Smallmouth Bass Lures

Smallmouth Bass Lures

The Best Smallmouth Bass Lures

Knowing which lure to use based on current conditions is the best thing any angler can learn to catch more fish and be more successful at catching smallmouth bass consistently. Deciding on which good smallmouth bass lures to use depends directly on the current water temperature.

Finding the best spots for smallmouth fishing is only part of the equation which becomes second nature to recognize which sites look “fishy.” However, getting the fish hiding in those areas to eat is another essential skill to master.

A group of expert anglers and professional fishing guides put together this complete guide to give you the rundown of the best types of lures, their specific favorites, and when and how to use each one.

The Best Lures To Use Are:
  • Topwater Lures – Heddon Spook and Rapala X Rap Pop
  • Small Soft Plastics – Bass Pro Shops Tender Tube, Storm Wildeye Live Goby, and YUM Craw Papi
  • Crankbaits – Cotton Cordell Big O Crankbait and Bomber Fat Free Shad
  • Spinnerbaits – Booyah Blade
  • Jigs – Strike King Bitsy Bug and Luck “E” Strike Smallmouth Hair
  • Jerkbaits – The Flit 120
bucktail jig - great cold water baits

Smallmouth Bass Lure Breakdowns

Topwater Lures

When targeting smallmouth bass, the best topwater bait styles are walk the dog lures, such as the Heddon Spook and the Rapala X Rap Pop.

The Rapala’s thin, cupped mouth makes the kind of commotion that imitates shad activity splashing and walking on the surface, while its sleek body promotes long casts. Its tail-down posture also helps improve hookups.

The best time to fish topwater is when there isn’t a chop on the water or heavy cloud cover. So early morning and evening are usually best, but midday can work too on sunny calm days.

The classic side-to-side walking action with noisy rattles naturally taunts the smallmouth bass into vicious strikes, even from the fish that are surprisingly deep. Also, the sharp rotating treble hooks of the spook decrease the chance of shake-offs from the aggressive bass.

Technique

Fish a spook with long, slow pulls so it glides back and forth like a snake swimming on the surface. Even the slightest tugs will bring these topwater lures to life to land that trophy smallmouth. There is no better feeling for an angler than a hard topwater strike from an aggressive smallie. Any walk the dog lure will generally work since they all appear like a struggling baitfish, making for an easy meal.

Water Temperature

The topwater bite seems to be best when the temperature of the water is about 65 degrees. However, any temperature between 55 and 72 can potentially lead to your next memorably topwater bite from an aggressive smallie.

vertical jigging fire tiger

Small Soft Plastics

Soft plastics generally fall into the finesse fishing lure category. The preferred soft plastics are tubes, kietech paddle tails, and ned rigs.

The Bass Pro Shops Tender Tube is a favorite. Its wiggling tentacles will entice even the pickiest of smallmouth bass into biting, and the tube’s soft body makes them hold on even longer.

The Storm Wildeye Live Goby is another excellent option. The non-native goby is an invasive fish found in the Great Lakes region, which the smallmouths love. However, even in the areas devoid of this bottom-hugging forage species, the Storm’s head-weighted Goby imitator will often entice a bite still.

The YUM Craw Papi is undoubtedly a lure worth mentioning since smallmouths will hardly ever turn down a crayfish meal. The limber, flapping motion of the large, thin claws on this bait creates a convincing display.

Technique

Typically anglers can fish all soft plastic finesse lures the same way by dragging and hopping the bait along the bottom. They are ideal for rock piles and sandy bottoms to find smallmouth bass cruising for gobies.

When fishing tube baits, anglers can use a 60-degree tube jig head to drag and drift it, so the tube kicks up the bottom while plowing forward. Another option is to rig with a 90 degree head for exaggerated cracking presentations when verticle jigging.

These soft plastics are usually best when fished from a boat, so anglers can easily retrieve them without getting caught between rocks. All soft plastics should be rigged with a jig head to keep them on the bottom. This setup also keeps the head down and tail end facing up, mimicking a Goby or crayfish. They can all be rigged weedless when situations call for it.

Water Temperature

These lures are an excellent cold-water technique as well as in warmer water when dealing with lethargic fish. These baits are very hard to resist that even the most lethargic fish takes them in most cases. So any time you’re having a hard time getting a bite with other lures, whether it be in extremely cold water temps or warmer ones, the baits that sink to the level of the bass and hop off the bottom will often work.

fish bait facing upwards

Crankbaits

The Cordell Big O is the original square-lip crankbait and is effective on all types of bass, especially largemouth bass and smallmouth bass, as well as other popular gamefish. The short, squared lip lures deflect off the cover, making them excellent options in most bass lakes that are full of vegetation and other cover.

The Bomber Fat-Free Shad is another excellent crankbait with its realistic colors and eyes, and deep-diving abilities. Its flat-sided profile helps dig down in the deeper water reaching depths of 14-18 feet with No. 2 hooks. In addition, this shad has an enticing action that temps even the hard-to-reach smallmouth bass. Its rotating treble hook then helps keep the fish on once hooked.

A Blade Bait is simply a metal crankbait that features the two treble hooks on each end. They are very effective because of their vibrations that draw reaction strikes from smallmouth bass.

Technique

These lures have a buoyant body and the ability to deflect cover. So smallmouth anglers should crank them over rock, gravel, or vegetation where the smallmouth typically eat, depending on the fishery.

When fishing with a blade bait, anglers want to raise the rod tip then lower it to reel in the slack. This motion makes the bait vibrate and swim in an upward direction, then flutter down as it sinks, mimicking an injured baitfish. These are very popular smallmouth lures in the fall.

Water Temperature

Smallmouth fishing with blade baits is a very effective cold water technique, but they can be used in the warmers months too.

early spring smallmouths

Spinnerbaits

Spinnerbaits are generally flashy and effective when it comes to smallmouth bass fishing. The Booyah Blade is an excellent choice for a spinnerbait with its bright red flaring gills and a head that offers a realistic target for the fish. Its made out of quality material and light, 0.35 gauge wire made for maximum vibration, and is easily retuned after each bite.

Technique

Target the windblown sides of the structure or cover with your spinning gear and spinner bait. Smallmouth anglers generally want to use a faster retrieve in clear water and a slower retrieve in murky water.

Fish a spinnerbait along rock piles and weed edges to entice a smallmouth that is feeding aggressively. These are good lures to use when fishing deeper water anywhere from six feet to over thirty feet.

Water Temperature

Spinnerbaits and crankbaits are power fishing lures and are very popular during the times the smallmouths are active.

carolina rig and heavier jigs

Jigs

The favorite jig when targeting bass for our guides is the Strike King Bitsy Bug Jig, especially when targeting smallies playing hard to get. Downsizing to a finesse jig such as this one is often what it takes to get that bite finally.

The Luck “E” Strike Smallmouth Hair Jig is another favorite when fishing for smallmouths. This jig has a lifelike presence with glitter strands that accent its bucktail skirt. The bucktail skirt contracts and flares, creating a stop-and-go swimming motion or erratic hopping action.

Technique

Jigs are most effective when fishing in waters between 4 and 12 feet deep. Once you start using jigs 3/8 ounces or heavier, it’s best to use baitcasting gear. But for 1/4 ounce finesse jigs or lighter, it’s better to use spinning gear.

Water Temperature

Jigs are also a great lure option to have in your tackle box on every trip, no matter the time of year. They are the most popular and effective smallmouth bass lure overall. They are very popular smallmouth lures because there is no wrong time of year to be using one when smallmouth fishing. They also have the reputation of being big bass producers, so the potential at landing your next trophy smallmouth bass is good when fishing a jig.

smallmouth bass lures

Jerkbaits

Suspending jerkbaits are the best lure choices when fishing Northern lakes after the fall turnover when the smallmouths are more scattered and suspended. These lures work so well because they have the ability to be fished really slow, especially a suspending jerkbait. One of the best jerkbaits is the Flit 120. 

Technique

Suspending jerkbaits can be worked along rocky and sandy bottoms that drop dramatically from 5 feet to 20 feet. Natural colors are usually best, and working them slow is necessary when fishing in extremely cold water temps. In general, jerkbaits are excellent at getting a reaction strike.

Water Temperature

Jerkbaits are great in cold water, making them excellent fall and early spring go tos.

a few examples of smallmouth bass lures

Final Tips From The Pros

When smallmouth bass are actively feeding, they can make a largemouth bass look like a slug. When you are trying to target smallmouths specifically, remember to look for their preferred habitats. Usually, largemouths are found in weedy areas with heavy vegetation, while the smallmouth bass are typically found in areas with rocky and sandy bottoms. Smallmouths are also more likely to be found in better numbers in clear water rather than stained water.

If you need a go-to lure, then the experts suggest using a jig or a soft plastic lure with natural patterns. Smallmouths are almost always searching rocks for crawfish, which the jigs and soft plastics represent.

