You hear it all the time: Big bass aren’t little bass. That’s true. It’s also useless information. If we’re going to catch bigger bass — and that’s what we all want to do — we need to know how they’re different and formulate a plan to take advantage of those differences.
Over the years I’ve developed some thoughts on how to do that. Here they are…
Fish tough spots
The harder your fishing spot is to access with a lure the more likely it is that you’ll catch a 5- or 6-pounder.
Bigger fish aren’t on the edge of the weedline or in the outer twigs of a bush. They’re way back in the thick of it. They aren’t on the outside edge of a dock, either. They’re way back under the big docks where the shade and cover is the heaviest.
Throw big baits
Big bass are lazy. They want something substantial they can catch easily. Try fishing with a bulky jig and fat trailer instead of a tiny finesse combination. If you’re winding crankbaits, go with something bigger and fatter.
Fish with slow moving baits
You’ll catch more quality bass dragging a jig than you will burning a spinnerbait. Speed, or the lack of it, is important to big bass. Use baits you can fish slow and fish them slow. These fish aren’t in a hurry. You shouldn’t be either.
Whenever possible, fish where there’s a longer growing season
I know this isn’t something everyone can do. Nevertheless, fish in the Southern or Western parts of the country if and when you can. The growing season is longer. There are more big fish in those places. That’s a biological fact.
If possible, fish in lakes and rivers where there’s a good forage base
Fish need food to grow. The more of it there is, and the easier it is to catch, the bigger they get. Again, this is a biological fact.
A big gizzard shad makes a better meal than a small threadfin shad. A thriving population of giant, fat crawfish is about as good as it gets if you’re a bass. Pay particular attention to any lake or river where trout are raised and released. Those poor creatures have no survival skills. Bass eat them like they’re on a salad bar.
Fish in the middle of the day
Most of my really big bass have been caught within an hour on either side of noon. I have no idea why.
You’ll find the big ones deep — No!
I’ve caught a lot of big fish in my career. Almost all of them have come from shallow cover. Big bass are not always, or even usually, deep. One of the reasons I fish a topwater frog so much is because the fish I catch on it are bigger than average. (Yes, big bass like topwater offerings.)
One final thought: I know that there are exceptions to what I’ve said here. Every angler can tell a story about when he or she caught a big one doing just the opposite of what I’ve suggested. Fair enough. But just because there are exceptions to something doesn’t mean it isn’t true most of the time.
Sometime after the first of the year, we’ll look at how to make bedding bass bite. After that we’ll go back and explore some of what I’ve said in this article in more detail.