How To Catch Bass From A Boat
Fishing for bass from a boat is pretty much a BassHole’s dream!
Presently I’m boatless (I’ll add a post about bass fishing in the water without a boat soon!), but I’m lucky enough to have a fishing buddy who DOES have a boat, who invites me to join him on frequent fishing trips.
The best part about bass fishing from a boat, of course, is that you can cover virtually every inch of the water in a lake, river, or stream (with some exceptions due to rocks, thick brush, etc.).
Go Where The Bass Are
A bass boat allows you to seek out where the bass are, and fish for them there.
One way to locate bass is to simply cast lures that cover different levels of the water, such as:
- Top water baits
- Near top water baits (just under the surface)
- Baits that cover the first few feet below the surface
- Baits that dive to 5 to 20 feet
- Baits that go all the way to the bottom
I’ll cover these different baits at length in future posts, but meanwhile here are two types of baits I’ve already briefly discussed.
With a jig (and also a spinner bait), you can literally cover the entire water column, from the top to bottom, depending on how you retrieve them. Use a faster retrieve to keep them on top, and slow down to let them sink, all the way to the bottom!
- Lipless crankbait
Lipless crankbaits will also cover a lot of the water column, but generally are in the 2 foot to 10 foot range. Try various retrieves to attract bites: slow wiggle, faster wobble, stop-and-go (let it sink), yank it and then let it go slack. When you catch a fish, you’ve found a good retrieve!
Find Those Bass! — Use Your Fishfinder!
Most bass boats will come with a fishfinder.
There are numerous fishfinder manufacturers with a wide variety of models on the market, including:
But not every BassHole out there can even use this very important tool to locate and target those BIG bass!
A fishfinder not only locates fish, but tells you structures underwater that you can then fish appropriately. It there are underwater streams, structure such as rocks or submerged trees, holes, rock piles, etc., these are all great places to look for bass waiting to ambush bait fish.
Your fishfinder will also locate those baitfish. And where there are baitfish, and hungry bass be far behind?
I definitely recommend you learn to use your fishfinder. BassPro fisherman have been known to target a single, individual bass they locate using their fishfinder! So be sure and understand how to use that piece of equipment, and increase your success!
Vary Your Techniques
As mentioned above, you can slow down, speed up, and vary your retrieve to see what the bass react to.
Both my fishing buddy and I used to prefer worms for bass fishing (regular readers know that now I’ve branched out and LOVE the Redeye Shad!). But when we first started fishing, we made sure to try 2 different colors and types (e.g., I’d throw a Senko, and he’d throw a salamander).
Even better is to try to completely different baits. So next time we go out, I’ll start with my Redeye Shad. He likes to beat the banks, but I can fish the Redeye Shad there as well. In addition to adding variety to our offerings, it’s very possible another fish in the same area where he just caught one will go after a different bait. And sometimes the bigger one!
You really need a trolling motor to effectively fish from a boat.
These are typically mounted on the front, and have a foot pedal to operate them. They allow you to move much more slowly than the main engine, and also more quietly. Stealth is important in bass fishing, especially when you are fishing near the shore or in shallow water.
The U.S. Coast Guard Minimum Requirements for Recreational Boats differs according to the size of the boat. (Click here for a chart.)
One constant is some type of approved PFD (Personal Floating Device), commonly referred to as a life vest or life jacket.
The requirement for wearing of these devices also changes depending on the size of the boat (refer to chart for details), but of course they don’t do you much good if you don’t wear them!
I’ve fallen into the water twice; once with my life jacket on, the other without. And let me tell you, having it on really makes a huge difference! It will pop you right up to the top of the water.
So if you are in rough water, choppy, windy; or if you are traveling at high speeds to get to the next fishing spot; I really recommend wearing your life vest!
There are some very nice inflatable ones that you can wear without much bulk. These types MUST always be worn while in the boat to comply with U.S. Coast Guard requirements.
Other safety equipment includes:
- Bell, whistle, and/or horn
- Visual distress signals
- Fire extinguisher
So, if you can get onboard a boat, or are a lucky BassHole who already owns a boat, grab your rods, reels, tackle boxes, drinks, and snacks, and prepare for a great day of fishing!
And if you don’t catch any bass, at least you’re having fun trying!
Roger, The Smiling BassHole