Generally, a smallmouth bass lure doesn’t have to be as weedless as largemouth lures since you will usually be on a rocky bottom. Also, smallmouth lures are generally smaller.

Good Smallmouth Bass Lures To Try:
  • Heddon Spook and Rapala X Rap Pop Topwaters
  • Bass Pro Shops Tender Tube, Storm Wildeye Live Goby, and YUM Craw Papi Soft Plastics
  • Cotton Cordell Big O Crankbait and Bomber Fat Free Shad Crankbait
  • Booyah Blade Spinnerbait
  • Strike King Bitsy Bug Jig and Luck “E” Strike Smallmouth Hair Jig
  • The Flit 120 Jerkbait

Experience Smallmouth Bass Fishing

If you’re interested in the ultimate smallmouth bass fishing adventure, then look no further as the Bassonline Guides are eager to take you out and make fishing memories that last forever. The best smallmouth bass fishing is happening at the Great Lake Erie in Pennsylvania, where we can get you on the best seasonal smallmouth bite. While on a smallmouth trip, anglers can also experience the area’s hard-fighting largemouth bass, walleye, and other popular species. Lake Erie and the surrounding area of Presque Isle Bay is breathtaking and a place that all smallmouth anglers of all ages should experience. There is no better place to experience smallmouth fishing and improve your skills!

Explore Smallmouth Trips

baitcasting outfit - smallmouth bass lures

First Time Fishing On A Charter

First Time Fishing On A Charter

What To Expect For Your First Time Fishing On A Charter

best fishing line and tackle box

So you’re deciding whether taking a fishing charter is right for you, if it’s a good gift for someone else, or you’ve already booked your trip, but now you’re struggling with planning and expectations. Release any of your worries, as taking a fishing charter with a local expert is one of the most fun and educational outdoor experiences someone can have.

Our industry experts have put together a comprehensive guide of what to consider beforehand, how to prepare, and what to expect, along with charter fishing tips to ensure you have the best time on the water. So now you can only focus on the excitement of your upcoming fishing trip!

Charter Fishing Tips From The Pros

practice casting live bait

Before The Trip

Every professional fishing charter company wants you to have a unique fishing experience that meets your wants and needs. So, the best thing to do before your charter is to have a general idea of what you and your group are hoping to accomplish while on the water. These tips will help ensure you know what to consider and communicate with your guide, so everyone on board is on the same page to create a memorable fishing adventure. The best thing you can do is communicate with your guide if you have expectations or preferences in mind.

summer spinning combo

Some Examples Of Fishing Charter Preferences To Mention To Your Captain

  • If someone is hoping to target a specific fish species
  • If someone is hoping to catch more fish numbers rather than focusing on size
  • If someone is hoping to land their PB (personal best) trophy fish
  • Do you plan to release fish or keep your catches?

And if everyone is simply looking for a fun day on the water, without any specific goals, it’s wonderful to enter with an open mind and leave it up to your guide to provide the best local experience for you!

improved clinch knot fishing tip

Other Things To Consider For Your Trip

How Involved Do You Want To Be

Your guide is here to do as much or as little as you want. This means that experienced anglers can cast out and do the whole process independently with the guide there to take you to the best spots, provide tips, and answer questions or assist when needed.

On the other hand, first-time anglers may need more hands-on work, and your interests will matter here. For example, if you are someone interested in learning more about fishing and the techniques, your guide can teach you how to cast and other basics. But if you are someone who simply wants a fun day on the water catching fish and relaxing, your guide can set up the bait and lure, cast out the rod, then let you reel in the fish.

So even if you’ve never been on a charter trip before, you may have a general idea of what you would like to learn or try, which would be excellent to communicate with your guide. A few things to consider could be a species you hope to catch, a technique you want to learn, or even a spot you want to visit.

Even letting your captain know this is your first fishing trip or if you’re a group of experienced anglers will help give your guide an idea of your skill levels. This way, he can prepare for teaching a beginner or work with other anglers who are experienced and looking for something specific.

what is charter fishing
How Far Do You Want To Travel

This question is essentially answered when you book your trip and choose a length. The shorter the trip, generally the less far you are going to travel. Of course, the type of boat and situation will vary depending on whether you are on a freshwater or saltwater fishing trip, whether inshore or out in deeper water offshore. But, if your reason for staying near shore is for restrooms, staying in calmer water because of seasickness, be sure to let your guide know if there are any concerns about where you are heading.

Of course, the length of the trip booked will ultimately play a role here on how far you go out, whether freshwater, coastal, or deep-sea fishing, but you should still let your guide know any concerns.

shore fishing
Understand The Length of Trip For Your Expectations

It’s essential to match your goals and expectations with the length of the trip booked. The length of your trip will play a role in how far out you travel in any body of water, which in turn may affect the type of fish you catch. This applies more to deep sea fishing trips than freshwater or inshore fishing, but it’s worth mentioning. If you only booked a half-day fishing trip, you won’t be traveling further out at sea into the deeper water where potentially, the bigger fish are. So if your goal is to catch pelagic trophies, you may want to consider booking a longer trip or at least mention it to your guide to see if it’s possible in a short journey depending on where you are fishing.

You will always be provided with the direct contact information of your captain for you to text or call anytime with any questions, concerns, or information you want them to know. Also, your captain will always contact you the night before to confirm any trip details with you prior, which is another excellent time to share your thoughts!

best rod lures hooks and reel to catch more fish
how to catch more fish

Know The Details

Communication is always key, and understanding your goals and expectations will help you know what to expect on the day of your first charter and how to prepare for your first guided fishing trip. Other things to be aware of are policies, what’s included, departure time, and meeting location.

Every charter company should clearly state their policies and what gear is included on their website, so it’s clear before you book. The meeting location and departure times should also be visible and shown in the booking confirmation.

Policies

Eat and Drink: Most charter companies want you to have a comfortable fishing day and will let you bring what you want to ensure that. You are allowed to bring any food or drink on any Bassonline fishing charter and can store it in the cooler on board that comes with ice and water. You are allowed alcohol, but it is preferred to avoid glass, and you can even bring bananas despite some other guides believing it’s bad luck.

Smoking: You are allowed to smoke, but out of courtesy, it’s best to ask your specific guide beforehand or let us know at the time of booking to ensure we put you with a guide that is ok with it.

Cleaning and Filleting: When it comes to cleaning and filleting your fish, please check with your guide when booking. The laws vary depending on location; for example, it is illegal at most freshwater lakes in Florida to fillet fish on the scene because of alligators. However, some freshwater areas in most states allow it, and essentially all saltwater fishing trips, both coastal and deep-sea fishing charters, allow it and include it in the service.

Transportation: Many guides will happily pick you up and drop you back off for your fishing trip, but this depends greatly on location. Some areas, such as fishing spots near busy cities, are not feasible for the guide to travel through with his boat trailer. It is always worth asking if transportation is a concern for you; many guides will do it included in the charter fee, some will do it for an extra charge if it’s out of the way, and others will prefer not to do it or can’t because of logistics. Either way, most areas offer alternative solutions, such as Uber. Also, Bassonline works with a transfer service that can be arranged and added to your fishing price in most locations.

Cancellation: The cancellation policy should be clearly stated on all charter websites. Bassonline has free cancellation up to 72 hours before the trip. There will never be a cancellation charge when it comes to weather, even though this is usually determined at the last minute. In the case of bad weather on your fishing day, we will do our best to reschedule you for another day based on your schedule, and if it doesn’t work out, you will receive a full refund. If anglers cancel the trip at the last minute or no-show, the deposit will be kept.

best rod tip to hook fish

What’s Included

Every Bassonline fishing charter comes with everything needed for a successful day on the water, including all necessary gear for every angler like a fishing rod, fishing line, fishing tackle or lures, a cooler with ice and water, fuel, boat, and professional captain or crew. 

The only two additional costs on all freshwater fishing charters are live bait if using and a fishing license. Live bait on all bass fishing charters is an additional cost and will be added to the balance due after fishing at the end of the trip. Your guide will pick up the bait from the local tackle shop before the trip. Details for getting a freshwater fishing license can be found here.

Inshore and deep-sea fishing trips vary a little more as far as bait and will be confirmed by your guide; however, fishing licenses are not needed for anglers on a saltwater fishing charter as the captain and his license will cover them.

hook in fish's mouth

Departure Time

You choose your departure time at the time of booking, and it is clearly shown on your booking confirmation. There are predetermined time slots for most charters for the morning, usually 7 AM, and the afternoon, usually 1 or 2 PM. If you would like a custom start time, please let us know, and we will do our best to accommodate.

