Know the bass-fishing basics
Published 5:42 pm Wednesday, April 25, 2001
Every year thousands of first time bass fishermen and fisherwomen take to the waters in pursuit of our most popular game fish, the largemouth bass. They range in age from recent kindergarten graduates to senior citizens taking up bass fishing for the first time.
Many taking up the sport for the first time are intimidated by the thoughts of needing a $20,000 bass boat and a few thousand dollars worth of rods, reels, and other equipment just to go fishing. But the truth is a short visit to the sporting goods or discount mart and you can be fishing that afternoon with only a minimum of cash outlay.
One of the foremost things to remember is that bass, like other predators, are opportunist. They will hit anything that looks like food to them if they are hungry. Bass are also one of the most widely distributed fish in the country, thriving in farm ponds, large and small rivers, and large impoundments. Everyone in Alabama is within minutes of excellent bass fishing.
Experienced fishermen are one of the best sources of information and advice on getting started. Although opinions will vary, most will recommend starting out simple with only the basic tackle. This will probably be a spinning or spin-cast reel spooled with 10 to 14 lb. test line. Bait casting reels are fine for older children and patient adults, but can be more frustrating to use in the beginning. Select a medium to medium-heavy graphite rod 51/2 to 6 foot long with a grip that fits the users hand.
After you have selected a rod and reel for yourself or the youngster you are helping, it's time to practice casting before heading to the water. While it's true it takes a while to become a proficient caster, it is remarkable how much progress can be make in a few afternoons of backyard casting practice. Begin by learning to "load the rod". This is accomplished by bringing the rod back in a snappy motion to approximately the 12:00 o'clock position and then forward to the 9:00 position. The line should be released at the 11:00 position. Practice casting while standing and from a lawn chair.
The beginning bass fisherman does not need a suitcase size tackle box full of lures. A modest selection of soft baits in a variety of colors is a good start. Worms, crayfish and lizards with a hook imbedded to make it weedless (Texas rigged) are ideal for beginners. Next add a few spinner baits in mixed colors and a top water plug or two. Curly tailed grubs attracted to a lead jig are also good inexpensive baits.
Bank fishing can be productive, but more bass are caught from a boat. I have probably landed more bass while fishing from a beat up aluminum Jon boat than I have from a real bass boat. In the beginning, keep it simple; it's more fun this way.