Post date: Friday, October 21, 2011 - 12:12
Updated date: 2/6/17
Largemouth Bass - Micropterus salmoides

 

The Largemouth Bass.  Just mention the name of this fish and anglers will go glassy eyed with reverence.  Words like exciting, aggressive, exhilerating, hard-fighting, and tenacious will always be heard.  "Old Bucketmouth", as it is known, is the #1 gamefish in the United States, and with good reason.  Everybody likes bass fishing, but did you know you can catch tons of bass without all the crazy equipment and technology that professional bass fishermen use?  It's true, and let me tell you, fooling a largemouth with a simple fly or a live frog, while wading or kayaking through the weedy shallows, is a hell of a lot more fun than cranking them in from the deck of a massive, glittering, exhaust-spewing monstrosity of a modern bass boat. I mean, come on, people - bass are easy to catch. If you need all that commercial crap to catch them, then you must be a pretty bad fisherman.

 


Description

 

The Largemouth Bass is the largest of the sunfishes, with some strains reaching weights up to around 20 pounds in the south. It is a chunky fish, short and fat, with an overall greenish coloration on the back, a black stripe down the side, and a white belly. The mouth extends back past the eye, and opens up into a circular cavern that can engulf almost anything.

 


Habitat

 

Largemouths like cover, in the form of weeds, logs, stumps, and brush. They are usually found in lakes, backwaters, and slow-moving river sections. Lilly pads, hydrilla, coontail mats, and cabbage all are acceptable weedy cover for largemouths. They often lurk in weed pockets where they can ambush prey that wanders by. Although they are at home in the shallows, they also relate to deep weedlines and breaks, especially later in the season and during the heat of the day. Dawn and dusk will find bass in the shallows, hunting frogs and smaller sunfish.

 


Tactics

 

There's so much information out on the web, TV, various books, and even dozens of magazines devoted specifically to the Largemouth that I'll just go into how we like to fish for them. We like to go after bass when they are aggressively hunting for food. Hell, if the bass are neutral or just not biting, I'd rather go carp fishing than spend thousands of dollars trying to figure out how to catch fish that don't want to bite.

 

However you manage to get a largemouth bass on the end of your line it will battle ferociously to the end and test your angling skills, leaving you wanting more action. They are famous for jumping, tailwalking, bulldogging, and bushwhacking while fighting the fisherman. Because of this, people tend to over-gear for largemouths. While they catch a lot fewer bass than you would using light tackle, the ones you do catch on heavy gear can be winched out of the weeds without any fight at all. That just doesn't sound like much fun, now does it? Of course not. Set yourself up with a medium-weight spinning or casting rod and ten-pound test line.

 

Largemouths spawn in early summer, when water temps reach 65 degrees. Males guard the large, dish-shaped nest viciously, attacking anything and everything that comes near. Bass should not be targeted on thier beds, however, because in the short time the male is off the bed all smaller fish in the vicinity will raid the nest of its' precious eggs. Fishing for the females off the first break can be successful at this time, but most are recuperating from the spawning process and not yet feeding consistently. The Largemouth is really a fish of summer, as they thrive in the bright sun and heavy, choking weeds. Forage would include frogs, mice, crayfish, other sunfishes, shiners, crayfish and ducklings, just to name a few. They will lay under logs and stumps in the shallows, and ambush anything that wanders near. Fishing for the Largemouth is mainly a game of fishing these areas of shoreline cover after a careful and quiet approach. Also make a cast to any rock, weed clump or depression right on shore. Bass will be up in these types of cover at dawn and dusk, ready to pounce on anything that annoys them. Mid- day may find them off cabbage edges or deep pockets in the lily pads, still under 10 feet deep. For shallower work deer-hair bugs or bendback divers, along with weedless streamers all work well when fished on an 8 wt. flyrod. Chuck your flies basically onto land, then give them a twitch or two. Let it sit for 10 to 60 seconds, then begin a steady retrieve. Bass will absolutely try to destroy a surface bug, but try to wait a second before jamming the hook home. This will definitely hook more fish for you. Another great presentation for covering expanses of thick cover is a buzzbait. Buzzers will go through anything without getting hung up, and the ruckus they kick up drives bass crazy. Pike love 'em too. Another method you can employ, my personal favorite, works best on waters that don't recieve a lot of pressure. Simply poke the nose of your craft around a point and scan the shallows for cruising or holding bass. They aren't all that spooky, and sight-casting to trophy largemouths with some kind of soft plastic or fly presentation is about as exciting as bass fishing gets. We all need to remember that a lake's population of Largemouth bass is a truly fragile resource. I personally know what strict catch and release can do for a lake, and have also fished on waters with a lot of catch and kill. There is no comparison in the quality of fishing. Keep a big bass and you're contributing to the weakened genetics that lead to stunting.

 

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