Bass fishing is very fun, but requires a lot of knowledge to achieve peak performance out of an angler and their gear. It is important to know what gear you have (or what new gear you might need) and how to use it properly, so let’s do this!
To find the right gear for catching fish, assess where you fish and what you’re looking for in your gear. For rods, any rod can work well if it’s paired with the correct reel. The two types of reels my father and I use are spin casters and a baitcaster. Both have their pluses and minuses. A spin caster is easy to use, but a baitcaster can cast much further. Baitcasters also pose the risk of creating a “bird’s nest” (a tangle of fishing line) when used improperly or carelessly. Next, find what you want to use to catch your fish, whether it be live bait (such as worms) or lures. Worms are great for catching small and medium sized fish, but present a plethora of problems. They are difficult to hook-up, can be easily lost (or “stolen” by sneaky fish), and are relatively expensive (considering they’re perishable). Lures on the other hand, have far less issues, and generally work better. They can catch larger fish, are easier to rig up, can be stored anywhere, and can be used indefinitely when used properly. Lures can still be expensive though, with most lures going from fifty cents to fifteen dollars, depending on lure size and quality. If lures aren’t working, try an attractant (something like ground-up crickets that can be added to your hook), as they can greatly aid in performance.
Now to find the other gear you’ll likely need. First, a net greatly helps to land a fish, as well as hold the fish safely before you remove the hook. Next are the tools to safely remove the hook. While many people use only their hands, a few tools can increase the safety for both you and the fish. To hold the fish steady there’s nothing better than a plastic six inch fish gripper. If the fish is too small for a fish gripper, a simple cut-resistant glove will do. To actually remove the hook, use a pair of long forceps. If the hook is too difficult to remove, you may need to use a pair of wire cutters. Obviously using wire cutters on a lure will ruin it. Sometimes, though, this is the only way to save a fish to release it. Finally, you need a place to store your tackle. My father and I use a fishing backpack. It has space for lure storage trays, sunglasses, fishing rods, and anything else you want may want to keep in it. One final tip, always keep water and something like a bag of chips or a granola bar. They allow you to fish for longer periods of time, and the water can also help you keep cool on a hot day.
That covers the gear you need, now on to techniques that you should know. Any angler knows the basics of casting: pull your rod back; open the bail (or push the button); swing the rod forward; the close bail; and, done! However, there are numerous other things that can affect casting, such as lure weight (heavier lures help you cast further), how much extra line is released beyond the tip of your rod (for me, twelve inches is perfect), and how quickly you pull the rod back and swing it forward (the faster you do this the further you cast – but maybe with less accuracy). Another very important tip is that when shore fishing, always tread lightly. By doing this, fish won’t flee to deeper water (because they knew you were coming). If you think ”But all of the large fish hang out in the deeper water away from the shore”, you would be incorrect! Large bass actually stay by the shore a lot more than many people realize, like around six in the morning when they feed in shady areas under trees during hotter seasons, and on colder days in the summer when they want to keep warm in shallower water.
With that we are done. That was all of the information I have learned ever since my father and I went from rarely catching a single three inch bluegill a day (and this was only last year...) to catching up to five 8 inch bass a day. So go out there, catch bass, and don’t forget a camera!