The departure time will also be confirmed the night before your trip when your captain calls you to discuss the trip. In most cases, the time won’t be changed, especially for freshwater bass trips, but there are times of the year when the bite may be much better earlier or even later, and your guide will let you know to see if you can adjust the time.

Saltwater trips, especially deep sea fishing, depend more on tides, so the start times are more likely to change.

catching fish on first charter

Meeting Location

The meeting location is shown on the website of your charter company and should also be confirmed in the booking confirmation. Bassonline provides a Google Maps version of this on every destination page and a clickable link on every booking confirmation to click and take you straight to the maps on your phone. The meeting location will typically not change, but it is possible it may be adjusted for reasons such as a marina being under renovation, general construction along the way, or your guide thinks a location nearby will provide you with a better fishing experience. The changed meeting location will be close to your original one and will always be confirmed with you before your charter date.

If you have any questions about an area, don’t hesitate to ask your guide. Your captain is a local expert who spends a lot of time at this boat ramp and the nearby area. Always feel free to ask for directions or parking instructions if needed. It’s a good idea to check the map to see how far you are and plan your departure time ahead of time.

fishing tips for beginners

Packing For Your Trip

Now that you are aware of the details of your charter and communicating with your guide, it’s time to prepare for your fishing adventure.

Clothes and Shoes: Always remember that nothing special is required. Most people show up in their casual, comfortable wear, which can vary from person to person. For example, some people only wear bathing suits while others are fully geared up in sun shirts, buffs, and pants. Sandals and sneakers are both appropriate and up to personal preference.

It’s best to layer up in any season. During the cooler months, anglers should layer up with jackets in the morning; then, they can take some layers off as the weather warms up. For a summer fishing adventure, many people will start with a bathing suit or tank tops but may have to cover up more if they are prone to burning. It all depends on your tolerance to the sun and the weather. It is a good idea to have a rain jacket on hand just in case.

Sunscreen, Hats, and Sunglasses: It’s a good idea to bring sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect you from the sun. Any sunglasses are fine, but most people prefer polarized for fishing as they help see through the water in some locations that may allow for sight fishing. This most often applies to saltwater, especially inshore fishing, but it could also apply to some shallower freshwater spots.

Seasickness Meds: Seasickness isn’t usually a concern for bass fishing charters, but if going deep sea fishing, motion sickness medication such as Dramamine is a good idea to take beforehand and bring with you.

Storage: You can bring a backpack with any food or drinks and other items mentioned above that you may be bringing. If you are planning on keeping fish, be sure to bring a cooler large enough to hold them in. You can bring your own small cooler for food and drinks if you prefer, but it is unnecessary for Bassonline charters as your guide will have a cooler onboard filled with ice for you.

Food and Drinks: As mentioned, you can bring any food or drinks you want. It’s most important you stay hydrated. Your Bassonline guide will have water for you in the ice cooler provided on board but feel free to bring more or any other drinks you may want.

Your favorite gear (optional): Your captain will have everything you need for a successful fishing day, including all fishing gear, fishing tackle, and bait, so there is no need to bring anything. However, some anglers have their favorite fishing rod, fishing line, reel, lures, etc., and they are more than welcome to bring them along.

Fishing License: Be sure to take care of your fishing license before your charter. No one wants to waste valuable time, especially when it’s your first time fishing, getting a license. Also, it’s not available at most locations to get on site. Anglers have to purchase fishing licenses in advance online or at a sporting goods store. Every state is different; for example, in Florida, you do not need a hard copy, but in Pennsylvania, you do. See all license details again here.

fishing charter tip

Trip Day

The day has finally come for your first fishing adventure! To ensure everything goes smoothly, have a checklist to make sure you don’t forget anything (you can use the above section as a starter if you want). The second thing is to make sure you map out where you are going and plan necessary travel time ahead of time to avoid scrambling or being late. The best thing to do is to allow extra time regardless, just in case any unexpected traffic or construction is happening on your route.

Aim to be at the meeting spot about 15 minutes before your start time to allow time to get things situated without cutting into your fishing time.

fishing charter tips

Meet Your Captain

When you arrive, you will finally get to meet your captain and any crew members if you are taking a deep-sea fishing trip. This is a great time to get comfortable with everyone and start the day off to have a good relationship for a successful day.

Most fishing guides are full of amazing stories that they love to share; other guides are quieter but still experts on the water. Our guides love to share their craft and teach others, so don’t hold back any questions you may think of throughout the day! This is especially important for a beginner fishing for the first time.

fishing tips for new anglers

Getting On The Boat

For anybody who doesn’t spend much time on boats, it may take a moment to get comfortable. Bass fishing charters are the best way to get accustomed to being on a boat as lake waters are much calmer than the open ocean. But either way, be sure to walk carefully when moving around and hold on to something went the boat is in motion. Your captain can help you board if needed or look for something to grab and help you comfortably get on the boat.

Once you are on the boat, get your belongings situated. Your captain will show you where the cooler is for you to put any food or drink in. They will then show you where the dry storage is to keep your things secure; this usually is under a seat or in a storage compartment near the bow or stern. Many first-time anglers underestimate the importance of dry storage, especially on a lower boat like a bass boat.

Getting To The Spot

It’s important to understand that the fishing slot you booked covers both fishing and traveling time. So if you booked a six-hour trip, you wouldn’t be fishing the entire six hours as you need travel time to get to the spot and back. The extent to this varies depending on the type of charter and location. For instance, a bass fishing charter will be spending a majority of its booked time fishing as the travel time is much less to get to the fishing spot on a lake as opposed to getting to the spot on a saltwater charter. Long travel times mostly come into play for offshore or deep sea fishing charters.

Travel time is an excellent time to either relax and enjoy the beautiful lake or ocean or ask all your questions to prepare for your fishing time. Use this time to learn all you can!

what to expect on fishing charter

The Fishing

It’s called fishing and not catching, and most companies can’t guarantee a catch. Bassonline, on the other hand, does guarantee a no-fish no pay policy on most freshwater charters! 

But overall, many factors can affect how the fish bite each day, such as weather, tides, and seasons, so maintaining realistic expectations is critical. However, your guide will always be transparent ahead of time if he thinks there will be any significant issues trying to catch fish on your charter day.

Remember to make the most of your adventure. Use this time to enjoy learning a new skill, spending time with your friends and family, and spending time in the great outdoors.

Your guide will let you know any fishing tips and tricks along the way to ensure you have as much success as possible. Your captain will work with you along the way (doing as much or as little as you want) to help you catch more fish numbers, your targeted species, or your trophy depending on what you are after.

Follow what your guide says, and you have a good chance of catching a fish for the first time! When you hook your first fish, that feeling will create a lifelong memory and leave you hooked for life on the sport. Enjoy this moment, get a picture with your fish, then you can either release the fish or keep it depending on the situation.

first fishing charter tips

After The Charter

You just completed your first fishing adventure and are now returning to the dock. Make sure you collect all your belongings from the dry storage and the cooler before leaving the boat.

If you are on a charter that involves your captain cleaning and filleting your catch, that will be done once everyone is off the boat.

charter fishing tips
Payment

After the trip is also when you pay the balance of your trip to your guide, bassonline guides can accept both cash and credit cards. They will add any additional charges like live bait to your balance.

Tipping

It is customary and appreciated to give a tip to your fishing guide. This can be done by adding gratuity to your credit card payment or with cash. A standard gratuity in the fishing industry is 15-20% of the trip rate and is not included in the original rate. However, any tip amount that you feel is appropriate is appreciated.

fishing tips for casting bait

Say Goodbye and Tell Us Your Thoughts

All great angling adventures must come to an end eventually, but luckily you are always welcome to come fish with us again! The final thing anglers should do is to write a review for their guide. This can be done directly after your trip or a day or so after, whatever works for you. If you have any thoughts about what stood out the most to you and made your first time fishing amazing, or anything that can be improved or tips for another beginner, we want to hear about it!

charter basics

Top fishing Charter Tips

The number one thing is to decide any goals and expectations then communicate with your guide. 

Communicating ahead of time ensures your guide can prepare accordingly and avoids any disappointment. For example, if you had a goal to catch a specific fish species, but that species is out of season, your guide will be able to let you know ahead of time. Then you can agree to either target a different species or reschedule your fishing trip for another date when it is in season.

Remember, this is your fishing adventure of a lifetime, and we are just here to make a fishing dream a reality!

Have everything packed or laid out the night before, so you aren’t scrambling, especially for those early morning trips. Then get a good night’s sleep and be ready for a fishing adventure of a lifetime!

Overall, there is nothing for new anglers to worry about when it comes to their first fishing adventure. Your professional guide is here to help you the entire way. If you have a question at any time from the time of booking until the end of your fishing trip, do not hesitate to ask your guide. He will help you prepare as well as help you learn and catch fish while on the water.

