Everything in life gets easier the more you do it. Bass fishing is no different. Bass fishing at its core is made up of basic skills that every fisherman must master if they want to catch more largemouth or smallmouth. These same skills will also lend themselves well to catching pretty much any other species of freshwater fish in the country too. The key to bass fishing for beginners is to keep it simple.
That and have confidence in yourself. Black bass species like largemouth bass exist in most water bodies. They are in most bodies of freshwater like ponds, streams, and lakes. Because of this, locating an abundant supply of bass fish is not the issue that many are faced with.
Instead, I think a lot of the questions that many beginners have with catching bass is the industry. The intimidating and confusing multi-billion dollar bass fishing industry has sold the country into a black bass-targeting supermarket.
With so many hundreds of thousands of combinations of rods, reels, lines, lures, boats, accessories, and tens of thousands of water bodies filled with bass to choose from, it’s no surprise that many people don’t know where to start. This is going to be a guide that cuts through some of that noise. Hopefully, it also fills in some of those blanks for you. At its very core, catching bass is very straightforward. We have complicated it for the sake of monetary capital gains as well as entertainment.
Bring The Right Equipment
1. Get Licensed To Catch Freshwater Fish
The most basic but essential piece of gear you need to start catching bass is a fishing license for freshwater. I used to think that most people knew about this already but you would be surprised to learn that many people get away with fishing and poaching their beloved bass illegally under the shield of this being their first time. It happens now more than it ever has in the past.
Yes, in a time when the industry has made more money from catching a fish than it has from playing golf, poaching is an issue and so are fishing licenses. You don’t need a special license to target these fish but you should always be mindful of when the one you have expires.
The reason that this is important to mention is that the angler who has never bass fished will have to decide for how long they are willing to put forth effort and money into this sport. Fishing licenses are issued on a daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly sequence. If you want to fish for two weekends out of a year, a daily charge for two separate licenses may be better for you and your finances.
2 . Bring Fishing Tackle
The right fishing gear and tackle is the most important factor when it comes to catching the most fish in the most convenient way possible. As for a starting choice, don’t use baitcasting gear unless you already know how they work. It’s way too complicated. Instead, use a spinning rod if you have one available. If you don’t, consider buying one for your primary bass rod.
Use any spinning rod that you have available too. Set the drag and it will probably work fine. Don’t get caught up in price or anything else. If you can afford it, buy it and use it. Ignore the rest. I know I will get some flack over this but that is ok.
To the people who want to tell me to say something about the action of a rod, the length, the power, and other things, yes I know about these factors but this is not the post to discuss them. This is about bass fishing without complicating things. Use a reel with a line already on it or use some light monofilament.
Get some small versions of basic bass lures with a proven success record like a small spinnerbait, jig, crankbait, or grub, and head on out. Keep the patterns natural and a few bright colors thrown into the mix never hurt. That’s it. Believe it or not, you are a lot smarter than the bass.
Accessories are paramount in the bass fishing game. Many things other than your rod, reel, line, and lure make the game easier and more enjoyable. While it is possible to catch fish just by bringing one rod with one tackle box, certainly it’s not ideal. Ideally, you should have a few essential items with you as well. You need a pair of needle-nosed pliers that help with removing hooks, a way to cut fishing lines such as nail clippers or a pocket knife, some sunscreen, and a first-aid kit for wound care that also includes your medication if prescribed.
Aside from that, polarized sunglasses are a must for breaking the sun’s glare on the water’s surface. A chair or place to sit down is essential for those with physical disabilities. A tackle bag makes it easy to carry more than one tackle box at a time. Rod holders are a must for live bait fishing. As far as what to bring, that is pretty much everything that you would need to fish ideally. Try bringing these items with you on your next trip.
