Fishing with live bait is another skill you may wish to master in your pursuit of the bass. Bass respond well to many forms of live bait and sometimes action can be faster than with lures. (But not always!) Huge bass have been taken on live bait. Many experts believe that a big, old bass may have "learned" to avoid lures, but it can't learn to avoid a properly presented live bait, since live bait is what it must eat to survive.Live baits for bass and how to rig them
Live-bait fishing methodsFreelining: With the boat sitting still or anchored, or with the fisherman on the shore, the bait is allowed to swim freely. This method is used extensively with large golden shiners; they will head for mats of floating cover and swim into the lair of a big bass.Electric Trolling: Use your electric motor on a low setting to slowly troll the bait around the shoreline, over a point, etc. This method enables you to cover more ground and locate fish. Once bass are located, a still-fishing method may be used if desired.Float Fishing: Use a wood or cork float, setting it above the hook at the desired depth. Avoid cheap, plastic floats that cut your line.Drifting: In current or open water, allow the wind or current to move your boat as you gently pull the bait along. Adjust for current and wind intensity by adding or taking away weight.Still-Fishing: Anchor the boat or fish from shore. Use a sliding sinker such as an egg sinker or Texas worm sinker to keep the bait near the bottom. Leave the reel spool on the "bait running" or clicker function, or in freespool, and give the bait sufficient slack line to move about. The line will pay out through the hole in the sinker.
Hooking fish on live bait
Conservation-minded bass anglers will not want to let the bass swallow the bait. Even a 12-inch golden shiner can be quickly engulfed by a big bass. Once the fish has the bait and moves off with it, stand up, point the rod at the fish, lower the rod tip quickly and bring the rod back sharply overhead, using the slack-line technique. You may miss a few bass until you get the hang of it. Again, do not tighten down and pull back, as a big bass will only turn its head and throw the bait.If occasionally you have a bass swallow the hook, and you wish to release the fish, cut the line off at the hook and let the fish go. The hook will usually rust out shortly. Don't pull the stomach of the bass outward in your efforts to unhook the fish.