Most importantly, remember to have fun, and welcome to the club of becoming hooked on the sport of fishing!

fishing tips - what to wear on charter to catch fish

Every Bassonline Fishing Charter Will:

  • Have the start time, length of trip, meeting address, and captain’s direct phone number on every booking confirmation.
  • Have your guide call you before the trip to confirm the details and answer any questions.
  • Have all gear you will need along with a cooler with ice and water. So you don’t have to bring anything, only if you want to!
  • Accept cash or card.

Choosing Your Next Adventure

Explore Freshwater Bass Fishing Trips

Explore Saltwater Fishing Trips

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The Best Summer Fishing For Bass

The Best Summer Fishing For Bass

The Best Summer Fishing For Bass

Summertime fishing can vary greatly depending on where you are, leaving you feeling hopeless as the fish move to deeper water and wait until the weather cools down. But a few anglers are out there still catching big bass while many anglers wait until the fall or spring. The warmer months make for dramatic changes in the bass behavior; some lakes are on fire while others are ghost towns. So in order to catch bass in the summer, it all comes down to where to go.

The Best Summer Bass Fishing Lakes

Florida: Lake Toho, Headwaters Lake, The Everglades, The Golden Gate Canal, and The Falls Canal System

Pennsylvania: Lake Erie

The late summer is an excellent time to gather the family and travel to some of the best bass fishing destinations because you’ll get the ultimate fishing experience without the crowd!

summer bass fishing drop shot

Where To Catch Bass In Summer

Almost every angler has found themselves asking where are the bass in the summer? Despite the number of big baits or reaction baits you have or how long you keep the bait in a suspected strike zone, some lakes are going to be better than others during the summer season.

The main factor that tends to affect the consistency of a fishery throughout the year, even during the hot times, is vegetation. Of course, many factors can supplement whether a waterway will produce during the summer. Still, it seems to always come back to the quality and quantity of vegetation and the presence of non-deep structures.

If the fish have to rely on going into deep water to find comfort, it is challenging for anglers to know where to cast as the open water is harder to read. But the fisheries that have a lot of structure, whether it be floating vegetation, grass, stumps, or submerged trees, will provide excellent insight on how to spend your day. These structures provide adequate shade and a comfortable ambush point for bass to hide and wait for bait regardless of the outside heat. Below is a list of all the best summer bass fishing spots for anglers of all ages and skill levels to experience.

early summer deep diving crankbait

Best Summer Fishing Spots

Florida

The best summertime bass fishing in Florida from north to south is at Lake Toho in Kissimmee, Headwaters Lake in Fellsmere, The Everglades, The Goldengate Canal in Naples, and The Falls Canal System in Miami. 

Lake Toho

Lake Tohopekaliga, commonly known as Lake Toho, is located in Kissimme, about 30 minutes from the theme parks. Its central location makes it perfect for the ultimate summer family vacation to experience the best of Central Florida fishing and other tourist attractions. The fishery itself is also very family and child-friendly as it has walking trails, grills, picnic areas, restrooms, and a splash pad with a playground.

When it comes to catching big fish, Lake Toho is always one of the lakes that comes to mind for our professional guides. This spot is known for constantly producing more big bass than any other fishing lake. It’s no mistake that pro Dean Rojas names Lake Toho “the most consistent lake in the country for producing both numbers and trophy bass” in Bassmaster magazine’s issue of top 100 lakes.

Tips and Techniques

Lake Toho has relatively shallow water, with a max depth of about 13 feet. It is filled with vegetation and holding spots to catch big bass or numbers throughout the year. The area has all the essentials, including shallow grass flats, maidencane, natural bullrush, and hydrilla.

It’s always a good time for a bass fishing trip here; however, it’s essential to know where to go as the summer bass are usually in different spots than other times of the year. Some of the best summer bass fishing areas are Browns Point, Big Grassy, and Lanier Point. The north shore is another excellent spot to catch fish as it’s packed with tall grasses that often conceal big bass.

how to catch big bass in hot months

Headwaters Lake (Fellsmere Reservoir)

Whether you call it Fellsmere Reservoir, Headwaters Lake, Lake Eden, or Lake Headwaters, it all means hot summer bass fishing for big largemouths! This fishery is a 10,000-acre man-made lake in Indian River county that borders Stick Marsh, Farm 13, Blue Cypress, and Lake Garcia. Its numerous underwater features create ideal spots for summertime bass to hide, which means more fish in arms reach for summer anglers!

The average depth of this reservoir is about 6 feet deep, with some parts reaching over 30 feet deep. However, since these aggressive bass have so many spots that provide shade and shelter, they don’t have as much need to hide in deep water where they are hard to find or get to eat.

Tips and Techniques

The thousands of acres of submerged trees, underwater vegetation, and quality hydrilla make it optimal to find bass in the summer. However, this fishery looks so good that it’s sometimes hard to know where to start. Typically it’s best to find an area with healthy-looking emerging vegetation, such as spatterdock pads or cattails, and cast near those.

There’s a spot for every type of angler to use their favorite bait, whether your preference is hitting the shoreline, casting under lily pads, targeting submerged trees, or slow-rolling swimbaits through the grass. There are so many fishy-looking spots that this is one of those destinations that needs multiple days to be adequately fished and experienced.

Headwaters has continued to prove to be one of the most consistent bass fishing lakes around. While most spots have strong highs and lows, Fellsmere has continued to produce. Even on the days where there aren’t trophies, there are still good numbers and decent-sized fish around to catch throughout the year.

heavy cover and keep in strike zone longer

The Everglades

Summer bass fishing in the Everglades is the ultimate Florida experience. This fishery, located in southeast Florida, has not slowed down as the warmer months have approached. Instead, the bite has been on fire since early summer and has continued through late summer, likely because of the beautiful area’s heavy cover and thriving ecosystem.

The Everglades covers a large area. Your fishing guide will always recommend the best location to launch based on conditions; however, the most popular spots for summer bass fishing trips are Holiday Park, Sawgrass, and Alligator Alley. Summertime fishing in the Everglades means incredible sightseeing and wildlife viewing by boat while catching Florida’s favorite species, including largemouth and peacock bass.

This fishery is not as much known for having big bass, but it is undoubtedly known for its numbers with many quality-sized fish to hook. An 8-pounder is relatively common while fishing here and considered large for this spot.

Tips and Techniques

An effective fishing method is to use floating lures with braided lines near vegetation or structure such as sunken trees or lily pads. Plastic lures are usually the most effective to catch fish here, especially in the form of a lizard, Senko, or swimbait. The experts generally suggest starting the early morning off with a topwater frog, spinnerbaits, or chatter baits when the wind is blowing harder. Plastic worms will always be a go-to, especially on the hot, calm summer days.

glide bait and wacky rig

The Golden Gate Canal

The Golden Gate Canal in Southwest Florida is conveniently located between Naples and Marco Island, near its pristine beaches and Everglades National Park. It’s a top-notch fishery that provides excellent fishing opportunities to catch largemouth bass, peacocks, and panfish all in one trip. The summertime fishing here has not disappointed; anglers are catching numerous summer bass on every trip, even in the middle of the hottest months. In fact, the summer heat is precisely what the peacock bass love. Some popular saltwater species like snook and tarpon also commonly make their way into this canal system to add to the excitement.

Tips and Techniques

The summer bass fishing is consistent for all species, with peacock bass being the most active and commonly caught during this time. The spring and winter seasons are generally when bigger largemouths will be caught. In general, this fishery is best for its consistency and constant action rather than size, with 5 to 6 pounds being typical for the largemouth bass.

If going after the panfish like bluegills and redear sunfish, anglers can almost always get a bite on a cricket, earthworm, or small minnow throughout the year. A mix of live baits and artificial lures is used on the Gold Gate, with shiners usually the most successful bait for summer fishing, especially for the peacocks.

texas rig and brush pile

The Falls Canal

The Falls Canal System in Miami is the most productive peacock bass fishery in the state. It totals 13.5 miles of navigatable waters, comprising of four sections. The system is home to lots of South Florida wildlife and is the best place to go if your goal is to hook a trophy peacock bass fish. On your summer bass fishing trip at the Falls, you can expect to catch peacocks of good size, along with largemouth bass, the Mayan cichlid, snook, and tarpon. In addition, the various types of fish and other wildlife that call this topical area home dramatically adds to the adventure of being on this scenic waterway.

Tips and Techniques

The Falls is full of coral rocks, which is where the peacock bass usually hold to. The average depth is 12 feet, with many canals having vertical drops and edges reaching up to 30 feet. Many of the lakes found in the system have sand bottoms about 10 feet deep. The thriving environment here makes for a happy, healthy fishery throughout the year.

