Posts Tagged ‘bass fishing secrets’

How to Tell the Difference between a Kentucky/Spotted Bass and a Largemouth Bass

When I first started fishing lakes that contained both Kentucky and Largemouth bass, I did not care about identifying which one was on the end of my line. I just enjoyed catching fish. However, once I started fishing tournaments, I had to differentiate between the two species on lakes that have different size limits for each one. For example, Lake of the Ozarks and Bull Shoals Lake each have a 15” limit on black bass but a 12” limit for Kentucky bass.

I will never forget my first tournament on that lake, my partner and I were catching a ton of “bass” on Chompers…and we were having a fantastic time doing it. Neither of us knew, for sure, how to differentiate between the two species. All we had heard was that Kentucky bass have a rough patch on their tongue. We didn’t know HOW rough of a patch…just a rough patch. So…when we started catching fish after fish, if we felt anything AT ALL on the tongue, into the live well it went!

We were a red faced at weigh in and VERY lucky that a conservation agent did not stop us on the water to check our fish. Most of our 12-inch fish were, in fact, largemouth bass! Lucky for us, it was tournament that consisted of a bunch of friends, so we were simply mocked and made fun of instead of receiving monetary penalties.

Differences between a Largemouth Bass and a Spotted Bass

The Tongue

As stated above, spots have a rough patch on their tongue. Largemouth bass do not. Please note that the rough patch is very noticeable on a spotted bass, and you might feel “something” on the tongue of a largemouth.

The Hinge of the Mouth

There is a reason that largemouth bass are called largemouth! If you were to draw a line straight down from the back of a largemouth’s eye to the bottom of the jaw, the end of the hinge of its mouth would be behind that line. Kentucky bass, on the other hand, will have the hinge in front of that line.

Kentucky Bass

The jaw of the Kentucky Bass is in front of the back of the eye.

Largemouth Bass

The hinge of the Largemouth's jaw extends behind the back of the eye.


The Dorsal Fin

Both species have a set of dorsal fins. The front one is larger than the rear fin. The difference is that, on a spotted bass, there is little to no separation between the two. A large mouth will have as distinct ending and beginning between the two.

Kentucky Bass

Little or no separation between dorsal fins.

Largemouth Bass

There is a definite separation between the fins.


Both species of bass have a lateral line running down the middle of their body. Spotted bass have blotches or “spots”

above their lateral line. They also have a bluish/green tint to their color. Largemouth bass on the other hand, favor the green side of the color wheel!

The Cheek Scales

Cheek scales on a largemouth bass are the same size as the rest of the scales on its body. Spotted bass have noticeably smaller scales on their cheeks.

Another big difference between the two species is how they fight on the end of the line. Largemouth bass tend to come straight to the top of the water and try to shake the lure out of their mouth. Kentucky bass fight more like a smallmouth. They head to the bottom and resist every inch of the way to the surface.

Hopefully the next time you hook a bass at your favorite lake, you will be better able to identify the football on the end of your line.


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Have you ever purchased a new suspending jerkbait only to find out that on your first retrieve, it swims badly to the right, left or does loop-de-loops all the way back to the boat? A lot of people would simply cut the lure off and put it into the abyss that is a tackle box…never to be touched again.

There is a simple way to tune your jerkbait (or any crankbait) so you don’t lose any time chasing big bass in the Spring.

Tips to Correctly Tune Your Jerkbait or Crankbait

  • Take a pair of needle-nose pliers and place it horizontally in line with the bait while you pinch the eyelet on the nose of the bait.
  • Roll your wrist in the OPPOSITE direction of the way the bait is swimming.
  • The adjustment should be done in very small increments
  • Throw the bait out a few yards and retrieve. If the bait still swims incorrectly, repeat the process until the bait swims straight. If the bait over corrects, then roll your wrist in the opposite direction until the bait swims correctly.
  • Click HERE to watch a video on tuning your baits.

