Most articles you’ll find on the internet (and magazines if you’re still reading print!) focus on bass fishing from fancy fiberglass bass boats, using state-of-the-art electronics and high-powered engines that allow you to fly from one end of the lake to the other in a matter of minutes.
What if we told you that you didn’t need any of those things to catch a trophy bass? What if we told you, some of the best bass fishing can be found right off the bank in your neighborhoods?
Read below for 13 tips and tricks to master the art of bass fishing from the bank.
#1: Use Map Software
Mapping software has come a really long way in the last decade or so. High tech satellite imagery and maps can be found on a variety of websites including Google Maps, Bing, and even on our phones.
Use this technology to your advantage and scope out potentially overlooked bass fishing honey holes. Subdivisions, causeways, lakes, and even golf courses are loaded with small lakes and ponds that are stocked with bass, sometimes even trophies -- we’re not taking responsibility though if you get kicked out of the country club because you brought your rods in your golf bag!
Take some notes on which ones you think look potentially “bassy” and scope them out.
#2: Pack Light
When you’re bank fishing, you’re going to need to be mobile. This is why we advise that you try to pack light. A nice backpack or tackle bag that fits over your shoulder is a must. Bring enough lures that you won’t run out, but you don’t need to bring everything you own.
Generally, three to four rod and reels will be more than enough for any tactic you may encounter while fishing from the bank. Bring a rod and reel setup for topwater frogs, jigs, spinnerbaits, and crankbaits, and you should be able to cover the spectrum of what you’ll need.
#3: Be Mobile
Did we mention being mobile? Be prepared to move around a lot in order to keep your bait in front of fish. Standing in one spot and casting for hours is neither fun, nor productive.
You need to be able to show the fish different presentations and different looks in order to be successful. This means moving around the shore of the lake and casting at different objects from different angles.
If one area isn’t working, move a little further down the shore -- it’s not like they’re paying rent on the one bank you’re poaching.
#4: Fish in the Early Morning for Active, Shallow, Ready To Bite Bass
Early mornings are easily our favorite time to bass fish. This is the time of the day fish are going to be most active, shallow, and feeding.
Take advantage of the bass’ natural feeding patterns and throw fast moving baits. Topwater action can be dynamite in the morning, too.
#5: Fish in the Evening to Hit the Feeding Frenzy
If there is any time of day that rivals early mornings for best times to bank fish, it’s the evening.
While you might have a little more company as people decide to hit the banks in search of bass after work, you’ll also be met by hungry bass. A lot of the same tactics that are so deadly in the morning apply to evening hours as well.
One of the best times to focus on the evening bite window is in the springtime when the water is just starting to warm from winter. The water is going to be warmest in the evenings right before dark, triggering a feeding frenzy for bass looking to bulk up before the spawn.
#6: Fish Bridges for the Big Fish
Bridges are some of the best structures for attracting big bass. This man-made funnel has everything a bass could want—food, structure, current, and shade. They are especially attractive to bass that are transitioning in and out of bays for the spawn. They also contain many high percentage areas to cast your baits including walls, corners, rip rap, and usually some sunken wood that has been lodged in the pylons.
Attack edges of these bridges with crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and jigs, and there’s no doubt that you’ll have a little luck to say the least.
#7: Find Rip Rap
Rip rap banks are absolute bass magnets -- any time of the year, you can generally find some fishing hanging around the rock and rumble looking for a crawfish or minnow.
Rip rap runs along bridges, causeways, highways, and parks. The nice thing about this structure is that it can be found on almost every single body of water, across the USA.
Start by casting parallel to the bank with shallow diving crankbaits, jerkbaits, and spinnerbaits. If that doesn’t work, try probing the depths out a little deeper from the rip rap with a jig or deep diving crankbait. There are almost always bass hanging out around this type of structure.
#8: Fish Marinas for the Shy Fish
Marinas and docks are another great place to look for bank fishing opportunities. Riddled with docks and boats, bass have a lot of good places to hide.
In addition, there is never a shortage of panfish, baitfish, and crawfish around.
Fish in and around the docks and under the boats if possible. Start with moving baits around the sides and corners.
For a slower presentation, try flipping a jig or a soft plastic stick bait around the dock posts. The soft plastic stick baits are usually irresistible to finicky bass.
#9: Utilize Finesse Techniques
In the last paragraph we mentioned soft plastic stick baits. These baits are some of the best bank fishing lures available. They are castable, lightweight to carry, and get a ton of bites.
We like to rig these wacky style (with a small hook through the center of the bait) and cast these around any visible structure on the pond or lake you’re fishing and let it sink slowly to the bottom. Fish will pick it up and swim with it as it slowly flutters down.
Another bait that’s a little bit newer on the scene is the “ned rig.” This is basically a smaller soft plastic stick bait threaded onto a mushroom head jig head. This bait is fished like a wacky rig, only it’s drug slowly along the bottom after it sinks.
#10: Ask Permission (Not Forgiveness) To Fish Private Ponds
Private ponds offer some of the most premier fishing that can be found anywhere. Often stocked with trophy bass and panfish, these bodies of water are some the highest percentage areas to go toe-to-toe with a lunker bass.
Find a pond or lake and figure out who owns it. Give them a call or knock on their door -- if they are hesitant, offer some help around their house or property. The worst someone can say is no.
Always treat private land better than if it were your own and pick up after yourself after leaving. You might just find yourself a hidden gem and make a new fishing friend in the process!
#11: Bring Food and Water
Since you’ll be on foot and out in the hot sun most of the day, plan on bringing enough food and water on your next bank fishing trip.
Depending on how long you’re planning on fishing, you’ll want a light lunch, maybe a few quick snacks, and at least a few bottles of water. Some of our favorite snacks for fishing are beef jerky, sunflower seeds, and trail mix.
All can be found at a local convenience store and are quick and easy to eat no matter where you end up in your bank adventures..
#12: Bring a Camera
You should always have a camera with you when fishing anywhere, especially when you’re fishing lakes that have true trophy potential. A small action camera can easily fit inside of a backpack, tackle box, or tackle bag, and will be worth its weight in gold should you catch a trophy bass.
Of course, these days most of us have phones equipped with cameras already (but a few of us are still cartin’ around flippers). In this case, just make sure your batteries are charged up. Believe me, there’s nothing more disappointing then finally catching a monster bass just to have it turned into a tall tale that no one will believe all because you don’t have a photo to prove it really happened!
A good catch, photo, and release is always best practice when fishing small lakes and ponds. Having a camera there to document your day also can help you look back and learn from your successes and mistakes, making you a better all-around fisherman.
#13: Search for New Scenery
The best part about bass fishing of any kind is being outside in nature. Take it all in and enjoy it.
Some of the best days of our lives come from the adventures we share with friends on and around the water. Take a road trip and find somewhere new to fish. Head over to that state park you always see the exit for on the highway, or make a weekend trip out of hitting a spot you’ve been eyeing for years.
Any time you can enjoy the outdoors, is time well spent.
We hope you use this article to find better bank fishing success this year. Take what we’ve shared here as a great starting point and take your own personal experiences and learn from them!
Bass fishing doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive to be fun. Grab a rod, find a pond, and hang on!