Bass Fishing Myth-Busters
November 29, 2017
A freshwater bass-fishing expert examines some common assumptions and falsehoods that often creep into the angler’s playbook.
By Matt Razey, Freak Finder Fishing
Whenever I host a bass-fishing seminar, I always get some interesting questions from the audience. Frequently, these questions turn out to reveal misconceptions, assumptions or just plain wrong information passed along by other anglers and even well-meaning outdoor writers. The following are some common bass-fishing “myths” that, through personal experience, I have found to be untrue.
You can only catch cold-water bass by slowing down.
A lot of people think that cold-water bass can only be caught be crawling something along the bottom or using a slow-moving bait, such as a jerkbait or a drop-shot. However, I have caught more cold-water fish on fast-moving, flashy baits than I have on any drop-shot or slow presentation. Yes, cold-water (I’m talking water between 40 and 50 degrees) bass are sluggish and will not feed all day, as they do in the summer when their metabolism is at its peak, but they will still hit a reaction bait.
Don’t get me wrong: I often use suspending jerkbaits or a drop-shots when the water is cold; however, I also have other rods rigged with blade baits, crankbaits or spinnerbaits.
Never target “retread” fish.
For some reason, many anglers avoid fishing “release areas”—places where fish are released after a tournament weigh-in, usually near a launch ramp. However, release areas often hold plenty of quality fish, for obvious reasons.
The fish may be harder to catch, but chances are you can get a few to bite by making careful presentations. And the ones you do fool will likely be big!
You need wind to catch smallmouths.
Does wind improve smallmouth fishing? Absolutely! However, that doesn’t mean you should stay home on calm, high-pressure, bluebird days. Wind often makes smallmouths less selective, so calm days require closer attention to detail in terms of lure color, size and retrieve.
When you have sun and no wind, the smallmouths will stay close to the bottom or tight to structure. This is a great time to throw a Carolina rig, jig or tube. When you bump something, stop your bait, as a smallmouth will usually swim over to investigate it.
Black and blue lures only work in cold water.
Much like the wind scenario described above, there is a common misconception that black and blue lures should only be used in cold water. While this pattern does indeed mimic crayfish that boast a similar color scheme early in the season, I have caught plenty of fish in summer and early fall on black jigs, black-and-blue rubber worms, and black-and-blue crayfish imitations.
I think a big reason why this color scheme remains productive throughout the year is because it’s different from what everyone else is throwing. Many anglers transition to watermelon, green pumpkin, or subtle variations of these two colors during the summer. If you aren’t getting bit on these colors, try black and blue. Sometimes going against the grain will help put more fish in the boat, especially on lakes that see a lot of fishing pressure.
Adding the right artificial scent to your lure makes a big difference.
Many fishermen and soft-plastic bait companies make a big fuss over scent. You can now buy coffee scent, shad scent, crayfish scent, eel scent, etc. However, I don’t think you need to get that specific.
In my opinion, the main benefit of adding artificial scent to your lure is to mask human scent, so it doesn’t really matter which scent you use. More important is to wash off any bug repellant, sunscreen or other lotion before handling a lure.
I do feel that scent can make a difference in cold water, mainly because the bait is staying in the strike zone for extended periods of time and the fish are taking an extra-long look at it. In this case, scent might make the difference in convincing a cautious fish to bite.
Topwater baits only work in the morning and at dusk.
This is one the more common myths. I see many people put topwaters away after the morning bite has subsided. I also see people only throw topwaters in summer. I’ve caught bass on a Zara Spook in the late fall when there was ice in my guides, and I’ve caught plenty of bass on topwaters in the middle of the day. Topwaters work any time the fish are actively feeding, and when the conditions are right for fishing a topwater, I won’t hesitate to throw one.
You need to match the hatch.
“Match the hatch” is a term that is used quite a bit in the fishing industry. I’m sure at certain times of year and on certain lakes it is truly important to match your lure precisely to the available forage. However, I have lost count of how many fish I have caught on big, bright, chartreuse spinnerbaits that fail to imitate anything the bass could be feeding on. There is something about chartreuse, especially for smallmouths, that elicits strikes, and I don’t know of anything in nature, at least in the Northeast, that is chartreuse.
Sometimes the least natural looking thing you can throw will generate a bite. Don’t be afraid to mix and match colors. Your white swim jig doesn’t always need a white trailer; try chartreuse. Your green pumpkin football jig looks good with a black-and-blue crawfish on it as well. Trust me, it works.
Don’t go to old school.
People often feel that traditional lures and techniques no longer work, because the bass have become wise to them. Not so. I always keep a few “old school” staples on my boat. For example, I love swimming a grub in cold water, I still throw an Uncle Josh pork rind on my jig at certain times of the year, a spinnerbait still puts fish in the boat, and when the bite is tough, an in-line spinner is hard to beat. Tried-and-true lures and techniques are tried-and-true for a reason.
You need big baits to catch big fish.
A lot of fishermen think that you have to throw a big bait to catch big fish. For example, there is a current trend that involves throwing big trout or rat-style swimbaits for trophy bass. While it’s true that these oversized lures often work, I have caught plenty of 4- and 5-pound bass on 1/8 oz. hair jigs, tubes, 4” worms, and small drop-shot baits. Elephants do eat peanuts, after all.
ABOUT FREAK FINDER FISHING
Freak Finder Fishing is the brainchild of avid anglers Matt Razey and Marc Shea. The pair first started filming videos to share their love of bass fishing and the outdoors with their families and friends, but soon realized that sharing this information through the web and on social media was a great way to disperse knowledge and make connections within the fishing industry. To learn more, visit the Freak Finder website, or follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.