Fishing News

So You Want to Start Largemouth Bass Fishing

By Don Dziedzina

I get so many questions about fishing come across my desk. And as of late, it seems that the bass fishing and tournaments that we see on TV makes some novice anglers more exciting about pursuing bass themselves. So if you want to be a bass fisherman,letís see if I can help you get started.

Bass fishing can be broken down in to many different categories. The ways to fish for bass are many but there has to be a starting point. There has to be a generic list of equipment needed to get the ball rolling. Letís see if we can cover some basics, and maybe move on to the next step.

Bass will take live bait as well as artificials. But the best bet for anyone wanting to learn about bass fishing should start at the beginning and work your way up. Once you get the knack on fishing for bass, you can then move on to using artificial and fishing different ways.

Letís start with the way I learned to fish for bass.

For a fishing rod, I had a medium action spinning rod that was six feet long. On that was a matching spinning reel. A lot of the tackle shops out there will sell good rod and reel combos, but if you get them separately, put the reel on the rod before you buy it. Make sure the feel of the combo is balanced.

How can you tell if itís a well balanced combination? The easiest way to explain it is to say that the reel is not too heavy nor too light for the rod. It should feel extremely comfortable in your hand, not awkward. Always hold the rod with your hand over the top of the rod with the stem of the spinning reel between your index and middle finger.Donít put all four fingers behind the reel. Right of the bat it would be off balance. If you just hold the rod with your index finger under the reel seat and in front of the reel stem, it should rest there easily and not dip to the back. It just has to feel comfortably in your hand.

For line, a good start is six pound test monofilament. Have the tackle shop owner put the line on for you. If you want to buy a filler spool, read the directions in the box about spooling the line.

For lures, I believe that the beginner should start with live bait and particularly nightcrawlers. I did and it helped me find fish and build confidence.

So with that, purchase a box of number six or eight bronze Aberdeen hooks. These will be light wire hooks that wonít destroy your bait when you putting it on. Theyíll also come off snags easily. And still, the small hooks will hold on to a decent sized bass. Use the sixes for the smaller worms and eights for bigger juicier ones.

For tying the hook on the line, you can find examples on the web that will walk you through the process step by step.

After the hook is tied on, youíll need to pinch on a split shot, a small weight, about eighteen inches above the hook. Boxes of several sized split shots are available. Youíll need sizes from about 1/16 ounce to 1/4 ounce. When you need to fish deeper or in the wind, use a heavier split shot. On dead calm days go lighter. If bluegills are eating your lunch, a larger split shot will get the bait out of their range quicker.

Now you have your rig. No terminal tackle. No heavy weights, not snelled hooks, and no bobbers. A medium action spinning rod, a well balanced spinning reel, six pound test line with a small Aberdeen hook and a split shot pinched on the line; youíre all set.

In a cooler, you should have a box or two of cold, healthy, solid, squirming nightcrawlers. You must keep them cold and moist. Always put the lid back on the box and always keep the covered. A cold crawler is a lively crawler. A warm one is a dead one.

To bait up, put the small hook through the tip of the crawler on the side with the sex band. String it on only once. Do not gob the worm on the hook by skewering it again and again with the hook. Weíre fishing for bass not catfish.

When the worm is on the hook youíre now ready to make your first cast. Youíll have to remember that you have live bait on the hook. It is fragile. A hard cast will rip the worm off. Lobbing the bait out to the water might be a better description on how to get it out there. Because you have a spinning rig, lobbing the bait out will be easy.

Always close the bail by hand, not by cranking the reel handle. This will reduce line twist.

Ok, you have your list of what you need to get started. The next step is finding the fish. This can go on for ever, but let me just say this about finding bass.

Bass are a schooling fish. They spend most of their lives in their deep water sanctuary, their home in deeper water. They come to the shallows for a couple reasons; to eat and to spawn. Knowing this, you will need to learn about the depths of the lake that you will fish. Maps can tell you where drop offs are found. Fish areas where bass can find food by coming up from deep water, eating in the shallows, and then returning to deep water quickly. Locations like this narrow down places to find fish considerably.

Lob out your bait where fish can find it when coming up to the shallows. Do a lot of line watching. When you see the line move, a fish may have taken your bait. Donít let a lot of line out as you want to be able to set the hook. Too much slack line can result in a lot of lost fish.

Get the basics when you gear up for the first time. Find out where the fish are found on your favorite lake or pond. Catch a few fish then start thinking about plastic worms and grubs. Then you can move on the spinnerbaits and crank baits. Starting with live bait will help your confidence grow on catching bass because live bait will catch more fish than artificials. Master the basics first and youíll soon see that great fishing, as well as other forms of bass fishing, is not that far away.

Don Dziedzina has been involved in the outdoors for nearly 35 years. Being the host of Illinois Outdoors TV and co-host of the Fishing Line and Outdoor Radio Show, Don really enjoys sharing his experiences as an outdoor writer. His goal in life is to help people enjoy the outdoors and show them that " Great fishing is not that far away." tm For more information about Illinois Outdoors please visit Don's web site at: www.illinoisoutdoors.com


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