We all want to be the first to try the newest bass fishing techniques. This is mostly because of all the press we see about a tournament won on what is supposed to be the next big thing. I know it seems like all of the big shows are won on something new that we have never seen before, but this is rarely the case. Most tournaments are actually won on tried and true presentations.
It just may be that our efforts could be better spent on boning up on the basics. I am not trying to say we should ignore the latest and greatest because every new method of catching them does have its place. The key to making best use of what’s new is knowing when and where to implement said technique. The only way to be efficient is to be well versed in the basics. You can easily still zero out if you use the best new methods at the wrong time or place.
Seasonal patterns are probably one of the most important things to consider when choosing where to start your search. For example; the best methods of catching them shallow is almost worthless if all the fish are deep and vice-versa. You just can’t force fish to bite if they aren’t there. Most of us know that fish come up shallow in the spring and fall, though there is a lot more to it than that. One of the best resources we have found to gain a solid foundation of knowledge in this area has to be the online courses offered by Faculty of Fishing. Comprehensive and complete Faculty of Fishing courses are time well spent. Though there is no substitute for talking to the people who are on the lake the most, by this I mean local bait shops and guides. Looking at the calendar can get you close but at times relying on that alone can put you way out of the loop.
After you get an idea of the stage of the season so you know what depth the fish are using it is time to get out your maps. Map reading is another one of the basics that cannot be ignored. This is where some of the new can be very helpful. On the internet most lakes and rivers have maps available. Not only can you find maps but some cool things like satellite photos and even some low water photos that give you a good look at the bottom that we may never get to see any other way. It’s a good idea to highlight all the areas on your map that meet the right criteria for the time you will be fishing. I like to highlight in different colors things like the right depth, bottom content, north shores in the spring and as many other factors as you can think of. Where your different colors intersect will be your best bet. If the water you will be fishing gets a lot of pressure you may also want to consider looking at areas that others may overlook because they are hard to get to or small areas they might not think are worth their time. A lot of tournaments are won in relatively small out of the way spots.
Once you think you know where the fish should be it is time to figure out how to catch them. Again the local guides and tackle stores can tell you what the traditional methods for catching them in that area are. Knowing the colors used on a lake by the locals can be helpful in giving you a start though I tend to spice these colors up a bit with what I have confidence in. We are from Michigan and when we went down south last spring everybody was using red rattle-baits so we purchased several. We did ok with these but on the second day we used bright colors and did even better. Once we got back home with a bunch of red lures in our boxes we tried them on our home waters and slayed them. Going along with tradition can put fish in the boat but showing them something different than they usually see can pay off big time. Often what is old school on one body water is new on another.
With the general location of the fish and an idea of color are decided it is time to narrow things down. We all love our electronics but few of us use all of the functions available. With some patience and practice these little used functions can become second nature and an invaluable tool in our arsenal to stay in front of the crowd. It can be difficult if not impossible to determine the type and density of vegetation or cover from a map while a sonar unit properly adjusted will be very helpful. Side scanning sonar though not new has made some significant advances in recent years. If you have one of these available do yourself a favor and study how to get the most out of it. Playing with the sensitivity and color palate can go a long way in showing what type of cover the fish are using. Other than actually looking for fish with your own eyes I know of no better way of finding groups of fish or individual fish for that matter than a side imaging sonar.
Now you are ready to catch them. This is when you let the location of the fish tell you what to do next. If the fish are in open water the choices are endless and it might be the time to try that new A-rig you have been dying to try but if they are tight to cover the choices are fewer. Not to say there is no room for new innovations, for example; if the cover is thick and you need to flip to get your lure in the right spot you can use a profile of lure that is new to these fish or a wild color. Scents come into play in this situation also, yes for the most part flipping gets reaction strikes but you might get a better reaction from a lure that has an enticing smell. Things that seem like little details can make a presentation have a whole new look. A small difference in size or shape of weight can make your offerings take on a whole new life. Some innovations can be implemented without changing what you are doing now like adding a soft trailer with UV tech, one or two extra bites per day is all we are looking for most of the time anyway.
You will still want to keep your eyes open to what’s new so it will be there for you when the time is right. Remember what is old on one body of water might just be the hot new thing on another. If you keep trying to find the out how to make them bite better we might be talking about how you found a new way next. Following the trends is all well and good but just don’t let the trends lead you away from the crowd that is most important, THE FISH!!!
Back in the old days it was hard to get any info at all from another fisherman, wow has that changed. With the internet and places like Faculty of Fishing gathering and presenting all of these important basics in one package it is easier than ever to keep up with the changing basics. Because of the big publicized tournaments last year it was a great year for a lot of fishing secrets from the big square billed crank to the UV baits and even those controversial multi-bait rigs. We added a couple of links below to help you keep up with how we are fishing a lake near you.