USE THESE LARGEMOUTH BASS TIPS TO LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT MAKES THESE PREDATORS FEED, SPAWN, AND THRIVE IN MULTIPLE ENVIRONMENTS.
The largemouth bass is probably the most well-known freshwater fish among anglers today. I got hooked on bass fishing some 35 years ago and have never stopped pursuing them.
Even though I now focus on more saltwater species, I always make time to catch this fantastic fish. In addition, my son actively fishes for largemouth bass in lakes and ponds around the South Florida area, just like I did years ago. I have to admit since starting to fish for a bass again more in recent years. I now remember why my obsession grew so much all those years ago.
Their abundance and aggressive feeding make them great fish to chase for new and seasoned anglers. This guide will explore everything we can about the largemouth bass, from habitat to some of the best baits to catch this excellent sport fish.
Keep reading to find out why so many anglers chase this fish from around the world. These are just some largemouth bass tips to help you, but there are countless more. Please comment on your experiences with these fish and provide any tips and tricks you would like, so you can help others get hooked on largemouth bass, too.
Bass are excellent for beginner freshwater fisherman
For those starting out in freshwater fishing largemouth bass species are the most popular species to start catching. They eat both live and fake baits that are plentiful around the United States.
Largemouth Bass Overview
Species: Largemouth Bass: Micropterus salmoides
Habitat: Found all over the country in lakes, rivers, and ponds.
World record: George Perry 22 pounds 4 ounces, Manabu Kurita 22 pounds 4 ounces.
Feeds on: Small fish, crayfish, worms, crickets, snakes, small ducks, and other small prey.
Do largemouth bass change color?
The distinctive color of largemouth bass is dark green on the back with olive or brown on the sides and a light belly sometimes; the stomach is entirely white.
If you have caught enough Bass, you would have noticed that not all Bass are colored the same. Some are darker or lighter than others. Some fish possess almost no patterns, while others are brilliantly striped and marked.
If you have caught largemouth bass in clear water with sufficient cover, these fish typically will have darker and more precise markings.
Fish caught from deeper water typically take on a more faded look. There are more factors for sure to the coloring variations of largemouth bass, and we would love for you to discuss this in our comment section.
LARGEMOUTH BASS TIPS:
- All Bass are not the same color.
- Fish caught in deeper water typically look more faded.
- Fish caught in clear water have darker clear markings.
Growth rate of a largemouth bass
Like other fish, largemouth bass size will be determined by the quantity of the food source available and the size of the fish’s habitat available. An average food source bass can exceed 2 pounds the first year in growth; however, the norm is around ½ pounds a year.
It is interesting to note that Bass being studied typically do not grow well in the muddy water because they depend a lot on eye sites to feed. Water clarity should be 15 inches and preferably up to 24 inches for best growth. You can read a great study done by James T. Davis and Joe T. Lock on bass growth rate by going here.
This is not to say you can’t catch and find Bass in dirty water because you certainly can; some great days on the water have come from dirty, cold water.
Largemouth bass tips to remember when facing dirty water. Fish shallower and tighter to cover like logs, trees, and stumps. When water has been stained for more than a few days, Bass will tend to strike as food becomes harder to spot. So when your bait is presented close to fish, they will take the opportunity to eat.
Geographical range of largemouth bass
The largemouth bass originally was stocked throughout most of the united states east of the Rockies and into Texas lakes and rivers.
Because of the wild popularity of the largemouth bass, its Geographical location can now be found in most parts of the world. Their current range includes the entire United States minus Alaska, Southern Canada to Northern Mexico, and Central and South America.
Japan is home to some monster largemouth bass
Japan has some excellent largemouth bass fishing that encompasses Japan, including several islands around Japan. Introduced back in 1925, the fish are thriving and reproducing in great numbers.
These fish are doing so well that it is now home to a world record bass. This fish was 22 pounds and 4.97 ounces that was caught on Lake Biwa by Manabu Kurita’s.
This fish, under IGFA rules, has tied George Perry’s giant Bass. In-fisherman wrote an excellent piece on Japanese bass fishing. You can read more about that here.
Largemouth bass tips:
- Bass typically grow about 1/2 pound per year.
- Bass can be found in almost every part of the United States.
- Japan is home to giant largemouth bass.
- Bass can tolerate icy conditions with proper water depth.
What does largemouth bass eat?
Bass are very aggressive feeders and will not hesitate to take down prey that is much larger than itself. Bass will eat anything from other fish to baby ducks and everything in-between. Let’s get into more detail about some of the common forage largemouth bass feed on.
Bream / Sunfish: A very abundant freshwater fish in the sunfish family.
