On the hook with Mackenzie Sanders

A beginner's guide to bass fishing, offering advice on getting started, techniques, and resources.

Bass fishing, a sport often dominated by male participants, offers an exhilarating challenge that women are increasingly embracing. Mackenzie Sanders, a collegiate-level competitive female angler, shares her insights and advice for women embarking on their bass fishing journey. This beginner’s guide aims to demystify the sport, offering practical advice on equipment, learning resources, common pitfalls and motivational tips to encourage persistence and enjoyment.

Essential equipment for beginners

Starting with the right equipment is crucial. Sanders recommends a spinning rod as it is more straightforward to learn and use compared to a bait caster. A wacky rig or shaky head, depending on the fishing depth and season, can significantly impact your success. The wacky rig is particularly effective in spring and summer, while the shaky head is versatile for year-round fishing. Choosing the correct line is also essential; a 12-pound line suits most situations, but in areas with grass or lily pads, braided line is preferable to prevent losing fish and cutting the line.

Learning the ins and outs

The best way to learn bass fishing is by immersing yourself in the experience. “Fish with as many people as you can. Talk to as many people as you can,” Sanders advises. YouTube serves as an invaluable resource for learning everything from knot tying to finding bass and observing angler techniques. Direct experience and leveraging online resources can significantly shorten the learning curve for newcomers.

Common mistakes to avoid

New anglers often fall prey to common mistakes such as heeding dock talk, rushing, neglecting cover and not fully understanding their baits. Sanders stresses the importance of patience, especially during colder months when fish are less active. Overcoming the fear of losing baits in cover like grass or laydowns is crucial, as these are often habitats where fish are found. Learning to use artificial baits effectively, transitioning from live baits, can open up new opportunities for success across various conditions.

Building confidence on the water

For many women, entering a predominantly male sport can be daunting. Sanders shares her personal journey, highlighting the challenges and doubts she faced while also underscoring her determination. “It’s not easy … but as long as it makes you happy and you know you can do it, then do it,” she asserts. Embracing the sport with confidence, regardless of gender stereotypes, can be empowering.

Motivational advice

Embarking on a sport where you’re often the minority can be intimidating. Sanders encourages women to focus on the joy of outperforming male counterparts and the sheer beauty of being amidst nature’s creation. “At the end of the day, you have to be thankful to even be able to fish,” she reminds us. The mantra “Girls Fish Too!” serves as a motivational reminder that women have a rightful and celebrated place in the bass fishing community.

Sanders’ journey and advice offer a beacon of inspiration and guidance for women new to bass fishing. By starting with the right gear, leveraging learning resources, avoiding common pitfalls, building confidence and staying motivated, female anglers can navigate the waters of bass fishing with success and enjoyment.

You can follow Sanders on Instagram at: @msandersfishing