How To Start Bass Fishing As A Beginner
1. Find The Bass
Before we mention where to find the fish in the water, I am going to assume that you don’t already have a decked-out boat for this very purpose. For the purpose of keeping it simple, you don’t actually need one. Sure, a boat is nice for being mobile on the water and it will let you fish areas that are inaccessible to those on land but it also comes with a huge price tag.
That being the case, the fish don’t care if you are in a boat or not. Your goal should be finding out where they are and putting a lure in front of them. Scour the shoreline on foot and look for structures. Black basses are cover and structure-oriented fish. Look for sunken trees, rocks, dropoffs, reed lines, lily pads, grass mats, and other abnormalities that provide ideal hunting grounds for the fish to hunt.
2. Selecting Good Bass Lures
There are a ton of great bass lures on the market with some more effective than others. This is not a post about what you should and shouldn’t tie on. For that tutorial, see our post on how to choose fishing lures. I don’t have anything against most lures on the market but I always suggest that the starting angler try certain ones first.
For anybody who has never even caught one bass, I suggest that they do exactly what I did when I started catching them. I always suggest throwing a tiny crankbait that looks like a minnow or an insect. They are universal because they catch everything that swims. Just reel it back in. If you get a bite from a bass, it will likely be small but still, it’s a bass.
The reason I suggest this is because it’s insanely easy to do right and almost impossible to do wrong. Throwing small crankbaits for bass that look like a cricket, grasshopper, minnow, or frog really does a great job at providing an opportunity for that smaller largemouth bass to eat a quick meal before it gets bigger.
Also, the smaller exposed treble hooks on the bait remove the need for the angler to actually set the hook. When a small bass takes the lure and runs with it, just reeling in is enough to set the hook. Catching a ton of smaller fish will also get you used to identifying what a largemouth bass feels like on the end of your line. This is imperative for later.
After catching so many fish, you can often tell what species is on the end of your line just by how it fights. It will also get you used to what getting bit is like too. Usually, the hardest part is identifying the feel of a fish bite compared to a snag and if you have run into a tree or a rock.
3. Fishing Your Lure
The easiest way to fish any bass lure is a straight retrieve. Don’t waste your precious time working your lure any other way until you have mastered the straight retrieve. Throw the fishing lure into the water and reel it back in. Repeat and repeat again. I am not saying that using other retrieves is ineffective.
They certainly are. I am just saying the straight retrieve is the most basic of them all and without it, the other ones won’t really help you out much. This is coming from a person who was once a beginner bass fisherman. Trust me on this. Also, the bass is a hugely opportunistic ambush predator.
If this fish won’t bite your bait on a straight retrieve, it’s probably already outside of the realm of the possibility of catching it without some advanced gear. In other words, a bass that won’t bite an easy meal that is fleeing a couple of feet away probably won’t be caught with anything else on a straight retrieve either unless you put some finesse into it with some light line and a different retrieve entirely.
Conclusion – You Can Catch Bass Today
To wrap up what beginner bass fishing is and should be, it’s all about you. You alone should control what gear you buy, own, what you use, and how you fish. Believe it or not, you can catch largemouth, smallmouth, or spotted bass today even if all you have is a single rod and a little patience. All in all, stop worrying about what rod, reel, line, lure, rig, and knot you have to have to be on top of it all. People have been catching these fish on lesser equipment for hundreds of years already.
That success hasn’t changed just because monetary gains have generated an industry that has complicated it for those just starting out. Don’t let major retailers and pro anglers dictate or sell you on the idea that you need to follow their advice to catch fish. You don’t. Respectfully, the beauty of it all is that you don’t have to take my advice on this either. I encourage practicing with basics and through trial and error, increasing your skills. Put my claims to the test yourself to verify if they are true.
What are your questions regarding this? Do you think the industry has made it very hard to start catching fish or easier? We want to know. Leave a comment below so we can hear what you have to say! Your comment helps out others.
If You Have A Question, Please Comment Below!
Doing so helps us produce more quality content like this! Also, don't forget to read a related post!