The Best Approach to Get Better at Bass Fishing

The Best Approach to Get Better at Bass Fishing

Posted by Randy Sullivan on Jul 06, 2023

Bass fishing, especially at higher levels of competition, is a mysterious and fickle activity. Sometimes it is easy and simple: you find them quick and they are biting. That being said, sometimes it seems as if nothing you do draws a single bite. So what exactly makes those easy days more frequent than the difficult days? To answer this, we first have to look at the three normal strategies that we will employ on the water.

“Pattern” fishing is something that has been around for quite some time and has proven to be effective. A pattern involves finding something specific the fish are relating to, such as deep boat docks, then figuring out what they’ll bite, like a wacky rig. At that point, an angler can just run as many deep boat docks as possible with a wacky rig to increase his or her odds of catching the right five bass. Occasionally, figuring out a pattern can be more complex as it can involve variables such as baitfish, current, tides, a specific type of structure, or a specific type of cover. The more complex a pattern, the easier the pattern can be overlooked, but, for the most part, pattern fishing is relatively simple. Even so, an angler can struggle when pursuing a simple pattern.

Every fisherman dreams of finding that magical honey hole where one can sit in a single spot and hammer on fish all day. Typically this type of “spot” or “hole” fishing involves a big school of fish stacked somewhere. Something important to note about big schools is that they are not very prevalent at a given time, meaning that there may only be a single honey hole with a large school on a fishery. This means finding that school is time consuming and risky: you idle around for a day or even multiple days looking and there is no guarantee you will find any fish at all. Another similar scenario is finding a somewhat bigger area that a large number of bass are using, such as a cove or a stretch of bank. Again, finding that particular cove or stretch can be difficult because there may be similar coves or banks elsewhere that are not holding many fish.

The final scenario is not really anything in particular. We would call this “junk” fishing or even just randomly fishing anything that looks like it would hold fish. The random fishing approach is best used with as much haste as possible using moving baits. The more targets and areas one fishes, the more likely it is that the angler will run across enough good fish to catch. This scenario, while also risky, can yield great results, especially in the fall of the year. It can also lead to the discovery of a pattern or a very productive area just by chance. However, many times, going junk fishing can lead to a lot of gas used up by the big motor and a very empty livewell to show for it.

So, knowing the different strategies we could use to have success, which one should we look to use for a specific day? How one answers this question will definitely determine the outcome of his or her day on the water. Luckily, I have just the solution: I’m not sure who originally coined this wisdom, but I have heard Mark Davis say, “You have to understand the personality of a particular fishery.” By far and away the absolute most important thing to understand is how the fish in a body of water act. Every single lake, river, and bay is different when it comes to how the fish behave. In certain fisheries, like Tennessee River lakes, fish pile up in big schools on river ledges, creating a prime opportunity to look for that “honey hole”. In other fisheries, such as Grand Lake or Possum Kingdom, pattern fishing is extremely consistent and can be relied upon to have success. In yet more fisheries, random fishing can be king. Having an intimate knowledge of how the fish in a particular body of water behave and also how those fish react to adverse circumstances, such as changing weather, is the key to having many more of those good, easy days rather than bad, difficult days. It is also the reason we see certain anglers having consistently good finishes on certain water bodies. Regardless of if they are locals, these anglers simply understand how certain fisheries operate and use one, or a combination of, the three normal strategies to increase their odds of catchin’ em.

The personality of a fishery can be looked at in three ways: areas of the lake the fish use at a time of year, how the fish like to set up and feed, and what baits/colors are good on the lake. Learning these things takes time, research of past events or knowledge from other fishermen, and a willingness to experiment and think outside of the box. The true grasp of a fishery is just a way thinking. If you can change the way you approach finding and catching fish on a specific lake to increase your consistency and success rate on that lake, you are increasing your understanding of the personality of that fishery.