Live bait is usually the most way to hook a peacock, especially shiners. However, crankbaits, spoons, and topwater plugs are generally the best artificial lures to land a feisty peacock. A topwater lure or hard jerk bait will often produce a solid reaction strike from these colorful fish. It’s best to focus on rocky areas near structures using topwaters, minnow-like crankbaits, or small shiners.

steady retrieve baits and lures

Pennsylvania

Lake Erie

Lake Erie, Pennsylvania, is a breathtaking fishery covering 57 miles at its widest point. Erie contains an abundance of our favorite gamefish, allowing anglers to catch over 15 million fish every year. In addition, the warmer temperatures and shallow water of Erie make it the most biologically productive of all other Great Lakes. As a result, field and Stream chose Erie as one of the top-20 family fishing spots in the nation.

The northern shore of Erie is the international border with Canada, its eastern shores are in New York, and the southern and western boundaries are in Michigan and Ohio. However, its become apparent that the most productive fishing spots are on the Pennsylvania side of Erie.

The fishery is famous for its quality-sized sport fish species like walleye, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, yellow perch, crappie, bluegill, and steelhead. Because of its relatively shallow water, the lake warms up quickly in the spring and summer for its prime fishing season.

Tips and Techniques

While summer fishing in PA, anglers can troll the open water to hook walleye or stick to fishing spots closer to shore. Our favorite spot is Presque Isle, where its warm waters are filled with game fish. The western and central basins often hold some of the larger fish. The baits that attract the most strikes are trolling crankbaits or spinnerbaits with bottom bouncers. This Pennsylvania area really comes alive in the summer, providing anglers with the ultimate summer bass fishing adventure.

deep diving crankbait and glide bait

Planning Your Summer Bass Fishing Adventure

Almost every bass angler longs for the perfect summer vacation that mixes a once-in-a-lifetime fishing experience with memorable visits to new places with their loved ones. There is no better summer vacation spot than almost any part of Florida or Presque Isle Bay, Pennsylvania. These spots all offer something unique and are producing quality summertime fishing trips. These fisheries can be challenging to navigate or know where to start and best practices to use, but your professional guide is here to support you the whole way while on your private charter. Targeting summertime bass is a challenge that will improve any angler’s ability to read the water and learn where and how to land game fish during any time of the year.

Explore Your Bass Fishing Opportunities here, or check out our pontoon fishing trips for your big group!

Message us or call 888-629-2277 to plan the ultimate summer bass fishing adventure in the world’s top destinations!

drop shot texas rig  summertime bass

How To Catch Bass In Summer

How To Catch Bass In Summer

How To Catch Bass In Summer

There’s no reason to slow down on your bass fishing pursuits because it’s the hottest time of the year! Many anglers can thrive on the summertime bass bite; you just need to know where to look and how to entice them.

The Bassonline guides have created an in-depth guide with tips for summer bass fishing, including where and how to catch fish regardless of the predicted heat index.

Top Tips for Summer Bass Fishing:

Look in deep pockets, especially near structures like ledges, points, and brush piles. Live bait will generally draw more strikes. Skirted jigs, plastic worms, lipless crankbaits, or topwater frogs are usually the best artificial lure choices.

Summer bass still like to eat, but they will put in less effort to do so. So knowing how to find the bass and entice that hard strike that doesn’t require much movement from the fish is critical. Largemouth bass moving less but still eating a lot is a recipe for more trophy bass for the summer bass fishing anglers to enjoy!

deep diving crankbait for big fish

Summer Bass Fishing

How To Find Bass

Summer bass are most likely to be found under overhanging cover, near ledges and drop-offs, near humps, and points, in areas with water currents, and near dense floating vegetation. 

Overhanging Cover

The overhanging cover provides the largemouth bass with shade which is crucial during the hot summer. Look for docks, boathouses, trees, or anything that makes a shady area for the bass to hang out in.

Shady water can be 10 degrees cooler than the water only feet away in the hot sun, so this means there is more oxygen in the cooler water. Bass and the small fish that bass eat both like the oxygen. The shaded areas are also ideal because small baitfish gather in these spots to avoid birds and other avian predators and makes for an excellent place for bass to ambush the bait.

Ledges and Drop Offs

Look for areas where the water drops off from a shallow area into a deeper pool. These are especially common in reservoirs and a great spot to check. During low light times, anglers can start the search on the shallower part on top of the ledge casting down into the deep part and retrieve up the ledge. During times of full sunlight, anglers sit over the ledge and cast parrel to the ledge retrieving straight up. The other option is to sit deep and cast into the shallow area retrieving down the ledge. In general, the big bass tend to stay closest to the ledge, whether below or above it.

Current

The water current brings food and oxygen to the bass, so they will strategically position themselves so the current will bring food and oxygen to them without any need to move. Some of the biggest bass are found near moving water, especially in the summer. Also, the current can be very minor to attract fish; as long as it can move any food, it’s an excellent place to cast.

Dense and Floating Vegetation

It’s always a good idea to look for bass underneath living, floating vegetation, especially in natural lakes. Look for hydrilla, lily pads, and hyacinth, the favorites for largemouth bass. The bass seek shelter underneath these areas for shade and for a good spot to ambush prey. The strategy is similar to the overhanding structure, except the bass generally prefer the floating vegetation since the cover extends into the water, adding extra shelter for them to hide and ambush.

If you find a place where a raft of hyacinth drifted into a bed of lily pads or hydrilla, you may have found a gold mine and should start casting your line. More than likely, there will be bass there and likely the big bass. To catch big bass under the floating vegetation, it’s best to use weedless muck baits such as rats or frogs then drag them over the top. Then, be ready for the hardest strike of your life!

When fishing below the surface under vegetation, small craws are generally the best way to go. Usually, the prey living near matted vegetation are small such as crawfish or sunfish, so using a smaller bait is the best way to match the hatch in this scenario.

big baits to catch bass

When To Fish

Bass ultimately can be caught all day, every day using various techniques; however, when it comes to the overheated largemouth bass, it’s best to avoid the hottest part of the day in the summer. Late evening and early morning will almost always provide anglers with the best opportunities of landing a big bass in the summer.

Night fishing is another great option for summer fishing. As the sun goes down or once it is down, go fishing for some bass that have cooled down enough to be motivated to find their next meal. Topwaters are a great lure choice when night fishing near humps, points, and shallow water near ledges.

fish finding electronics

Depths

Summer bass are generally thought to be in deeper water to cool off, which is often true; however, it usually helps look for water features and structures over depth. For example, fish will often be in shady areas undercover in a water depth of only a couple of feet deep.

Also, the type of conditions on each day will be a factor as well. For instance, on an overcast day, fish may stay active longer, moving from the deep holes if they were in one.

Cloudy and overcast days are your friend during the summertime. These are the days when the fishing is usually best this time of year since the fish will be more in ambush mode and roaming to seek prey rather than holding tight under heavy cover or in deeper water.

bass fishing brush pile

Summer Bass Fishing Lures

Big or Small Lures

The general fishing rule of thumb for choosing a lure will always be to “match the hatch” or use a bait that the local bass would naturally be eating.

When it comes to size, many anglers believe that big baits mean big bass. And that may not be a bad idea especially come mid to late summer when Brim, shad, and other baitfish are generally larger in size. But you will typically get fewer bites if you reach for that giant swimbait, jig, or spoon. For this reason, it’s worth considering the smaller bait since the hot sun in the summer already means fewer bites overall many days. In addition, some of the biggest recorded bass have been caught on small baits under two inches.

The most important things in bass fishing to remember are that bass are unpredictable. Their preference may change each day; if something isn’t working, don’t hesitate to try a smaller than average or larger than average bait.

Best Types of Lures

The best summer bass fishing lures are spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits, skirted jigs, topwater frogs, and plastic worms. 

The type of lure to use depends on where you are casting. Reaction baits such as crankbaits, topwaters, and vibrating jigs are excellent for shallower areas.

deep diving crankbait summer bass fishing
Spinnerbaits

Spinnerbaits can be effective in any condition, but they truly prove themselves in muddy or murky water because of their flash and vibration. Cast it near the edge of grass or drop-offs and use a slow, steady retrieve to bring it back. These are ideal on sunny days bumping it around structures where the bass would seek shade, such as near logs, vegetation, or branches.

early summer bass fishing glide bait
Lipless Crankbaits

Lipless crankbaits can be fished in both shallow water and deep water just with a change in retrieve speed, so these are a good idea, especially during the early summer times when schooling bass may be found at various depths. First, shoot for a crankbait that resembles the local baitfish, then brace yourself for the ultimate hook-up!

summertime bass bait fish
Skirted Jigs

Skirted jigs paired with a heavy to medium fishing rod will prepare you for big summer bass. This jig is one of the most versatile lures an angler can use during summer bass fishing. Flip your lure into heavy vegetation, work along drop-offs, cast out near structure, or drag along the bottom. Skirted jigs have more extensive profiles, which seem to be the key when targeting lethargic summer bass.

early summer texas rig fishing
Topwater Frogs

Topwater frogs are among the best lures to use if you’re fishing in an area with plenty of lily pads. Hopping a frog from leaf to leaf is very enticing to the bass hiding underneath the lily pads. The attention a popping topwater frog draws is hard for an aggressive bass to ignore.

how to catch bass in middle of hot season
Plastic Worms

The plastic worm is excellent at enticing the summer bass in the shady areas near the bottom of a water column. Soft plastic worms that are rigged either Carolina or Texas style are summer bass fishing winners. The Carolina rig is best when used in deep open water as a search lure, and the Texas rig is best when bass fishing shallow spots with vegetation or heavy cover.

