We make mistakes as anglers, and oftentimes it’s those mistakes that make us better. We try certain tactics, tie on certain baits, fish certain spots, and sometimes no matter what you do things don’t seem to go your way. Don’t get discouraged. Bass fishing can be a game of “walking the tightrope,” where sometimes you have no choice but to focus to stay on path. Understanding that there are situations where you need to buckle down and take things slow in order to achieve a result can be the difference between falling off the rope and making it to your goal. So slow down, take a deep breath, and focus on the little things produce that big outcome.
Boat position can make all the difference. If I had to pick one of the most overlooked aspects of bass fishing—that can change your overall success—it would be the position of your boat. I like to throw around a term quite often… “So many anglers are in the right spot, but they are not fishing the spot in the right way.” Meaning you may know all the best spots on the lake, but if you’re not approaching the spot in the right manner it can frustrate even some of the best anglers. How you present your bait—in reference to a spot—can make a lot of difference too. Biggest rule of thumb here; make sure and give a promising spot multiple angles and positions. Work the bait from shallow to deep and then also try deep to shallow. When fishing a dock line make sure to position your boat so you can cast at angles of the dock, and all depths. Some of the largest fish hold close to shore under docks, and not always under the end of docks. Give yourself the opportunity to know, without a doubt, that you've covered a spot adequately, and then make sure to remember what worked.
Big fish will eat small baits. Finesse applications have been a part of bass fishing for a long time, but there are still so many anglers that underutilize those tactics when necessary. We all love throwing spinnerbaits, running crankbaits, punching weeds, but there are many situations where a finesse presentation can outperform the “muscle” tactics. With many brands stepping up to the plate in recent years and designing high-quality finesse plastics, you now have an arsenal at your fingertips to play with. Finesse worms, shaky worms, drop-shot baits, jig worms—the list goes on and on. These are all viable options for finessing big bass. The Poc’it series from Mister Twister offers a nice array of finesse options. Whether you’re jig worming, shaky worming, finesse wacky- rigging, there are options to suit your fancy. Rigging these baits can be rather simple too. Sometimes it’s nothing more than a plain hook or jighead, other times you might incorporate a drop-shot weight and away you go. Sometimes the key to having success with finesse presentations is to keep things simple. These baits can also be fishing in just about any area of the lake. Playing with the rigging options might vary, but you can still use finesse tactics nonetheless.
Remember where you cast. This sounds obvious, but I don’t think we take this to heart as much as we should. Granted, it might come down to a certain situation, but making a consistent casting pattern can help increase your success. This goes hand-in-hand with boat position, but the actual act of casting to repetitive spots can mean more fish, especially in deeper water. Bass are a schooling fish in nature, especially when they move into those deeper water locations. A particular school of fish will also prefer a presentation (prey) to move off a piece of structure at a certain direction as well. Much-like we just hit home on making multiple casts from different angles; we further realize that a certain angle/cast produces more fish. This means you found the direction the bass prefer. So make a mental note of the direction and location you made your last successful cast, and then repeat. You’ll be surprised—and ecstatic—to see that you’ll catch several fish off the same casting pattern. It’s like a “feeding frenzy” erupts and the fish can’t help themselves. I like to drop a waypoint once I hook a fish and then focus on a spot near shore where I made the cast. Then I position my boat back on the waypoint and make that same cast towards the visual marker on shore. This is an easy way to ensure you’re making the same cast. Then once you get the hang of it you’ll find yourself doing it on instinct without needing to enter a waypoint. Make the same cast and see if you can get that school fired up.
Don’t be afraid to do nothing. I know that just sounded horrible, but it has a double meaning. By “doing nothing” I mean implement the tactic of dead- sticking. Let your bait sit motionless. If you know bass are in an area then let them come pick it up. There are many situations where bass exhibit similar behaviors to a kid who sees a cookie sitting on the table. They know that cookie is there and it’s only a matter of time before they snatch it up. So many times I’ ve found myself watching my line while letting a jig worm or wacky-rigged Comida sit on a weed line, weed pocket or hard bottom flat. Having faith that fish are in the area is critical though. Sometimes it’s that “do nothing” approach that fills the boat. We’ve all seen those days where setting the rod down to grab something to drink turns into the best bite of the day. So guess what, you’ve already figure out the pattern.
Bass can challenge just about anyone on any given day. Pulling out the kitchen sink might not always be the best approach. Taking a step back, analyzing the situation, and then focusing on some of the slower, smaller aspects of fishing can ensure a safe route to the desired end result. Walking a tightrope is not a thing of speed or power, but rather an act of focus and determination, and sometimes it’s those moments of concentration, poise and positioning that turn a day on the water into something great!