Americans from north to south love bass fishing, and I’m getting lots of questions and requests regarding tips for catching smallies and bucketmouths alike.
Here are some tips for catching America’s favorite sportfish as summer transitions into fall.
Q: I’m a walleye guy, and I’d like to try some rigging techniques for bass. Any ideas?
“Tackle” Terry Tuma: There are several rigging tactics that will catch largemouth and smallmouth bass. Most anglers will first try tube jigheads – either light or heavy – inside tubes. Light jigs fall slow, which tantalizes fish in shallow locations or bass in negative moods. Use heavy heads for deep fish on structure and current flows. Light swimbait hooks create slower falls than jigheads and will perform well for lockjaw bass. Rig Texas-style for cabbage and coontail cover.
Q: When do you use spinnerbaits to catch largemouth bass?
T3: Dark or stained waters are prime for spinnerbaits, but depth plays a role, too. Bass react to spinners via blade vibration, flash, color, and skirt and trailer size. Retrieve speed and depth is critical, but so is blade size and shape. Colorado blades create the most vibration and are ideal in dark water or at night. Run them just below the surface to create a bulge or wake. Willowleafs impart less movement and perform in clearer conditions or when you need more finesse. Indiana blades provide intermediate flash and vibration.
Blade and skirt selection usually is a trial-and-error process. Water temperature and clarity are key factors. You’ll find that silver Colorado/willowleaf combo blades and white skirts match forage in clear water. In dirtier water, change skirt color to chartreuse and white.
Q: How do you fish wacky worms for bass?
T3: A 5-inch Gulp Sinking Minnow in a green tone is most productive, but try other colors. I use a 1/0 circle hook nicked in the worm’s center with the hook point backed in (once it protrudes the body) to keep it weedless. Fish it weightless, thus allowing a slow flutter to the bottom. If there are no takers on the fall, either twitch or lift, then let the worm lay. The key is slow and methodical retrieves. Bites can be super subtle.
Q: What rods do you recommend for bass fishing?
T3: Anglers have their “pet” rods for specific lures and baits, but here is what I generally use: A medium-light, extra-fast-action 7½-foot spinning rod for small crankbaits and braids, fiberglass medium-action 7- to 7½-foot baitcasting sticks for larger crankbaits, (my personal preference is graphite for cranks), 8-foot medium-heavy regular action for deep water crankin’ and fast-action medium-heavy 7-foot-2 to 7½-foot baitcasting for wacky style. Tubes go hand-in-hand with a fast-action tip, and medium-power 7-foot-2 spinning rods. For finesse, medium-light 7-foot-2 extra-fast spinning setups. Long rods increase casting distance while fast-action tips detect light bites. Power in the midsection down to the butt secures strong hooksets.
Q: What grub styles do you recommend for bass fishing?
T3: There are three grub styles for different fish activity levels and water temperatures. Straight-tail grubs display little action and perform best for fish in a negative mood or in cold water. Use shad-style tails when water is in the 50s (spring or fall). This design offers some movement. Power Grubs are ideal for aggressive fish in warmer water. As for size, try to match the forage. If conditions are really tough, however, use small baits. A selection of grubs should be in every tackle box.
Q: I keep hearing that autumn is prime time for trophy bass. True?
T3: Without question. Water temperatures are cooling, and big bass will move from deep to shallow to feed. (My largest bass ever was in 2 feet of water.) Fish have low intelligence, but to survive, they’ve evolved very fast learning skills. We must use techniques and presentations that are not familiar to them. Select lakes that have an abundant shiner and shad food source. Trophy bass recognize unfamiliar noise and sense fishing pressure because of learned experiences. Small lakes may surprise you versus well-known, large bass lakes.
Good luck bass fishing as summer transitions into autumn.