When it comes to bass they are often found feeding on a variety of forage, to the average angler this can present some rather large problems when it comes to narrowing down just what type of forage you want to replicate. The good thing is that many lures are tailor made to replicate multiple types of forage, giving you the best chance to catch ’em and catch ’em good!
This is the primary forage for largemouth bass during the majority of the year. This piece of the puzzle is usually available in large numbers making it easy for largemouth to swipe through a school to quickly grab a meal. The variation in these baitfish can cause some trouble when figuring out just what to use. I personally lump fish species like bluegill and alewives into the same group even though once bluegills get larger they are a more difficult meal for many of the larger predator species. The vast majority of largemouth seem to focus on small baitfish that are 4″ or less though the larger bass will hunt for larger baitfish in the 8″ class.
On bodies of water with smaller baitfish I tend to opt more for a spinnerbait as the blades mimic the profile of a small baitfish perfectly. Once the baitfish get a little bit bigger I then moved to a crankbait or jerkbait. As you have probably heard the umbrella rig is the best way to mimic this forage because you are able to throw an artificial bait ball. If you are fishing deeper in the water column your best best may also be a jigging spoon, some anglers have had a high rate of success with these unconventional bass lures.
Critters like frogs, snakes, salamanders, and turtles can become a primary forage during the time of year when bass are bedding. This is because amphibians are usually found near the
shore where the bass are bedding. The fish recognize this and use these as a “feed by opportunity” type forage. Though largemouth may not actually eat turtles they do put the turtle inside its mouth to move it away from the bed.
The best way to replicate this piece of the puzzle is to use plastics due to their uncanny resemblance of their mimicking counterpart. My hands down favorite for this tactic is the Tightlines UV products, they not only look like the real thing but they also give off a realistic reflection of UV light that is unmatched by any other company.
Things like crawfish or shrimp come to mind to most anglers when they are trying to catch monster bass. For many of us the craw is our go-to tactic because they are so widely available and such an easy target for many of the black bass species. Many anglers do not know that crawfish are in fact a nocturnal species, they much prefer to move at night due to the assurance that the bass will have a more difficult time spotting them, but this can work to your advantage.
The main piece that you want to replicate when it comes to crustaceans is the pinchers and the “clicking” sound. I have found this is best done by using a jig with trailer, banging an appropriately colored crankbait against the floor, or using an Assassinator Clacker spinnerbait near the bottom of the water column. If you prefer to take things a little more realistically I would heavily advise a glass rattle inside a Texas or Carolina rigged crawfish from Tightlines UV, the Carolina rigging method may be the best if you want a strong click when you and jigging your rod.
For the most part you won’t find largemouth feeding on insects due to their smaller size but you will likely find smallmouth feeding on these little critters. The most common time to replicate insects is during the mayfly hatch due to the sheer number of mayflies in the water you can easily stand out and show the smallmouth that your mayfly is the one that they want.
I prefer to use lures like small white grubs, the mosquito hawk, or a float with fly behind it. These first two are usually best used to find the depth at which the majority of fish are feeding at, then you can focus on changing up your presentation to get the best five and then to start culling!
The last major category is the “other” forage. Bass are known for eating just about anything that hits the water, this can include critters like mice or even birds. The cool thing about this bit of forage is that bass usually attempt to absolutely slam them to either stun them or to quickly eat them before they have a chance to get back in the air or on land.
The best way to mimic this category is through topwater presentations, usually buzzbaits. There is a new lure on the market that has been getting some attention though, Flip In The Bird, this lure is more-or-less an exact copy of the most popular birds in North America giving you the best chance to use something new and succeed.
Bass are creatures of opportunity, the only real way to know what they are feeding on at that particular moment is to hit the water and use your former knowledge to speed up the catching process. Be sure to get everything you need for your next angling adventure at Bad Poncho Tackle and use promo code PONCHO to get 10% off!