Right now — across most of the country — is some of the best bass fishing of the entire year. Your situation may vary a little if you’re in the extreme south or north, but for most of the rest of us, the bass are in a prespawn stage. The eggs are forming in the females, the males will soon be clearing nests, and there are more bass in shallow water than at any other time of the year.
It’s a great time to be on the water — especially if you’re interested in targeting the biggest bass of your life.
We’d all love to go out and catch our personal best, but most of us don’t take the steps to give ourselves a realistic chance. Instead, we take shortcuts … or do things the easy way instead of the best way. The end result is that we don’t meet our goals.
For me, targeting a really big bass is a five-step process.
The first step is choosing the right body of water. You can’t catch a giant bass if no giants live where you’re fishing. To find the right water, talk to your state fisheries biologists, look for reliable reports of big fish, or talk with trustworthy anglers who know.
The second step is to identify the best spots on the right waters. Remember that although pre-spawn bass are typically quite shallow, they like having close access to deep water. They also prefer areas where they can move short, vertical distances to get into the spawning areas rather than moving long, horizontal distances.
Look for those sorts of places off the beaten path. The closer you’re fishing to a boat ramp or heavily populated place, the more likely that area gets a lot of fishing pressure. Those bass will be extra skittish.
Instead of fishing an area that obviously looks good, try to find something that has the right elements without being flashy. The obvious spots are going to get pounded. The less obvious spots can hold a ton of fish without getting a ton of pressure.
Think “outside the box” just a little. If you know everyone else is sight fishing or beating the banks, look a little deeper. Just because you fished a spot earlier without any success doesn’t mean it won’t produce later in the day. Give it another try. Maybe they’ll be feeding when you go back. Try different baits or different angles of presentation the second time.
The third step is some practical fishing advice that works for all fishing but is essential when your goal is a lunker. You need to be quiet and take a stealthy approach. That means cutting off the outboard well before you’re within casting distance. It means slowing your trolling motor. It might even mean shutting off your electronics if you’re fishing extremely shallow water.
It also means being patient with your presentations. Instead of launching a cast when you think you might be within range, wait until you’re in the perfect position, then try to get the lure in the water as quietly as possible. Be aware of your surroundings. Try not to disturb the birds or the turtles when you come in. Bass have to notice when everything around them is frantically running away.
The fourth step is to choose the right baits — ones that give you the best chance of attracting a big bass. For this, it’s tough to beat a jig, like the new Berkley PowerBait jigs. Tip them with a MaxScent trailer like the Meaty Chunk Trailer and you have a lure that creates a scent path to draw bass in and PowerBait to keep them holding on. Another strong option is to throw something the bass haven’t seen, like the new Berkley PowerBait Agent E Swimbait.
Whatever bait you’re fishing, slow down. Big bass didn’t get big by exerting a lot of energy to feed. And make multiple casts. Give the bass plenty of opportunity to say “yes” to your lure.
Finally — and this step may be the hardest — you need to get out there and spend as much time fishing as possible. There are no good substitutes for time on the water, and even when you do everything right, the very biggest bass don’t come easy!