Live bait

Live bait will generally produce more strikes from the lethargic summer fish. Shiners, either wild or domestic, and shad are usually the best baits to catch fish consistently. In addition, live bait will usually help attract the big bass that may not have been eager enough to move from their holding spot for a lure. Other popular forms of live bait are crawfish and worms, which both usually work and will attract fish even while it’s hot out.

Are Summer Bass Smaller

Often the bass caught during the summer seem to be smaller fish, this doesn’t mean there aren’t big bass to be caught, but smaller bass are more abundant during the summer season because they can withstand the heat better than big fish since their bodies require less oxygen to function.

Since smaller bass have a higher tolerance for warmer waters, they usually hang out higher in the water column than the big bass.

If there isn’t much vegetation or spots with the cover providing a good amount of shade, then more than likely, the big bass will be in deeper water, and fishing a drop-off or other deep areas will provide the best shot at a big bass in the summer.

Final Thoughts From The Pros

  • Bass are most active around dusk and dawn during the summer or whenever the sunlight is reduced, which puts them at an advantage over most prey. The cooler water temperatures in the early morning or late evening will spike both the prey and the bass activity.
  • Look for and target transition points within the features of the fishery. For example, look for sudden drop-offs with deeper water, heavy cover, brush piles, or current.
  • Largemouth bass will usually congregate into the shady spots to cool off as the summer temperature spikes. So you may have to head deeper if there arent any shallower shaded areas for the fish to gang up in.
  • If fishing deep water areas for big bass, be prepared to get hung up and lose a lot of tackle. This is another reason to look for shady areas or thrive on the small bass that roam closer to the surface.
  • Another pro tip is to keep the bait in the strike zone longer when summer bass fishing. When water gets hotter or colder than usual, there is less oxygen in the water, which slows down the metabolism of the local bass, which means less energy. Therefore, it’s essential to slow down your retrieve and keep the bait in the strike zone longer for a better chance at a bite.

The Ultimate Summer Fishing Adventure

Experience the best summer fishing with a professional guide to take you where the bass hang out to stay cool during the summer. Your guide will teach you all the insider tips based on years of experience, showing you how to catch fish regardless of the time of year. Even on the hot days of summer, most locations can produce if you know where to look. Spend relaxing time on the water catching numbers of bass or hunting to catch big bass that are avoiding the heat.

Challenge yourself and improve your skills in a fun way with a professionally guided private charter in a top fishing destination of your choice! 888-629-2277

freshwater fishing

Bait For Largemouth Bass

Bait For Largemouth Bass

The Best Bait For Largemouth Bass

Choosing the correct bait or bass lure and knowing how to use it will significantly increase an angler’s chances of landing their next big bass in a shorter amount of time. Based on decades of personal experience on the water from our expert fishing guides, we’ve put together the ultimate guide to success for deciding on which bait to use when bass fishing.

The Best Live bait For Largemouth Bass are:

Small to medium size baitfish like shiners, shad, or minnows, as well as worms or crawfish

The Best Artificial Bait For Bass are:

Jigs, Crankbaits, Plastic Worms, Spinnerbaits, and Swimbaits

When bass fishing, anglers want to have a small box of all the necessities to be ready for most situations. It’s a good idea to include weedless jigs, jig trailers, deep to shallow running crankbaits, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, and some topwater lures in your box.

Above is the shortened version of which baits generally are most effective and versatile enough to use throughout the year.

But when it comes to catching bass consistently, anglers need to know which to use based on current conditions and time of year, as well as the best techniques for presenting those baits, whether live or artificial.

best bass fisherman lures

Live bait

Live bait is always an effective method and requires much less presenting from the angler; this guide will explain the best live baits to use when bass fishing and how to rig them.

In general, anglers catch bass most frequently when using bait the largemouth bass would be feeding on naturally. For this reason, using baitfish and crawfish are usually the most consistent types of live bait for catching bass because these are what bass usually eat in many different places. Other popular baits are frogs and worms. Anglers can also use mice, salamanders, and various bugs or larvae for bait to pull bass, depending on where you are fishing.

The best live bait will handle most of the presentation for you by drawing attention without skepticism from your targeted fish. As a rule of thumb, use whatever is prevalent in your local waters as bait to attract a nonskeptic bass. More times than not, a bass will not eat something they have never seen before. Another bonus is live bait often attracts the most trophy bass!

Bass fishing for big largemouth bass

Best Baits

As previously mentioned, there are endless baits to use that will catch fish, but every angler should know the most consistent baits that can be used in most places year-round; these are what the fishing pros consider to be the “best baits” that bass anglers could always use as a go-to. Additionally, using live bait doesn’t require the angler to do any crazy presentations making it more beginner-friendly; an essential thing to stay on top of is whether your bait is alive or not.

Baitfish (Minnows, Shiners, Shad)

There are various ways to rig or hook your baitfish, depending on how you want it to look in the water. The most common way to hook a baitfish when presenting it to largemouth bass is to hook the bait through both lips from the bottom up, so it gives the most natural presentation with the slightest chance of damaging the bait while hooking it. Anglers can also hook the baitfish on its back below the dorsal fin. However, once your baitfish starts slowing down and not moving very much, it’s time to replace it with another one.

Shad, minnows, or shiners are some of the best live baits for bass, hands down. Baitfish come in different sizes and can be used in all types of bass waters, but they are incredibly productive in deeper water to target huge bass. They also work to catch more fish in general since they also attract giant catfish and other species.

Methods

The method you use to fish will depend on where you are, but it’s very effective to cast a shiner near lily pads and other structures, wait for a big strike, and then start reeling in. Most charters using shiners will cast out multiple rods and use bobbers to help keep track of them when they get a bite. Then, when the bobber goes down, the angler needs to set the hook and start reeling in their big catch. The bobber method is suitable because it helps keep the bait off the bottom of the lake, which helps increase the lifespan of the baitfish so you won’t have to change it out as often.

The next most popular method when fishing with baitfish is using a split shot in shallow water near dense cover. In this case, it’s essential to keep your rig tight when fishing shallow in order to keep the minnow from drifting too close to the surface and looking unnatural. Another method to use with shiners involves drift fishing with an egg sinker and barrel swivel.

best bass lure or drop shot

Crawfish

Crawfish, also referred to as crayfish and crawdads, are popular baits for largemouth bass. Many professionals swear by them, saying the presentation is always on point and no bass can resist them.

To set up your crawfish bait, you want to penetrate the tail of the crawfish with a hook of proportionate size to the crustacean.

Methods

It’s best to cast them near rocks and vegetation, or they can be drifted. Then simply drop them in the water and let them present themselves to the bass.

best bass lure on texas rig with professional anglers

Worms

Fishing with live worms or nightcrawlers is a very effective form of bass fishing, and it’s a great technique to use with newbies or kids to get them hooked on the sport. Rig the worm on the hook through the tip and try to keep as much of the hook covered while ensuring that the barb is still protruding enough to set the hook. 

Methods

You will most likely want to go near the shallow areas and fish with lighter tackle when bass fishing with nightcrawlers. In most cases, using a light or ultralight rod, a six-pound monofilament line, and a split shot with the worm on the hook will work great. Usually, worm setups can be jigged, and they can be used to catch various types of fish, including sunfish, crappie, other panfish, smallmouth bass, other bigger fish such as walleye, depending on where you are fishing.

best bass lures to catch largemouth bass

Frogs

Frogs are an excellent option when it comes to choosing a live bait for bass, and frogs usually don’t get the credit they deserve. Frogs work great, especially in dense cover or anywhere with heavy vegetation. Using frogs to catch bass is a little less beginner-friendly than the other forms of live bait bass fishing, but with a bit of experience, you will see that this is one of the best strategies for fishing densely vegetated areas. When rigging your frog, it’s best to use a wide gap hook with a split shot about a foot from the hook. Going through the forelegs with the hook is the best way to rig them, so you don’t hinder their ability to move, allowing them to swim freely and naturally.

