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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I get asked a lot about fishing for “big” fish or “giant” fish. How do I look for big fish? How do I find big fish? What lures are best for big fish? Since I am sitting around watching the wind blow today I thought I would write down a few thoughts.

These are my own thoughts/theories of my experience of chasing big bass. Of course they are geared towards consistently putting big fish (lets say 7-8+lb fish) in the boat. Lots of folks have caught that one big “miracle” fish but many are not consistent at it. I personally try to work on being consistent at finding 7-12lb fish on my home lake OH Ivie.

Mental Game:
The #1 part of trophy bass fishing for me is being mentally prepared. Lots of people want to fish for big fish but are never prepared when they arrive at the lake. I see a lot guys desire for fishing for giant fish wane after an hour or so of not getting a bite. When you start wondering whether you should go shallower, change baits, “go get bites”, etc is usually when that big fish will bite and you are not ready. Those bites don’t come often and when they do you better be on top of your game or a giant fish will make you look silly.
Trying to fish for big fish is a different mindset than tournament fishing/prefishing. You are not trying to put stringers together you are trying to consistently catch the biggest fish in your area.

Have Realistic Expectations:
Having realistic expectations about your trip will help your mental game. Be realistic about what is possible on your lake. A 6 lber may be a giant on your lake so don’t be disappointed if you aren’t catching 10lbers under every bush. Many people go their whole lives and never break the 8 or 10lb mark. Chasing your goal should be the fun part and not a beat down when you have unrealistic expectations. You should have expectations in line with the body of water you are fishing.
I remember a trip back when I was guiding on Amistad. I had two guys from Houston that were down to fish with me after all the BASS TV publicity. We had a great day in opinion. One guy had a 8lb 2oz fish that was a new PB and the other guy had a 9lb 4oz fish (He had a 10-2 PB in Mexico) and we had about 40-50 fish total. A lot of those fish were 3-5lbers. When we were idling back into the Air Force marina the guy that caught the 9 called his buddy and told him it was “just a so-so day”…”we didn’t catch anything over 10lbs”.

Being Prepared (Equipment):
Having your equipment (reels, rods, line) in top shape is another major requirement. I have had folks hook into big fish only to have their reel anti reverse not working properly etc. I have had guys tell me that “it has been doing that lately”. Don’t take faulty equipment when fishing for giant fish. The other thing I hear a lot is “my line isn’t too good” or “I’ve got a nick in my line but it should be good for a few more fish”. I have never figured out the logic in those statements. If you are going to put in the time make sure your tools are in top shape. Keep your equipment on your boat working so you can maximize your time on the water.

We all know a snoopy pole is not the best outfit for giant fish. Match your tackle with your biggest fish in your lake and your presentation.

Locating Giant Fish (Equipment):
Electronics are huge for me in locating giant fish. I spend a lot of time staring at sonar looking for bait and bass. Learn to read your sonar and you will be able to eliminate a lot of water. Another major tool is GPS mapping. I sit at home a lot and spend a lot of time looking at my navionics on my phone marking potential big fish areas. Once I have an idea where the fish are holding I can find identical areas on my maps to check with sonar and side imaging.

Locating Giant Fish (Patterns and Areas):
I am a big offshore fisherman and believe that in most deep water lakes like I fish the biggest majority of the giant fish relate to deep water. Whether that is a creek channel or river channel, etc. A lot of these fish move up into feeding flats adjacent to deeper water and then retreat back to the relative safety of deep water. Another thing to remember is a lot of the large bait that these giant fish are eating stay offshore as well. Once you find big bait offshore the giant bass will not be far behind. They may not be there the day you find them but you can go back in a day or two and find them. I have marked big bait (perch, shad) with no bass and go back a day or two later and find the bass loaded up in those areas. Depth changes close to feeding flats are always a good area to start looking for giant fish.

We all know of someone that has caught a giant fish on a 4” worm or tube. That is all some people fish with so that is what they catch them on. Consistently for me I catch the best average fish when I am matching my baits and size of baits with what the giant fish are consistently eating. That usually means big jigs, big LFT Flutter Spoons, and big plastics. Those big fish use the same energy to eat a 3” perch as they do a 6” perch. Match your baits with what your fish are eating. For me on Ivie a lot of our big fish are eating bait in that 4-6” range.

Catching Giant Fish:
To me this is the easiest part. Notice I didn’t say easy I said easiest. If you have all of the above down and you have found them normally you can catch them if they are active. I try to concentrate on active fish. Just because you found them doesn’t mean you are going to catch them or that they are active when you are there. I have gone back to the same areas 3 or 4 times in a day and finally caught them active and am able to catch them. The first couple of times I may not have even gotten a bite. When you have your electronics down (sonar, gps) you should be able to keep your baits in the productive areas and not waste time with casts either up to shallow or too deep.

Landing Giant Fish:
Part of this can go back to your mental game. Be prepared to work a big fish to the boat. I have had guys hook onto big fish and I will tell them to back off their drag and they will spin their magnetic brake knob around. Just not in it mentally. This is normal for folks not normally fighting big fish. Just something to think about ahead of time.

Know what you’re fishing and look for ways to get those big fish into open water. A lot of fish we have been catching lately you have to get them off the bottom and out of the wood/rock pretty quick but once you get them up you can back off your drag and work them in.

Caring For Your Fish:
Have your camera easily accessible where you don’t have to keep the fish out of water for long periods. I normally put fish in the livewell with the pumps on manual while we get ready for a pic. Have a needle in your boat in case fizzing is needed. Learn to fizz before you get on the water. Get your pics taken and get the fish back ASAP for you to catch another time.

Hope some of these tips might help someone. I’m sure I left quite a bit out but it’s a start. If you have a good tip of your own post it up on here. We can all learn something.

· Registered
51 Posts
Great write-up and it sounds like good advice.

I showed it to my fishing partner and here was his response:

The Bill Smith Big Bass Fishing Tips:
1st: Go Fishing
2nd: Use a lure that catches fish!!!!
3rd: Hope a Big Fish is where you throw your Lure
4th: Set the Hook on your garage sale fishing pole
5th: Make sure fish gets in the Boat.
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