This food source of the largemouth bass is native to North America and is commonly found east of the Rockies.
Largemouth bass tips: Match the hook to the bait you are using. Smaller live baits require a scaled back hook. Larger baits, scale the hook size up.
This fish lives in most lakes, rivers, and ponds and prays to hungry Bass.
Fishermen can easily catch these fish using a light line, a small bait hook, and bread or earthworms.
You can quickly fill up a bucket in no time.
Be sure not to overcrowd your bait bucket and use an aerator to keep your bait in good shape for more extended periods.
Shad: Shad, rank at the top of my list when you find them. Largemouth bass and just about any other game fish that feeds on other small fish can’t resist these baits.
We have had 100 plus fish days when finding shad on the water. You must throw a cast net on these baits to get them. Keep in mind these baits are hard to keep alive so do not blackout your well with them.
Largemouth bass tips to remember when fishing live bait, change out your water often and don’t overcrowd your buckets when fishing from the bank.
Gizzard shad typically run in large schools, and you can see them popping at the surface. You’ll also see them getting chased and crashed by predatory fish making their location well known.
Finding these shad can be a gold mine for catching large-quality fish. If you do not have access to a cast net, that is okay; try matching the hatch as best as possible with artificial baits.
If the shad are in the 3 to 4-inch range, throw lures that closely resemble that size as well.
Shiner: Shiner is a well-known bass prey. There isn’t much better bait if and when you can get a sizeable golden shiner. Typically, bass anglers will make a trip to their local bait and tackle store and get a few dozen shiners that are put into a bucket with freezing ice-cold green water, and off they go.
When they go from that ice-cold water to much warmer water, they go into shock and die rather quickly. But, on the other hand, wild gold shiners are a thing of beauty when you can find them.
Typically, these baitfish will hang around weedy areas, and when you can catch one, there are plenty more around to get.
Largemouth bass tips: Wild gold shiner cant be resisted by large bass. Catching them are not hard if you find them. Learn more about how to catch your own bait.
Catching them is not hard once you find them. Use a light line and a small gold hook baited with some small bread. If you do have a wild shiner spot, be sure to keep chumming the area with oatmeal and bread to keep these treasures from leaving.
We have shiner spots that have been produced for years by not harvesting too many and continuing feeding them.
Largemouth bass tips to remember if you want your bait to to go deep. Try hooking your live bait right above the anal fin and slowly lift your rod up to force the bait’s head down.
Frogs: Frogs are a natural food source for largemouth bass. Frogs lay many eggs in and around the water’s edge in lakes, ponds, and rivers. These eggs soon turn into what we know as tadpoles. Depending on water conditions, it typically takes between 6-21 days on average from egg to tadpole.
Largemouth bass and other small fish have no problem eating these at every life cycle stage.
Crayfish: Bass love crayfish, and so do we when targeting largemouth bass. Crayfish look like tiny lobsters and can be found in lakes, rivers, and ponds. To find these baits, you will need a small net or use your hands if need be.
Slowly left up rocks, small logs, and other structures that can be moved around the water’s edge. If you spot a crayfish after lifting a rock, you will want to position the net behind the crayfish because they swim backward using their powerful tail.
Largemouth bass tips: Keep an eye out for small snakes and other creatures you may not be interested in catching or seeing when lifting rocks for crayfish.
Once your net is in position, take your hand or stick to scare the cray backward into your net. Keep in mind we have sometimes found more than just crayfish when lifting rocks and logs. Keep an eye out for small snakes and other tiny creatures you may not be interested in catching or seeing.
Crayfish will reach adult size in about four months and can have a lifespan from 3 to 8 years. Typically, by the end of June, crayfish begin their annual molting. Molting is the shedding of the crayfish’s hard exoskeleton, leaving the new body soft for a short period.
Largemouth bass tips:
- Bass will eat almost anything it can get into its mouth.
- Bass love other small fish, crayfish, frogs, works, and even small ducks.
- Match the hatch if you cant find live bait and you see bass feeding on live bait in the lake you are fishing.
- Use small hooks and bread to catch small sunfish or shiner to use as bait for bass.
Habitat of largemouth bass
One reason these fish are so popular is that they are very adaptable and can thrive in almost any warm-water habitat. These areas can consist of lakes, rivers, ponds, and small creeks. In addition, Bass can live in clear deep lakes or smaller pools within the backcountry.
Bass’s ideal habitat will be one with water temperature around 65 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit with adequate vegetation that can provide cover and food for these fish’s necessary growth and health. In addition, water depth is essential when temperatures fall, and Bass needs to retreat to deeper water to ride out winter conditions.