If want to invest a few dollars, there are tools on the market designed specifically for tuning baits. These are basically small metal rods with a slit in the end…just big enough to insert the eyelet of the bait. Simply follow the steps above using the tuning tool instead of needle-nose pliers. They can be purchased on-line or at your local fishing tackle store.

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I had the great opportunity to meet some of the women in the Gateway Bass’n Gals fishing club yesterday at Bass Pro in St. Charles, MO. The club had a table set up and was promoting their organization during Bass Pro’s spring sale.

Club Members

Members of The Bass'n Gals Fishing Club

I spoke with Lisa Opfer, the club’s treasurer, and she was very informative as well as a pleasure to talk to. She told us that the club was organized to give women the opportunity to bass fish competitively among their peers. They welcome all lady anglers, experienced and beginners, to come join their club.

The Bass’n Gals Club was established in 1988 with the goal of promoting the sport of bass fishing among women and youth. The tournament schedule for 2010 includes seven events on lakes in or around Missouri. The lakes include Lake of the Ozarks, Table Rock, Kentucky Lake, Truman and Stockton. They also have a fun weekend at Lake Taneycomo near Branson.

This organization is a great opportunity for any female angler looking to better this skills and meet other women who love to fish.

Below is text from the Bass’n Gals Club website: http://www.gatewaybass-n-gals.com

Bass ‘n Gals Club Information

Club Officers for 2008 Season

President – Mary Lipka
Vice President – Bonnie Betts
Treasure – Lisa Opfer
Secretary – Leslie Anderson
Tournament Director – Lynda Gessner

Gateway Bass’n Gals
Our members also appreciate having a friendly environment to further their skills and compete for cash returns. We are proud of our members that have or are planning to compete on the Women’s Bassmaster Tour

A Driving Passion
Women today constitute more than one third of all anglers. They own and operate their own rigs, trailer those rigs to any given lake throughout the country and do fish competitively, just like their male counterparts.

For the women who participate in the sport, bass fishing is a driving passion in their lives. It boosts their self esteem creates healthier minds and bodies. It significantly reduces their stress level, creating a happier family atmosphere. The Gateway Bass’n Gals strives to abolish the myth that women do not fish, and that bass fishing on a competitive level, is strictly a man’s sport.

The beginning angler needs a place to learn and the accomplished, experienced angler cherishes the camaraderie she shares with her angling peers and is always willing to pass her knowledge on to beginning anglers. The Gateway Bass’n Gals are dedicated to providing just such a venue for ALL women anglers throughout our area.

We invite you to join us in our efforts to grow the sport of bass fishing for all women.

Gateway Bass’n Gals…. Promote fellowship, friendship and fun among women anglers to provide a wholesome organization for its members and their families.
Gateway Bass’n Gals…. Are committed to conservation and the preservation of our natural resources and the environment
Gateway Bass’n Gals…. Help to improve the skills of anglers through the exchange of techniques, ideas and demonstrations.
Gateway Bass’n Gals…. Strive to introduce the youth of America to the sport of fishing
Gateway Bass’n Gals…. Continue to make our communities a better place for all, through it’s Kids Fish programs and charitable fund raising programs.
Gateway Bass’n Gals…. “Always Practices catch and release”

Members Perks

Cash Paybacks
Recognition of Achievements
Banquets and Barbeques
Christmas Party
Club assistance for expenses/entry into a
“WBT tournament of choice” for the top five anglers

Comment to this blog to request more information about this great organization

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Have you ever gone to your favorite tackle shop in search for a particular bait only to find out that they are sold out? If that lure is sold out, then chances are, everyone who purchased that bait is throwing it on the nearest lake.

Fish get familiar with lures that are constantly barraging them. After a while, they equate that bait with a steel hook in their head…and they quit hitting it altogether. One way fishermen are increasing their chances at landing fish is to custom paint their own lures. Custom painting lures is a great way to set your baits above the rest and show the fish something a bit different than what everyone else is throwing.

Painting your own baits is fairly simple. The items you need to get started are a small air compressor, an airbrush, paint and clear coat to protect the paint job.

