatterbaits work well in the fall for finding concentrations of bass. Use shad or bluegill style colors and work the water column to find your first bite. Once you get your first bite, remember what depth it was. Then, concentrate your efforts on keeping your baits in the depth zone where you got bit. Chatterbaits tend to work better in the shallower water whereas spinnerbaits work effectively in the deeper areas where fish may be holding. Depending on how heavy a bait you are using, spinnerbaits will get you down to the depth you need to get those feasting fall bass.
Winter Techniques & Baits – What to Use Bass Fishing
In the winter, bass prefer the warmest water they can find with good oxygen content. Typically, this is found deep on the bottoms of the lakes. Also, rocks can trap heat from the sun’s rays on the north shores of your fishing holes. Bass are mostly found hanging right on the bottom this time of year, so use baits and techniques that will get you down deep in front of them.
In addition, with the cold water, the bass become cold as well. They won’t move as fast or quick to run down a bait. They don’t need to feed as frequently to sustain themselves. Thus, slower, big baits are the best bet this time of year. Here’s some of my favorite techniques and baits for wintertime bass fishing.
The Carolina rig is a great way to get down in front of winter-time bass. It gets down deep, slowly crawling right along the bottom. Some of my favorite soft plastics on a Carolina rig are flukes and creature-style baits. Check out this post on the best Carolina rig baits to help give you some ideas of supplies and techniques to try on this great wintertime set up: Top Carolina Rig Baits
A football jig slowly crawling along the bottom with a docile craw trailer is a solid bass attractor in the wintertime. The bulk of the jig and the subtle swirl of the skirt will entice those lethargic bass to bite. In the winter, keep things really slow. Simply drag that jig along the bottom with ridiculous long pauses.
Jerkbaits are a known cold water bass catcher. The key is in the retrieve. Jerkbaits are the perfect imitation of a dying baitfish that is slowly suspending down and dying. Big bass love to come up and choke these down. Make sure you give it enough hangtime to get those big ones to bite.
Hopefully, this breakdown of what to use each season will help you when you are out on the water. Stay tuned to the blog for part 2 in the series of knowing what to use. I’m always excited to help others enjoy the awesomeness of fishing. Feel free to ask me further questions in the comments below. Also, snag some of my professionally filmed videos below on the best rigs for fishing soft plastics. The videos will help you if your not feeling quite confident enough with the techniques mentioned in this post. These videos include everything from tying these rigs up all the way through making your rig dance in the water. Keep yourself “Kraken!”