Methods

Toss your frog near lily pads and other bass covers; the frog will usually swim to the bottom and immediately draw attention. If you aren’t getting any attention, try making a quick jerk motion with the rod tip, which should get the frog moving erratically and draw more attention from the bass lurking nearby.

best bass lures for when largemouth bass spawn

Artificial Lures

Largemouth bass are predatory animals, so the best artificial lures to use are those that mimic the prey present in the water at the time. Many artificial lures have a unique feature that helps attract bass despite not looking very similar to a real prey animal. For example, they may flash in the light.

Jigs, Crankbaits, Plastic Worms, Spinnerbaits and swimbaits, are all effective bass lures. Most of these are very versatile lures making them practical for largemouth bass fishing in most conditions throughout the year when used effectively.

Best Year-Round Lures

Jigs

Jigs are weighted bass lures that often have a skirt that pulses in the water to attract bass.

When To Use a Jig

Jigs are probably the most versatile bass lure, making them a great place to start when unsure of which lure to use based on conditions. They can be used throughout the year in almost any temperature, whether 50 degrees or 90 degrees.

How

Jigs can work in both shallow and deep waters and work in various environments, including shoreline grasses and steep underwater banks.

best bass lure for shallow water fish

Crankbaits

Crankbaits usually look like a crayfish or small fish with a lip on the front, causing them to dive underwater and wobble as retrieved. However, there are also lipless crankbaits that are just as effective. They get their action from a nose-down altitude made by placing the line on the back of the bait and its slender body, which will vibrate rapidly as the water passes over both sides.

When To Use a Crankbait

Similar to jigs, crankbaits are pretty versatile and can be used in most types of weather and in both deep water and shallow water. Many professional guides have said lipless crankbaits are extra productive during the early spring and late fall, but it’s been proven on many excellent fishing trips that these can work year-round.

How

During times of cold water, the largemouth bass like lipless crankbaits over deep points and dying grass flats. However, during warmer water times like the summer, fishing crankbaits are good to cover areas of water targeting schooling fish.

best bass lures that imitate shad fish

Worms

The plastic worm is popular among bass fishermen because it can be used in various conditions and rigged in many different ways to be fished in both shallow water and deep water. Finesse worms don’t look very exciting on the outside but don’t be fooled because worms can catch largemouth bass all day, every day in many cases. Conventional methods of rigging plastic worms are the Texas rig, Carolina rig, weightless, and drop shot.

When To Use a Plastic Worm

Plastic worms are one of the simplest and most effective year-round lures that consistently catch fish. In addition, these versatile lures can be used in almost any conditions.

How

In cold water, anglers can drag a worm on a Carolina rig or shakey head. In warmer water, anglers should twitch one weightless near the boat dock and vegetation.

Gizzard shad fish bass lures

Spinnerbaits

Spinnerbaits contain metal blades on them which rotate when pulled through the water. These rotating blades reflect the light, making them look like baitfish to bass. Spinnerbaits also have rubber skirts that flutter in the water to make them extra attractive to bass.

When To Use a Spinnerbait

These can be used in shallow and deep water in various environments. Spinnerbaits are usually most effective during the early morning and when night fishing. However, they can also be good throughout the day during the spawning season for attracting bass over spawning beds.

How

It’s best to use a medium speed when retrieving a spinnerbait. If you reel to quickly, the lure may skip out of the water, but if you’re too slow, the bass will have too much time to look at it and possibly decide to ignore it.

best bass lures for big bass fishing

Swimbaits

Many bass anglers know Swimbaits to have a relatively lifelike action. They have a natural rolling motion, and their tail shakes when retrieved. Combined, these two characteristics create vibrations in the water that largemouth bass simply can’t resist (usually).

When To Use A Swimbait

Swimbaits can mimic various baitfish common in bass waters, making them effective pretty much all year. In the winter, bass anglers often have success hopping them on an umbrella rig or underspin then letting them fall to look like a dying shad for the nearby bass. Swimbaits are most effective on either a jighead in the open water areas or on a weedless hook going through shallow grass during the summer.

How

When bass fishing with a swimbait, be sure to reel in slowly in order to imitate the swim pattern of prey fish. Reeling in slowly makes the lure look like a dying baitfish near the surface of the water. A topwater swimbait is sometimes more effective in the early morning or late evening, during the times the water is usually calmer. Big largemouth bass often think swimbaits are dying baitfish and will strike hard.

best largemouth bass lures for early summer

Other Top Lures

Craw

Crawfish are often found in the shallow weeds and deep rocks of bass fisheries. They are usually most active during most of the year except for any cold fronts.

Tips for Crawfish

Bass anglers can fish plastic craws on the back of a jig, dragged on a Carolina rig, flipped into cover, and fished on a shakey head. Crawfish are one of the most important forage species for largemouth bass, so anytime you suspect some are around, it’s a good idea to give a craw lure a shot.

Jerkbaits

These lures sit on top of the water, and by jerking the rod, bass anglers can give them a lifelike action making it extremely hard to resist to the largemouth bass.

Tips For Jerkbaits

Jerkbaits tend to work best in cold water, clear water, or for active bass feeding on baitfish. Jerkbaits are often most effective during the cooler months, but that doesn’t mean bass anglers shouldn’t give these a shot during the summer months. They have proven effective during warm months too when appropriately fished, meaning not too fast.

best soft plastics for bass fishing

Topwater

One of the most exhilarating moments in bass fishing is getting a hard strike off topwater lures. The adrenaline rush of a largemouth bass coming up from underneath to attack your lure on top of the water is like no other, and more times than not, this strike is from a giant bass rather than a peewee. The strikes on a topwater lure are often extra aggressive because the predatorial largemouth bass is doing more than just grabbing its next meal; it’s trying to kill the frog, baitfish, or rodent that is struggling on top of the water. Topwater bass lures come in all shapes and sizes that bug, pop, and burble across the water, from small bug imitations to giant cigar-shaped baitfish that anglers can “walk the dog” or zig-zag across the surface.

Tips for Topwaters

Topwaters can be fun to use in many different conditions, but some of the best times to use them are when the largemouth bass seem to be dug deep into the vegetation or roaming the flats in the shallow water of about two feet deep. Another good time to use them is to entice a bite from a spawning bass. A few of the most effective topwaters to attract big bass are the Hula Popper, the Arbogast Jitterbug, the Heddon Zara Spook, the Lunker Lure Buzzbait, and the Snag Proof Frog. Frogs seem to be the most effective fish lures when casting around lily pads and mats. Make sure you let the largemouth bass eat the lure for a second or two before you set the hook!

green pumpkin lure

Assessing Conditions To Catch Bass

Bass fishing can be done in various ways, and in order to have the most success, bass anglers must assess the current conditions in order to choose the best bass lures and techniques throughout the day.

Understanding their lifecycle, habits, and the ideal bass habitat will also be beneficial for anyone largemouth bass fishing. For example, understanding that largemouth bass are usually found roaming closer to the shore during the spawning season, summer mornings, and winter afternoons. During these times, anglers can usually catch bass near different types of vegetation or deep structure like fallen trees and boat docks. During other times, largemouth bass tend to be in deeper water, especially the big largemouth bass.

Water Temperatures

During times when the water temperatures are cooler, largemouth bass tend to be more lethargic, and anglers should use a slower retrieve to catch them. Conversely, when the water temperature warms up, largemouth bass become more active and are more likely to bite a lure or bait moving more quickly.

General Tips For Any Conditions

In general, largemouth bass favor the areas that offer any form of cover where they can easily ambush their prey. So when bass fishing, anglers generally have the best luck when casting near or into cover, meaning the best types of bait or bass lures to use are ones that can easily be fished in cover.

The good news is there isn’t a single correct way to catch bass, and the fact that they are ambush predators makes it so that they will often strike at the bait or bass lures even if they aren’t actively feeding. Therefore, when bass fishing, the best thing to do is to analyze your local area, the environmental and water conditions around you, then adjust your tactics accordingly to entice a strike.

Steady retrieve bass fishing

Spawning Season

The spawning season for bass is one of the most exciting times for bass fishing; this is when the Bassonline guides love seeing clients catch their new personal best or a newbie catch a seven-pounder as their very first fish that leaves them hooked for life.

Our top guides have created a list of their most effective baits and how to present them to the bass hanging out in or around their spawning beds for their client to land a giant spawning bass.

Baits For Spawning Bass

In general, when largemouth bass spawn, they aren’t usually actively eating, but they do turn into extra aggressive fish in order to protect their eggs, so the goal when targeting bass laying up in their spawning beds is to entice a reaction strike.

Some of the best bass baits to entice a strike from a spawning fish are the Strike King 4 inch Game Hawg, the Berkley Powerbait Maxscent, The General Worm, Bagley Bang O Lure Spinetail, the Dirty Jig No Slack Swim Jig, and the Googan Baits Bandito Bug.

