When I’m not busy making fishing lures, I enjoy spending my time bass fishing. While I enjoy all the time I spend on the water bass fishing, I relish the time I spend pursuing “big bass”. I MEAN LUNKERS… TOADS… HAWGS! The way I look at it, fishing for big bass is more like “hunting” than fishing, and I have learned that big bass must be treated completely different than their smaller neighbors.
What size bass is considered big? To me, a “big bass” starts at around seven pounds. Consistently catching bass over seven pounds requires making changes in fishing locations, tactics, lure selection, tenacity and patience. The most difficult part of the process is mentally accepting the fact that you are going to get fewer strikes. You have to be diligent and stick to your strategy. You will be making lots of casts, while only soliciting a few strikes. You must be mentally prepared and ready to set the hook when that strike does come. In the end, your efforts could yield that trophy bass you’ve been seeking.
BIG BAITS = BIG BASS!
Bass are notoriously aggressive feeders and as a bass grows so does its appetite. I have many bass with the tails of baitfish barely smaller than the bass hanging out of their mouths and they still had the instinct to strike my lure. Remember, while throwing big baits for large bass, you will occasionally catch that 2-4 pounder with a healthy appetite!
Large topwater baits are not only my favorite way to solicit big bass to strike, it is definitely the most exciting. Hollow body frogs, snake lures, poppers and buzzbaits are my favorite topwater baits. The bigger the lure the better. Depending upon when and when you are fishing you might choose a quiet or a noisy presentation, and this selection of lures allows you the option for both types.
Key on areas with shallow grass cover or steep, undercut banks with overhanging shade trees. A very slow presentation is crucial. Slow presentations with big popping type baits along grass lines or on grass mats have also produced well. Most people put topwater baits away after the sun comes up. One thing I have noticed is that fish are less pressured in the shallow areas during the mid-day hours and most likely do not see many topwater baits.
Giant-sized crankbaits can be great producers. There are many great ways to fish a crankbait, but a slow steady retrieve along steep grass lines, deeper grass flats or on steep ledges to be the most productive. My first experience with how bass bang big crankbaits happened about 20 years ago. I was fishing a local reservoir for hybrid stripers using a 4 inch, deep diving crankbait and after 20-30 casts I received my first bite. I hooked the fish and was surprised to pull up a 3 pound bass! That day I worked the deep ledges I could reach from my position on the bank and ended up catching 4 bass between 2 and 4 pounds. I didn’t catch any hybrids, but I was happy! That day I was sold on big crankbaits for big bass.
The jig ‘n pig has always been a standard bait for big bass. Here, in the South, the jig ‘n pig is very effective pitched into thick grass. While I use a “big” bait I try to stick with a 3/8oz jig with a rubber trailer and allow it to fall slowly between clumps of thick grass or near fallen timber. It is important to allow the bait to fall vertically through the cover and I do not leave it on the bottom for long. I let the bait hit the bottom, twitch it a couple of times and reel it in for another try.
Fishing grass clumps can be very productive, and I prefer a 10 -12 inch worm Texas rigged with no less than a 1/2oz bullet weight and a 5/0 hook or a giant snake lure(10-14 inches) rigged with no weight and a 5/0 hook or larger. The Texas rigged worm falls fast and this action often triggers a reaction strike from big bass. The giant snake lure is fish on the surface, or just below. Toss is out in to the grass and give it a quick “walk the dog” action past as many clumps as possible. You can work the snake fast, periodically letting it sink occasionally by one of the larger clumps. These techniques could also be applied to other types of vegetation, and has been very effective in the lily pads.
Hunting for big bass is always exciting. Each time you cast your bait you have the chance of landing that lunker of a lifetime.