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Bass love to lurk in natural habitat

David Gentry caught this beautiful Minnesota largemouth and released it. Largemouth bass provide an exhilarating battle, readily available in the Park Rapids area lakes. Locating bass is simply a matter of habitat. (Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)

It's the eternal angling question; do you fish for bass in shallow water or deep water?

The answer is quite simple.


Shallow areas are much easier to target in a sense, due to the protruding weeds like pencil reeds and lily pads that bass love. Pinpointing a cast against the physical structure that's visible makes shallow water a desirable area for a big bucket-mouth.

Texas-rigged plastic worms, weedless Senkos, weedless frogs and any other baits that can navigate through the vegetation is worth a try.

Yet those weedless baits aren't always weedless. Any lure that claims to be weedless is never entirely weedless. A gust of wind can wrap the angler's line around weeds, and the area where the knot connects to the lure is highly susceptible to snagging the flora.

And "weedless" definitely does not pertain to the aftermath of hooking a bass. Their powerful runs can wrap up the vegetation in short order, creating abrasion on the line and sometimes breaking the angler's monofilament, fluorocarbon or braid.

Heavier lines are required when fishing shallow weeds. Line weights from 14-30 pound test are the best choices. Braided line is the most abrasion resistant, yet it has no stretch to it. In other words, moving the rod tip two feet moves the hook two feet. A lighter rod action absorbs the shock yet doesn't give you the hard hook-set some anglers desire.

Personally, I like a 20-30 pound test monofilament or braid in the exposed weeds. The braid is super-responsive for fishing frogs or ¾ to ½ ounce bass jigs. It cuts through lily-pad stalks and even manages to bring fish in amongst the fibrous pencil reeds.

In deep water areas, anglers must rely upon their electronics, meaning their sonar.

Six to twenty-foot depths have weeds too, primarily cabbage weed, coontail and northern milfoil (not Eurasion water milfoil which is an invasive species and is not currently growing in any area lakes.)

Deep water bass often require a finesse approach, smaller presentations on light weight jigheads in the 1/16th, 3/32nd or 1/8th ounce sizes. Soft plastic lures like Northland Tackle's Dipstick Worm and 4.5" jigworm are great ways to garner big bass in the deeper weed areas.

Crankbaits are an additional option. Those that dive from 5 to 10 feet deep in natural colors that emulate shiner minnows, perch, bluegill and crayfish often gain the most attention.

The similarity between shallow water and deep water bass is that topwater lures are effective.

Though a top-water frog may not work as well in 15 feet of water, a "walking" bait such as a Zara Spook is an essential surface lure for the devoted bass angler.

Largemouth differ slightly in their prey choices from smallmouth and in desirable habitat. Smallmouth bass tend to gravitate toward rock, rubble, sand and gravel whereas largemouth bass tend to harbor near more weedy regions of the lake. Yet some presentations attract both largemouth and smallmouth bass.

Keep casting, re-tying and you'll figure it out!