Catching Largemouth Bass 101

How to Catch Largemouth Bass - Fishing Tips & Tricks

How to Catch

Tackle & Best Bait for Largemouth Bass

Top 10 Tips Spinning & Baitcasting Tackle
Largemouth Bass Season Best Live Bait
Where to Catch Best Artificial Lures
Ask a Captain Q&A's Best Fly Rods

The Largemouth bass is possibly the most famous freshwater sport fish in the world. Distributed across the world because of its great fishing, Largemouth bass now exist in places where they never lived before – from the west end of the United States all the way over to Asian countries like Japan. Because the Largemouth bass is such a heavily targeted species, we fortunately know a lot about it. Over a century of tournaments, amateur knowledge, and scientific research all come together to make us all better fishermen. This article presents the whole picture – the “101” – for Largemouth bass.

 Largemouth Bass Season

Brooke Thomas holding a nice bass. Photo Courtesy of Brooke Thomas

This is one of the greatest things about this fish – there really is no “when.” You can catch Largemouth bass any day of the year, rain or shine, day or night. All you need to know is where the fish will be during those times. Unlike many saltwater fish that we love to catch that migrate hundreds or even thousands of miles each season as they search for optimum water temperatures and food, bass are basically trapped within a small confined area, such as a lake or river. It is within these lakes and rivers that you need to study their behavior to find where they will be at different times, which is discussed in the next section.

 Where to Catch Largemouth Bass

Largemouth bass caught in Suwannee River.

Largemouth bass occupy just about every habitat type in a freshwater lake or river where they are found. Geographically, this includes any slow moving river (such as the ones we have here in the southeast) and any freshwater lake that doesn’t get too cold in the winter. These fish have been distributed in so many places that if the temperature is right, chances are there have been Largemouth bass stocked there.

Throughout the seasons, as well as the days, Largemouth bass occupy different habitats. In general, the big bass will be close to shore during the spring when they are spawning, in early summer mornings, and in winter afternoons. Here, they’ll be hanging around vegetation edges, fallen trees, residential docks, and any other structure they can find. During most of the time besides those mentioned above, the big bass will be further offshore near underwater structures such as large trees and changes in depth profiles of the lake.

 Tackle for Largemouth Bass

Largemouth bass caught on medium tackle.

It’s possible that there has been more tackle specifically designed for catching Largemouth bass than any other fish out there. Overall, any type of tackle can be used, but each has its distinct advantages when tackling bass. In terms of size, all of the following types of tackle should be centered round a “medium” size: capable of holding 10-to-20 pound test line. This will allow you to have fun catching the little guys, and hold your own against the big ones.

More on Best Line and Leaders for Largemouth Bass

Spinning Tackle for Largemouth Bass

Spinning tackle is very commonly used for Largemouth bass, because it is very easy to master, which is important for throwing the complicated lures that work really well for bass. For example, some topwater lures work by what is called “walking the dog,” which requires much finesse in giving short jerks and reeling at the same time to produce a zig-zag movement for the lure. This would be quite difficult, but of course could be done, using a baitcasting reel, but is much easier using spinning tackle. Spinning tackle is also great for flipping soft plastics in tight spaces such as under docks and overhanging trees.

Baitcasting Tackle for Largemouth Bass

Largemouth bass and baitcasting rod.

Modern baitcasting (also known as conventional) tackle was basically designed for catching big bass. If anyone has ever caught a bass over 5-or-6 pounds, you know that they can pull, and pull hard. Sometimes, when you hook into a nice bass near vegetation or a residential dock, the fish pulls you into that structure and gets tangled, often resulting in a lost fish. The reel on a baitcasting rod actually sits on top of the rod, rather than below like a spinning reel, and the line is spooled parallel to the rod, giving you much more leverage for pulling those big lunkers out from structures. The other benefits to baitcasting tackle are their longer casting abilities and greater accuracy, two important things when trying to hit a certain area from afar.

