It's almost here – the moment where bass opens across every zone in Ontario!
With so many new and returning anglers choosing bass as their summer species of fish to target, I decided to break down bass fishing into three different popular 'styles'. I will talk about how/when to utilize these styles, and what baits/lures to be tossing into the water.
Style #1: Open Water/Active Casting
Open water/Active casting is exactly how it sounds – you're constantly 'fan' casting in search for active fish in open water. Fan casting consists of casting systematically casting and retrieving at every angle possible in front of you (much like a paper fan...), covering every inch of water possible. This is a great technique when fishing deeper open water where there might be underwater structure. It is also a great technique for anglers that don't have electronics such as a fish finder/sonar, to find active fish for them to 'dial in' and fish more aggressively.
To best utilize this technique you'll want to use a search bait. Some of my favourite search baits to use on the water include Spinnerbaits, loud crankbaits, loud lipless crankbaits, and chatterbaits. Some of my favourite specific lures for this technique include:
Style #2: Jigging Structure
Structure jigging is one of the best ways to catch aggressive smallmouth bass. Many people think that structure jigging consists of only deeper water jigging for bass on a boat out on the lake – but they couldn't be further from the truth. Underwater structure can be in water as shallow as 1-2ft; bass love bellying in sand/gravel, and sitting between rocks/boulders. When I river fish I often use this style as my preferred method because it not only produces fish, but it is also fairly cheap and easy to utilize on the water. It is an overall great style of fishing that can be successful just about anywhere, anytime.
This style of fishing is simple because it requires very little equipment (I often only bring a pack of soft plastics, a pack of jigheads, and fluorocarbon leader line). Like I mentioned before – it is a great technique for days wading on the river; it allows you to be very light and versatile. Utilizing this style of fishing simply consists of rigging up your jighead (whether it be tube jig, twister jig, or minnow-style jig), casting it at stucture and jigging it back – bouncing along or just above bottom. For this style of fishing just about any jighead will work – as long as it has sharp hooks and the right weight... I usually use 1/8oz for anything from 1ft-15ft, and 3/8 or 1/2oz for anything deeper than 15ft. The soft plastics I like to use on the water include:
Sometimes for this style of fishing I like to spice it up with a little bit of stink to really get the fish biting.. My favourite scent to use is the Powerbait Bass attractant.
Style #3: Finesse Fishing
Sometimes there are situations where the fish need a little more of a 'soft touch' - this is where finesse fishing comes into play. This is a great style of fishing for pressured areas, areas of thick cover, and on hot summer days where fish are less active.
Some examples of finesse fishing include using weightless plastics (allowing for an extremely slow drop, giving the fish lots of time to investigate and ponder biting), drop-shotting for deeper water bass, and flipping through cover.
Using weighless plastics is a great producer on shallower lakes during hot days. Wacky rigging any stickbait such as a Gary Yamamoto Senko or a Yum Dinger can be absolutely deadly in grass/reeds or lillypads. Simply cast into the tiny spaces between grass/reeds/lillypads and wait for the 'tick' - once you feel that, chances are you've got a fish!
Drop-Shotting for bass is a good deep water technique, especially on the great lakes on mid-afternoon sunny days where bass start become more inactive. Locate structure, run a sinker lead anywhere from 2-4ft from your hook, throw a soft plastic such as a Power Minnow on, and jig away! This is also a great technique to use live bait on your hook (instead of soft plastics) - live bait is great for heavily pressured areas.
Flipping through cover for bass is somewhat similar to casting soft plastics for bass – you aim for small openings or 'weak areas' in surface slop, except your bait is going to sink to the bottom significantly quicker. Once your bait hits bottom wait a few seconds; bass in the area will most likely come to investigate. After a few seconds begin to lightly twitch your rod tip, or 'yoyo' your bait. If a fish hits you'll feel a solid 'thump' with little to no weight - don’t be fooled about feeling no weight/pressure; set the hook with a sweeping motion.
My favourite tackle/plastic combos for these techniques include:
I like to add a little scent for my flipping – my scent of choice for this style of fishing is the BANG crawfish scent.
I hope some of you new/returning anglers have been able to take some information that can be used on the water this summer! As always, have fun, stay safe, and happy fishing!