Tips For Spawning Fish

Many topwater baits can effectively land a spawning largemouth bass, but the Berkley Bang O Lure Spinetail has proven to be one of the best ways to get a bite from the giant females that are usually hanging off the beds out of sight. A tip from the pros when using this bass lure is to cast it in an area where the beds are present, then let it sit until all ripples have settled, then start to retrieve it with tiny downward twitches of your rod, mixing it up between one and three at a time. This motion will cause the lure to dive 3 to 8 inches deep and create a lot of commotion in the water.

The methods will be similar for almost any lure you choose to use when targeting a spawning bass. Many times, texas rigged is the preferred method regardless of other techniques used when presenting the bait. Regardless of the lure you are using, if you are going after the largemouth bass sitting in the bed, then you want to get the bait right in the bed and either shake it in place or snap it up in the bass’s face when they look at it to entice a reaction strike. If you are going after the females outside of the bed, then it’s best to use the method explained above by casting near the bed rather than in it and wait before retrieving.

There are endless routes to take when going after a spawning fish, but there will always be times when they just aren’t going to eat. Good anglers can usually learn to read the mood of the fish they are after, and one common occurrence is if the largemouth bass stays close to its bed, then usually you will be able to catch it. But if the bass stays away for a while or swims in big circles, then it may be best to move to another fish after a few tries.

Best lure category to catch bass

Final Tips From The Pros

In general, you want to spend your time fishing your bait or bass lure around any potential largemouth bass hideouts. It’s good practice to vary your retrieve, this way you can adjust to any conditions. Some days bass may prefer a faster retrieve, while other days, it may take a slower action to trigger a strike. Jigs, Crankbaits, Plastic Worms, Spinnerbaits, and swimbaits are excellent bass lures that will work in many conditions throughout the year when casted near bass cover and presented properly.

If fishing with live bait, nightcrawlers are generally the simplest method and almost always produce a bite of some kind. This is an excellent method, especially for beginners and kids. Otherwise, baitfish such as shiners or minnows are usually the best live bait method because they have a high chance at producing a quality-sized largemouth bass and are relatively simple to get and use. Frogs are adequate but a little more challenging to set up and use.

Learn And Practice With The Experts

The best way to improve skills in any subject is with hands-on practice with someone whose been doing it for years. Fish with a pro on one of our fishing charters at a destination of your choice so they can teach you some insider tips and tricks to take home with you and apply to your next fishing adventures. Whether you’re a first-timer who wants a general overview of the essential things to know when learning to catch bass or if you’re a seasoned angler looking to improve on techniques and presentations, a fishing charter will help get you where you want to go. The best part about the Bassonline booking process is that we will pair you with a guide specializing in what you want to learn!

Call 888-629-2277 to set up your private fishing charter with a professional guide and take your bass fishing skills to the next level!

Lures for spawning bed fish and shallow cover

Polk County Freshwater Fishing Report

Polk County Freshwater Fishing Report

Polk County Freshwater Fishing

 Around Lakeland, bass up to 25 inches this week at Tenoroc, about 8-9 pounds, in lakes 4, Fish Hook and Tern on Junebug worms and spinnerbaits, reports Brian Fleming. Several limits of bluegill and shellcracker in lakes 2, C and Hydrilla at Tenoroc on crickets and red worms. Anglers wading along cattails at Lake Parker catching 10-15 hand-sized bluegill, reports Stacy Roberts at Phillips Bait and Tackle at Saddle Creek Park. Bluegill bite slowed down at Saddle Creek. Speckled catfish biting after rains at Saddle Creek. And lakes 4, B, and Legs producing catfish at Tenoroc.

BLUEGILL

Limits of bluegill and shellcracker were commonplace over the weekend. Crickets and red worms were hot sellers. “I’m about out of crickets. They’re catching limits of bluegill just about everywhere,” said Ron Schelfo at Ron’s Tackle Box. “Pick your favorite lake.”

TRENTON BENNETT of Fort Meade, 4, reeled in this 12-pound, 4-ounce bass fishing with his grandfather, Joe Bennett, on Lake Kissimmee on July 12. Joe, from Camp Lester, hooked up with a topwater plug and handed the rod to Trenton. “Joe said he had to hold the back of his life jacket to keep him from going out of the boat,” said Joanne Cosce at Camp Lester. PRO BASS FISHERMEN and top local anglers are switching to fluorocarbon lines for casting soft plastics – worms, Flukes, and Senkos. Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon is a popular choice in 10-, 12-, 15- and 20-pound strengths, said Brent Howlett at Stone’s Outhouse. Fluorocarbon sinks, unlike monofilament.

Central Florida Hot Lakes

At Auburndale, super week for bluegill and shellcracker just about everywhere reports Ron Schelfo at Ron’s Tackle Box in Lake Alfred. Shellcracker bite continues on Lake Rochelle, where bank anglers using half-ounce egg sinkers to cast red worms over the ledge in spots where there’s no shoreline grass near the boat ramp. “There’s been hundreds of people going down there. It’s been great,” Schelfo said. Also, limits of shellcracker on red worms and grass shrimp in lily pads at Lake Mariana, reports Stacy Roberts. Easy limits of bluegill at lakes Haines, Alfred, and Ariana, said Schelfo. Bass was very tough this week, but Telly Smith boated 7 1/2-pounder to win Ron’s evening tournament on Lake Alfred last Thursday with teammate Alex Holmes.

In Winter Haven, bluegill creating some excitement on small city lakes and south chain, with lots of limits on crickets. Lily pads in south end of Lake Eloise one hot spot. Bass action tapered off with high heat and break in thundershowers.

Lake Hamilton, bluegill, and shellcracker “absolutely great” over the weekend with red worms and crickets, reports Gary Parramore at Chain O’ Lakes Bait and Tackle in Dundee. But only small boats can launch at public ramps. Bass up to 4-6 pounds perked up on medium-large wild shiners (6-7 inches long) on area lakes.

As well, as Lake Marion near Haines City, limits of bedding shellcracker and bluegill drew a crowd over the weekend with full moon on Friday, reports Ray Chase at Bannon’s Camp. He said 21 boats launched Saturday. Shellcracker moving back to deep shell bars between new and full moons. Lily pads “thick” with panfish, which are hitting grass shrimp, red worms, and crickets.

Lake Pierce, daily limits of bluegill and shellcracker in lily pads on red worms and crickets at North Cove and around islands near the fish camp, reports Jennings Camp. Bass decent, especially when it rains every day.

Even Lake Hatchineha, a couple of shellcracker beds located over the weekend with a full moon, and anglers pulled in limits on red worms.

Old Reliables

Big Lake Toho, giving up big stringers in tournaments on Saturday, but Sunday as bad as Saturday was good. Took about 24 pounds to win the Xtreme Series tournament. Fishermen casting topwater lures (chrome/black Boy Howdy or Devil’s Horse) around crisp hydrilla patches until the sun comes up, said Brent Howlett at Stone’s Outhouse. Water level up 8-10 inches in the past week, and anglers struggling for bites this week.

Always Lake Kissimmee, bluegill carried the weekend, although bass made good showing Saturday. There were two or three stringers over 20 pounds in tournaments on Saturday, but on Sunday, bass took a “nosedive,” said Leo Cosce at Camp Lester. Took just 13 pounds to win on Sunday. Cosce said there’s a lot of bass being caught on crankbaits and Rat-L-Traps. Trenton Bennett of Fort Meade, who’s 4, landed a 12-pound, 4-ounce bass fishing with his grandfather, Joe Bennett of Camp Lester, on July 13. Joe got the bite on a surface lure and handed the rod to Trenton. “That’s kid’s going to be hooked for life now. It’s great when you see that happen,” said Cosce. Limits of bluegill mixed with shellcracker around full moon in lily pads at Gobbler Ridge, Philadelphia Point, Lemon Point, and Brahma Island. But panfish bite tapered off since Sunday with half-limits at best, Cosce said. Early risers catching 20-25 specks in North Cove with jigs (chartreuse/white, white/white) along hydrilla edges. Water level up 4 inches in the past week, but off-colored.

Unforgotten Lake Walk-in-the-Water, the lake is usually overlooked for bluegill, but panfish have been active in lily pads. Bass is not worth the trip.

Crooked Lake at Babson Park, extra-large speckled perch cranked up last week and still going at night on minnows in open water, reports Cindy Ritchison at Bob’s Landing. “Some of my anglers said they were catching ‘hellaciously’ big specks they said had to be a pound and a half or 2 pounds, easy,” Ritchison said. Mark Collier and his crew bringing in 20-25 per trip, as is Gary Earnst of Plant City. Bass up to 2-3 pounds more common.

Frostproof, panfish anglers loading up on bluegill at Lake Reedy, reports Ron Schelfo. Lake Arbuckle is also good for bluegill in lily pads.

In the phosphate pits south of Mulberry and Bartow, things are about as quiet as they get with dog days setting in.

From Staff and Wire Reports
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