Fly Rods for Largemouth Bass

A very solid 8-or-9 weight flyrod with a stiff backbone and fast action tip is perfect for catching Largemouth bass. Realistically, you are not going to be catching 10-pound bass on flies, because they are usually far too deep and generally eat very large baits (bass can eat a fish that is as big as half their size), but you can catch a lot of fish, and have a great time doing it. A flyrod of this size will allow you to get a far cast, and cast some pretty large flies to attract the bass over the panfish.

More on Best Rods and Reels for Largemouth Bass

 Best Live Bait for Largemouth Bass

Largemouth bass fishing with shiners.

Nothing works better than a big live bait for Largemouth bass. Opportunistic feeders, bass basically eat whatever they can fit in their mouths. That being said, it seems that they do have some preferences over others.

The top live bait for catching trophy fish seems to be either:

  • Golden shiners
  • Shads

Both of these fish get fairly large, and are very shiny for attracting the fish to your hook. Other great baits include live night crawlers, bluegill, and crayfish.

More on Live Bait for Largemouth Bass

 Best Artificial Lures for Largemouth Bass

Topwater lure for catching largemouth bass.

Some would say you just aren’t bass fishing if you’re using live bait. This one species may be the most heavily targeted using artificial lures, which by the way work extremely well at catching them. Bass are large, aggressive predators, and love to chase down a prey that swims by their stalking hideout. They also seem to hit some lures out of pure irritation!

    Plastic Worms and Bottom Lures

  • The most all around effective lure is the good old rubber worm, which can be rigged in a variety of ways to fish either through vegetation or out in deeper water with a little extra weight. You can also rig a plastic worm or a shorter plastic tail onto a jig head and bounce them on the bottom. Although bass are designed to eat bait near or above them, they have no trouble picking up a slow moving lure on the bottom. And worms are the most popular for sure, but they will hit anything on the bottom that moves and makes noise.
  • Swimming Lures

  • Lures that look like little swimming fish - and some that swim the same but look like something from another planet - are exceptional lures for largemouth bass. We suggest having a collection of different lures designed to swim at different depths. Temperatures change as depth changes - something called a Thermocline forms layers. Try lures that float just below the surface, ones that dive deep if you retrieve them quickly, and ones that bubble around on the surface - called Topwater lures.
  • Spinnerbaits

  • Spinnerbaits are probably the second most common lure people think of when they think bass, and include one or more than a few small blades attached and swinging from the top. The lure is noisly as heck and create quite a wake as they are retrieved on or very near the surface. They are almost a topwater lure but deserve a class of their own. It is hard to believe that a fish would mistake this thing for something they should eat or kill (for the hell of it) but they sure do.
  • Topwater lures

  • Topwater lures lures are just that - lures that make a commotion on the surface of the water where the bass live. The fish hit the lures under a wide variety of conditions, and they seem to strike because they are hungry or because they are made. Some topwater lures have propellers, some have concave-shaped heads that 'pop' in the water, and some make an amazing amount of noise. That is why we mentioned topwater in the discussion about spinner baits. Try casting a topwater like a popping lure, and let it sit there until the rings the landing caused disappear. Snap it once, and wait again. Often, the fish hit topwater lures when they are sitting idly after the noise.

More on Artificial Lures for Largemouth Bass

 Largemouth Bass Tips from the Captain

Captain David Rieumont with a huge largemouth.

Our popular Ask a Captain, with locally renowned Captain David Rieumont, is a one-stop resource for all your Florida fishing needs. Included are some question and answer features from fishermen on catching largemouth bass.

  1. What’s the Best Lure to Use for Catching Largemouth Bass?
  2. What is the Nearest Place to Seminole, Florida to Go Freshwater Bass Fishing?
  3. When the lake is more dry, the bite is great for Largemouth. When flooded, no bite. Why is that?
  4. When is the best time to bottom-fish for Largemouth bass?
  5. What Are Good Techniques for Bass Fishing From the Banks?
  6. Is there a certain hook I should use for bass fishing with shiners?
  7. Do you know any good freshwater treble hook baits for bass?

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