By Steve Graf
I have been bass fishing since I was 10 years old. I basically taught myself how to fish while growing up on our ranch in East Texas. I watched fishing shows on TV like “John Fox Outdoors,” “Fishing with Virgil Ward” and my favorite show of all time, “The Bassmasters.” I also learned a lot through a subscription to Bassmaster Magazine that I received on my 10th birthday. This just might have been the best birthday gift I ever received. The magazine had great detailed descriptions and drawings on techniques and information that could make anyone a better angler.
I started my bass tournament career in 1990 with a buddy of mine who introduced me to team tournaments. Now I had no idea how “hooked” I would be to competitive bass fishing. It’s literally an addiction that requires many hours of practice and preparation in order to compete at a high level. It’s similar to gambling in that you’re putting money up to enter the event, and betting on yourself. But as one of my former coaches once told me, “Success is a learning process that comes from failure. How you handle failure will determine how successful you’ll be.”
Now back to the question at hand…Why has bass fishing gotten so hard? This can probably be summed up with two words…. overcrowded waterways. Gone are the days of catching a hundred bass a day. There was a time that an angler could go out on his favorite lake and catch bass on a regular basis. But as bass fishing has evolved and become so popular, our waterways have become congested. This has led to bass becoming over “educated” to the many ways anglers are trying to catch them. It’s been proven through research that bass have the ability to learn despite their tiny brain. But the good news is that they have a short memory and don’t retain much over time. The more they see a bait or get caught, the more they learn what lures not to bite, which can even be passed on to their offspring. All our lakes and rivers are over-crowded now with a combination of high school fishing, College Series, Pro-Am circuits and team trails like American Bass, Bass Champs, Texas Team Trail, and the Bob Sealy Big Bass Splash Series. Each of these tournament trails caters to a wide array of anglers all across America.
What I’ve learned over the last few years is that today’s angler must think outside the box of old conventional ways of catching fish. You can’t be afraid to experiment with new baits and techniques. Don’t get me wrong, you can still catch fish on spinnerbaits, jigs and crankbaits, but you may have to tweak a bait and show the bass something a little different than they’ve seen before. But one bait that continues to pass the test of time is the plastic worm. I don’t care what body of water you like to fish; they will bite a plastic worm anywhere in the country. A lot of anglers like to dip the tail of their worms in what’s called a chartreuse (bright green) dye. But there are many colors of dipping dyes on the market, so try a different color like maybe orange, blue or red. I’ve even used a black dye and had great results. Again, it’s just something different that the fish are not seeing as much.
Bass fishing has gotten more difficult, but if you’re willing to think outside the box, you can still catch fish. As humans, our biggest fault is that we are creatures of habit. But if you’re willing to change things up a little, you just might figure out the secret code to catching bass. If you want to learn what the bass are biting, tune into Tackle Talk Live every Tuesday at 11:30 on Facebook live, podcast or our YouTube Channel. Till next time, good luck, good fishing and don’t forget to set the hook!