Unless you have a friend or family member who can give you some helpful advice, you might feel a bit confused or intimidated when it comes to buying gear and selecting tackle for your first bass fishing adventure. Don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it seems. While experienced anglers can debate on these topics for hours, you’ll have plenty of success by starting off simple. In fact, it really all boils down to three fundamental concepts regarding the type of gear to use, which baits to cast, and when to go. Once you get a few catches under your belt, you can build on your knowledge. For now, all you have to remember are these three points.
Choose Gear To Match Your Skill Level
Compare prices on quality mid-range spinning rod and reel combos that comfortably fit your grip. You don’t need or want the most expensive rod and reel on the market to start out with. What’s most important is to be realistic about your current skill level and how often you plan to go fishing. There’s nothing wrong with buying an inexpensive basic freshwater spinning combo until you get more experience with different bass fishing techniques and baits. Whatever you do, don’t run out to get a pricey baitcasting set-up just because you see all of the professional bass anglers using them on television — you’ll end up frustrated and you won’t stick with it. My suggestion for beginners would be a 6 1/2-foot medium action spinning outfit spooled with 10-pound monofilament line.
Match The Hatch
While the concept of “matching the hatch” is most often used in the world of fly fishing, it’s an important concept to consider anytime you’re out on the water. If you notice that the bass are chasing shad in the shallows, grab the best shad-imitating lure you have in your tackle box and cast it parallel to the shoreline. If you don’t get a bite right away, experiment with a variety of retrieves until you find the right speed that entices a fish to strike. Not having much luck using lures or soft plastic baits? Don’t stress. Some days the fish are more finicky than others. You can always bring along a few freshwater live baits to use as a back-up plan.
Know Your Seasons
Largemouth bass typically prepare to spawn during the spring months when the water temperature reaches around 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (although, in South Florida, this may happen as early as January or February). During this time period fish feed heavily and can often be found sitting on nests close to shore. You may want to consider planning a bass fishing trip during these months when there’s a good chance of spotting large females — just be sure to handle the fish with care and release all bass back into their natural habitat so that the females can finish spawning. The summer, winter and fall seasons can require changes in technique as bass adapt to different temperatures and feeding patterns.
Want to learn more about bass fishing during different conditions and seasons? Read about bass fishing following a cold front during the winter, or learn where to find fish during the the heat of the summer.