Custom Painted Bass Lures

Custom painted wiggle wart

Small air compressors are not that expensive and can be purchased from any hardware store like Home Depot or Lowe’s. You can also use them for other jobs around the house like topping off the tires on your truck, cleaning off your work bench or keeping the kid’s soccer ball full.

The simplest airbrushes work with a single action mechanism where the depression of a single “trigger” results in paint and air flowing into the airbrush body and the atomized paint being expelled onto the target surface. Cheaper airbrushes and spray guns tend to be of this type.

Paasche Airbrush

Typical airbrush used to paint lures

Dual action or double action airbrushes separate the function for air and paint flow so that the user can control the volume of airflow and the concentration of paintflow through two independent mechanisms. This allows for greater control and a wider variety of artistic effects. This type of airbrush is more complicated in design than single action airbrushes which tend to be reflected in its cost.

Buying paint is the fun part. You can find paint at hobby shops or online. These colors you purchase should be the colors that reflect the food supply in your lake (if it’s a clear-water situation) or bold colors like orange, chartreuse and blue if you are in stained- or muddy-water situations.

Prepping the bait consists of removing the existing paint with sand paper, paint thinner or with a sand-blasting machine. Make sure all the original paint is gone and that you are starting with a smooth, clean surface. Then remove the hooks and O-rings and tape the bill with masking tape to keep the bill clean and free of over spray.

The key to painting lures is to start with spraying small amounts of paint a time AND to keep your hand moving across the bait. If you stop, your spray will not be evenly distributed across the length of the lure.

Perhaps the most important part of the entire process is the clear coat. This coat seals and protects the paint job and gives your bait a coat of armor.

When you are done painting the lure, hang it with a piece of wire for at least a day until the clear coat does not feel tacky.

For more information about custom painted baits, drop me a comment on this blog.

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Spring fishing is almost here, and fishermen are coming out of hibernation. Early spring can be boom or bust depending on if you are on the good side of a cold front. This time of year, the weather patterns are somewhat cyclical. We will have three of four days of clear, mile-high skies followed by a low pressure front that pushes through, usually followed by either cold weather or rain…or both. Then the pattern repeats.

Most of us are not individually wealthy and have to work during the week. That leaves the weekend left for fishing. If the Fishing Gods are on your side, the cold fronts will push through on Sunday night leaving Saturday and Sunday day full of great fishing. If you have my luck, the front pushes through on Friday night leaving clear, blue-bird skies, chilly weather and a drop in fish activity.

There are some techniques that you can apply to help pry open the jaws of cold-front bass.

Scale Down
It’s important to scale down your lure presentation. Instead of picking up your baitcasting rod with 15-lb. test, go with a spinning rod with 6- or 8-lb. test.

Stay Tight and Slow Your Presentation
Fish are going to hold tight to cover under cold front conditions. Instead of blowing down a bank and hitting cover with one or two casts, slow down and dissect that cover with your casts. When you are finished, move your boat position and do the same thing from a different angle. The fish are going to be picky, and you are going to have to hit them in the head with your lure. By changing your boat position, you can increase your chances to getting your bait into strike range.

Go Deep
Bass in clear reservoirs like Bull Shoals Lake will move to deep water during high barometric pressure situations. If you were catching fish in five to 10 feet of water before a front, move to 15 or 20 feet.

Lures Selection
Drop Shotting has risen to the top of many fishermen’s lists in the past few years when the bite gets tough. Originally started on the west coast, drop shotting has made its way across the U.S., especially in clear water lakes and reservoirs.

4-inch Grubs are also a go-to lure for tough bass. Fished with an 1/8 oz. jig head, grubs have proven their existence for many years.

Suspending Jerk Baits are popular during early spring. These baits can be tweaked to suspend perfectly or fall very slowly. If your jerk bait rises, add weight by up-sizing the hooks, adding lead strips or adding additional O-rings to the hooks.

Don’t let a climbing barometer deter you from hitting the lake. Re-group, adjust and adapt your techniques to compliment the conditions, and you will have better success on the water.

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