Lakes: Largemouth bass thrives in lake systems of all sizes. From small ponds to massive lakes like lake Okeechobee. Larger lakes that support the proper food density can produce real trophy fish.
Rivers: River systems can hold fantastic bass fishing. Look for down trees, cut-outs from flowing water, and any other cover that could hold baitfish and provide ambush points. Also, finger canals that run into rivers offer an excellent opportunity to catch Bass.
Ponds: Ponds are ideal for starting younger kids as finding the fish can be much easier. In small ponds, look for any structure as these areas could hold a lot of fish.
Depending on the size of the pond, there probably isn’t giant fish due to the size and bait population; however, there could be larger quarantines of fish grouped up in smaller areas.
Be ready, though, because it’s not uncommon for small ponds to have a few larger fish, mainly if they were transported in from outside lakes.
Largemouth bass tips:
- Bass’s ideal habitat will be water temps around 65 to 90 degrees.
- Larger lakes that supply abundant food will grow large Bass.
- In rivers, look for finger canals that run into main river channels.
- Small ponds can be great for catching much fish in a concentrated area.
What to look for when bass fishing
SHOW LOVE TO LILY PADS
Lily pads are great spots to target bass as they will use these areas to hide and hunt. In addition, they will use the shade to cool off in some months when water temps get too hot.
LOGS AND TREES
Down trees, brush piles, and logs make excellent places to target Bass. These natural and artificial structures hold bait and Bass.
Rocks are a great place to target largemouth bass. These rocks provide shelter and warmth on cold days when the sun heats them.
Vegetation: Bass like the ability to hide and strike; vegetation is the perfect ambush point to suck down a tasty bait.
Rocks: Rocks provide another excellent ambush point for Bass. Rock ledges that fall off to deep water make an ideal area for Bass to patrol and hunt smaller fish. Largemouth bass tips to remember: Look above the water to get an idea of what is below the surface.
With the advancements in sonar and technology, you can see a complete 3d image of what is under the water now.
Logs and trees: Logs and trees are iconic when searching for Bass. These structures provide cover for all types of sunfish, crayfish, and bait that Bass eat, not to mention it provides excellent cover and protection for Bass.
Largemouth bass tips: Keep in mind that just because you find these brush piles doesn’t mean that the fish will be stacked on them. These brush piles still need to be found in suitable locations.
Finding and fishing these piles near shallow areas could be a great find during spring months when Bass move out of the winter locations and get ready to spawn. Scout.com wrote a great article on how to fish brush piles for prespawn Bass.
Largemouth bass tips:
- Bass like to hide in all types of vegetation.
- Bass will use logs and down trees as ambush points.
- Springtime brush piles close to shallow water could hold large fish.
- Rocks that fall from shore could provide fish heat in the winter months.
Temperature bass can handle
Largemouth bass can tolerate a wide range of temperatures; they are found throughout the United States and in other warm climate countries. Temperatures between 65 -90 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for the largemouth bass. However, Florida Strain bass can tolerate higher temperatures above the ’90s.
Colder areas in the north that freeze typically aren’t a problem for these Bass as they will seek out deeper areas and survive under the ice for up to 6 months as long as oxygen levels are good. We used small crankbaits in lakes in New Jersey that didn’t freeze over within fast-moving water and have produced quality fish.
Largemouth bass tips:
- Bass can tolerate an extensive range of temperatures.
- Florida Strain bass can tolerate higher temperatures that can reach above the ’90s.
- Bass can survive in frozen water as long as there is enough oxygen and ice-free water at depth.
- Slow your bait presentation down in colder months.
- Try fishing a Carolina rig.
Spawning times for largemouth bass
Largemouth Bass will follow a different routine depending on the time of year. Let us look at some of these and what they mean to you when targeting these great predators.
Bass will start to spawn when the water temperature is between 55 and 65 degrees and typically in water depths of 1 to 4 feet.
Largemouth bass tips to remember: Always wear a good pair of polarized sunglasses to spot bedding areas easier.
Nesting can be done in much deeper water if the water is clear. I have personally fished rock quarries with ultra-clear water and have seen bass nesting in a depth of more than 10 feet.
Depending on where you live, the males or buck will construct a circular site by sweeping the site away with its tale. Typically, the nest will be double the size of the male guarding it. You can observe the male patrolling the area within a 6-foot radius.
Springtime bedding bass
Females will commonly spawn two times, and it’s not uncommon for a third spawn to happen. The female releases half of its eggs during the first spawn, while the second spawn releases the other half.
Because males work so hard to protect the spawning area, it is not uncommon for males to lose so much weight they will perish.
