I grew up fishing from the bank, and I still enjoy fishing farm ponds and other small waters by walking the shoreline. It’s a great way to fish some really productive waters and catch some really big bass. Fishing from shore can also be a great way to catch bass on big water. You might be surprised at how many places there are that a bank angler can reach more easily than someone in a boat.
But I have to say that my favorite bank fishing is done on small waters. If you were to look at a list of state record largemouth bass, you’d see that many of them came from lakes and ponds that cover less than 10 acres. A lot of those bass were caught by anglers standing on the shore. Some of my biggest bass came from waters like that, too, and I caught a bunch of them from the bank.
Over the years, I’ve learned a few things that have helped me be more successful when fishing from shore. They’ll even help you when you’re fishing from a boat.
First, the key area to focus on with any small body water is where you find shallow cover near deep water, and the deepest water is usually at the dam. Look for brush that may have blown in on the dam wall or for overhanging trees and branches. Sometimes, at the corners of the dam, you’ll find aquatic vegetation, and that’s almost a sure thing when you’re bass fishing.
I also like to look for shade in these areas. Shadows will move throughout the day, and the bass will move with them. Shade near deep water always deserves a cast or two.
Second, keep an eye out for bass forage. Usually, that means bluegills. This time of year around much of the country, bluegills are spawning, and it’s a great time to catch some really big bass that are feeding on them.
If the water’s clear, you can usually see bluegill beds. They tend to nest really close together. When you see the beds and know that bluegills are on the nests, it’s the perfect time to work a bluegill imitation lure or a buzzbait through the beds and around the edges of the beds. Big bass usually dart in to grab a bluegill and then head back to deeper water or to the safety of cover, like weed beds.
Finally, few things will help you catch more fish from the bank than developing good casting skills. Bank-bound anglers actually need to be better than the anglers fishing from a boat. If you’re in a boat, it’s usually pretty easy to adjust the boat position and get a good casting angle. A shoreline angler needs to be able to cast overhand, underhand, sidearm, backhand, and even skip a lure to get into the kinds of places where big bass live.
Sometimes, you might even benefit from wading … but don’t do it where alligators or other dangers are a threat!
Carrying lots of rods and reels or a big tackle box is usually not possible when you’re fishing from the shore. It’s not necessary either. One casting combo and one spinning combo is usually all you need.
I’ll usually have a Berkley The General on a drop-shot rig or wacky rig on the spinning outfit. I’ll fish the drop-shot in deeper water and the wacky rig in shallower water. The wacky rig is also great for skipping into tight places other anglers miss or don’t have the skills to reach.
On the casting rig, I often fish a Texas-rigged worm or jig and trailer in deeper spots and a Berkley PowerBait Beat’n Power Frog or spinnerbait for shallower water. Don’t hesitate to use a little heavier line when fishing from the bank since it’s often impossible to go get a snagged lure. It’ll save you some money!
And don’t forget the best reason for heavier line: small waters hold giant bass! You don’t need a boat to catch them.