Sunday, August 1, 2021

Bass: Your Backyard Species
By James Hamilton

What is there to say about the Bass that has not already been written, recorded, or recounted around a campfire? It is unlikely that there is another species of fish that has offered the same amount of joy, recreation, and sport to anglers around the world. In North America, largemouth & smallmouth Bass are the most popular gamefish with anglers, and for good reason.

Perhaps there is nothing more American than Bass fishing. And we don’t just mean the US, both Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass widespread throughout Canada and Mexico. Their resiliency in warm and cold water habitats is perfectly adapted for the varied climate and geography found throughout the continent.

For anglers, they are a favorite if sometimes overlooked or forgotten fish. Many of us fly anglers got our start in farm or town ponds where the thrill of watching a Bass smash a popper inflicted a lifelong addiction. As the pandemic continues to keep many anglers wading in place, we’ve seen a reemergence for the love and appreciation of our local Bass fisheries.

Bigger flies do not invariably lead to bigger fish. Sizable Largemouth Bass can be tricked with flies such as this small black leech pattern or Woolly Buggers.

The downhome satisfaction of lipping a Bass on local waters is a sensation shared by anglers all over the world. This feeling has inspired generations of fly anglers to travel the world in pursuit of moments like this.

Lily Pads (Nymphaeaceae) are a great feature to look for when targeting Largemouth Bass on topwater. The plants provide protection from birds and plentiful ambush opportunities for hungry Bass.

The markings on a Smallmouth Bass can be breathtaking. While Smallmouth Bass are not quite as widely distributed as their cousins, the Largemouth Bass, they are extremely popular with anglers and provide great sport in a variety of environments.

Bassthumb: The sign of a success full day on the water

The beauty of Bass fishing is that anglers can employ a number of different tactics, presentations, and flies to attract these fish. In this game, poppers, dry flies, streamers, and even nymphs are all in play.

Don’t be afraid to mix things up. Bass fishing presents an opportunity for fly tiers to get creative and experiment with alternative patterns and hooks. (photo credits: fly skinz, and looper flies)

Sometimes, you’ve just got to take a moment to admire and appreciate these special fish.

Raft, drift boat, jon boat, bass boat, float tube, kayak, canoe, paddleboard, you name it. Anglers around the world access these fish in a multitude of ways, including by foot.

Heck, why not every time? 

Just make sure that you return the favor by handling these fish appropriately and keeping them wet.

Once you’ve soaked it all in, and appreciated your catch in all of its glory, it’s time to let them go to swim another day.

The next angler will appreciate it.

Perhaps one of the Bass’s most alluring qualities is the diversity of fishing methods that can be employed to catch one. Whether you like to swing weighted flies through deep cutbanks, sightfish in freshwater lakes, or throw a wooly bugger off your grandparent’s dock, Bass are the baseline for fishing locally. We should all give a nod to small and largemouth Bass for having our backs while travel is curtailed.

And this is not a phenomenon strictly reserved for those in North America. For most anglers around the world, one form of Bass or another can be found and targeted in their home waters. So whether it’s Largemouth or Smallmouth, Spotted, White, Striped, European, Rock, Rainbow, or Peacock — we strongly encourage you to get out there and reconnect with your local fish.

Photos & Anglers

Gil Greenberg

Dan Zazworsky

Cam Chioffi