Remember, males will guard the nest and keep the spawn area clean of silt until their eggs hatch.
In the Southern part of the United States, eggs hatch for around 2 to 4 days, which has a lot to do with water temperature.
Males will not abandon the fry once born but will guard them until they roam independently, which can take weeks.
Largemouth bass tips:
- Bass spawn when temperatures get between 55 and 65 degrees in springtime.
- Females can spawn anywhere from 1 to 3 times in spring.
- Springtime can get you your most giant Bass of the year.
- Throw artificial lizards, crayfish, and other baits in and around the nest.
- The larger fish is the female on a bass nest.
What are top artificial lures for bass?
The list of artificial baits that Bass will eat is endless, and we would need another complete guide on all the baits you could use. But for this guide, we will give a high overview of some of the more popular baits that bass anglers use when targeting these fish.
Culprit Original Worms
Plastic worms are probably the oldest method used when targeting Bass and one of the most popular. A Texas rig set up with a plastic worm is one of the first rigs someone will learn and probably use to target these fish.
COLOR CHOICES ARE ENDLESS
A basic rule to follow is this: Bright color baits in muddy water. In clear water, fish light colors. In dirty water, the fish will have hindered visibility, and bright colors like oranges and yellows are more accessible for the fish to see—fish worms with bright color tails like red or chartreuse.
Basic rule to follow is this: In muddy waters, fish a bright color bait. Clear water fish light colors.
Here are our top precise watercolors that we love to fish. Of course, our number one color must be motor oil, followed by pumpkin seed and smoke.
A primary way to fish this rig is to cast out and let the rig sink to the bottom. Watch your line as it falls as many strikes happen on the fall, and you will notice your line tic or stop suddenly. This is the strike. Pay attention when worm fishing, as the strikes can be very subtle.
When your worm makes it to the bottom, pause a second, then slowly lift your rod and let your worm fall back down. You should also give your rod tip a shake when you lift your rod to give some extra action to the worm. Then let the worm fall; this is where most of your strikes will happen. Again, watch and drop for strikes at this point.
Live Target Swimbait.
Swimbaits have made huge strides in how they look and swim. Live target makes a fantastic bait that both look real and swims real. Check these baits out here.
Some largemouth bass tips for working the live target swim bait. Let the bait sink to the bottom, lift your rod tip, crank up, and let the bait fall to the bottom. The strike will happen in the fall, so be ready.
Spinner and buzz baits
BOOYAH Double Willow Counter-Strike
Spinnerbaits are great baits that can be fished at all water depths. Buzz them on top or fish them at the bottom with a slow retrieve while holding your rod tip low. The same principle of color applies to the skirts of these baits. Muddy water fish bright color skirts. In clear water fish light color skirts.
These baits are very versatile as you can hit all areas of the water column. Buzz them on top by holding your rod tip up, so the blades just break the surface or are right below the surface to throw a wake. Fish them off the bottom in certain situations, and you could crush the fish using this method.
Crankbaits and Hard baits
Crankbaits from Livetarget and Rapala
Crankbaits are the go-to staple lures every bass angler should have in their arsenal.
These baits come in all different patterns and depth ranges.
A largemouth bass tip slowly twitches these stick baits right above the surface to trigger strikes. This method can produce significant time if you have weeds or grass that sits below the surface a foot or more.
It would help if you had a mix of these baits that run from shallow to deep in crayfish, shad, and sunfish patterns. Stick baits like the original Rapala are deadly when twitched then paused around the surface in certain situations.
Largemouth Bass tips to remember
Match the hatch
keep hooks sharp
Springtime turn to the shallows
Wear polarized sunglasses
Match hook size to the size of live bait
Stay quite when walking the bank
Use surface baits early morning and evenings
Do not overcrowd the bait buckets when keeping live bait
List of some outstanding largemouth bass fishing guides
Chattanooga Fishing Guides – Enjoy a professional bass fishing guide trip on beautiful Chickamauga Lake in Chattanooga, Tennessee!
Worldwide Bass Fishing Adventures: Trophy bass fishing trips in Mexico at Lake El Salto, Lake Baccarac, Lake Comedero, Lake Huites, Lake Guerrero, Lake Agua Milpa, and Lake Mateos. Also, trophy peacock bass trips in Brazil.
List of other websites that we feel bring value and can you learn more about fishing
Lake-link – The Midwest’s largest site dedicated to fishing! Lake-Link provides fishing reports, topographical maps, a lake database, message boards, articles, fishing tips and tactics, moon charts, and more!
Bassresource.com – One of the largest and best resources on everything bass fishing.