It’s a lot like big game hunting – you wouldn’t go big cat hunting in Africa without having some idea of what to expect from your intended target – the best time to approach, the best places to find him, the best equipment to hunt him with, and so on. While bass fish won’t eat you in return for a failed attempt to catch them, it still helps to understand how your prey behaves to help you better prepare for your activities.
Some Reasons Why Bass Strike
There are a number of behaviors that cause bass to bite, including:
- Reflex Action: Just like humans can, bass can be startled into a reflex action; for our needs we want to cause that reflex to be a bite.
- Anger: They can have a temper, and can be agitated enough to cause them to bite at your bait – but only if they don’t move away first.
- Protective/ Territorial Instinct: Female Bass will strike to defend their nest, which is a very limited portion of their life, and typically not the primary driver we want to exploit.
- Curiosity: Sometimes curiosity gets the better of any of us; humans, cats, and fish alike. Knowing what will catch its curiosity is often more guesswork than science, however. Good luck trying though.
- Competition: Food may not always be in large supply, and a large bass population may fight over what food there is, often causing them to bite with less caution. It can be easier getting a bite under these circumstances, but since we don’t control either the fish population or the food source, there is no guarantee.
- Feeding: As with most predatory species, you can take for granted that bass will strike when they are hungry and when they need to feed, and that makes this the best and most predictable behavior to leverage in your bass fishing efforts.
There are a number of environmental factors that affect the behavior of bass, including:
- Weather Conditions.
- Water Temperature.
In both cases, weather and temperature, these factors are typically season driven, so you will approach bass fishing differently in Spring than you do in Summer or Fall.
Bass typically prefer water over 68F, anything below that slows down their metabolism causing the fish to be a lot less active. Between 68F and 78F you will often find Bass moving into shallow waters hunting for food and on the prowl.
During the Spring months, the water gets warm enough to tempt the bass into the shallows looking for food. Anglers often anchor boats further out into the water and fish back into the grasses in the shallows during Spring.
During Summer, the reverse approach works best – anchoring your boat shallow and fishing out into the deeper water. You can often find bass deep against underwater structures where the water is deeper and cooler.
In autumn, the water begins to cool again and we see the bass returning to the shallow waters to feed and prepare for the long winter ahead. This is a great time to catch bass as they feed more voraciously.
Understanding your prey is often the key to success in any hunting situation – be it big game, deer and elk, or fishing for bass. Understanding bass behavior helps you to fish with confidence, and prepare appropriately for the conditions you expect while you are out there.