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How to Fish for Bass From the Shore

Walking the shores of southern lakes, ponds, and rivers with rod and reel in hand is a favorite pastime of many junior and even seasoned anglers who either can’t afford a boat or prefer not to deal with the hassle. 

Whether it’s slinging green lizards under shrubbery or popping frogs near submerged logs, there’s a variety of techniques that can be used to snag a bass from shore. 

It’s imperative that you implement several things into your game plan to ensure a successful trip. The right choices in gear, tackle, cast, and retrieval techniques while taking note of your environment can be the difference between cracking a cold one at a fish fry later and eating leftovers.

This is your guide on how to fish for bass from shore.

how to fish for bass from shore
Source: Canva Pro

Gear

Fishing from shore for bass often means carrying your equipment with you instead of leaving it in the boat. Here are a few critical pieces of gear to lighten your load and maximize your effectiveness. 

Polarized Sunglasses

If you’re like me, polarized sunglasses are a must-have. Aside from being easy on the eyes, the polarization of lenses allows for greater depth perception past the surface of the water. 

The lenses also make it easier to discern specific shapes in detail that are submerged, both animal and vegetative. 

Footwear

The second critical piece is footwear. For the majority of bodies of water down south, snakes and bugs are frequent flyers and tend to inhabit the very places you’re looking to cast from. 

The grip on the sole of your shoe is also important, allowing for a firm grip on whatever log or embankment you may be ascending or descending to find the perfect launch point for your bait. 

Ankle-high hiking boots are common place for their protection of exposed skin, relative water resistance, and sturdy grip.

Finally, a multi-tool is incredibly helpful when tackling situations. Instead of lugging a tackle box and tool chest worth of equipment, a basic multi-tool can serve various functions, from unhooking, gutting, clearing brush, and cutting line. 

Insider Tip

A stringer is a poor man’s icebox that works twice as well, provided you tie it off or sink it into the ground well. You can keep your fish alive and well for later without lugging around a cooler to keep them in or if you decide to release them. 

Tackle

I am not simply referring to the lure and hook you place on your line when I say tackle. The line, rod, sinker, and many other factors come into play when working the shore line. 

  • I was raised on and swear by light ugly sticks with 4lbs test on a spinning Shimano reel. Considering everything, you will probably hit snags when shore fishing, so a line thats easy to break is actually a blessing. The spinning reels allow quick access to knots and malfunctions as you probably won’t carry a second rod. Finally, the light rod enables you to differentiate a strike from a bump against a structure you may encounter. 
  • Plastics such as lizards and worms work best for shore fishing when not running top water. They can be hooked in such a way to make them relatively weedless in retrieval, are easily replaceable, cheap and you can carry a pack of them in your back pocket.
  • Top water can be incredibly effective when thrown from shore. Thrown against reeds or over a grass bed can draw out spawning bass during springtime. Be warned, however, the treble hooks often used on top water lures mean you will lose more than a few to snags or bad casts that can’t be retrieved. 
  • While bass may not be born with a silver spoon in their mouth, they spend much of their lives attempting to gobble one up. Gold and silver spoons are lightweight, simple, and completely weedless. The flickering, shiny metal will catch the eye of even the wariest fish and be sure to draw out the monster in the depths. 

Insider Tip

Utilize bait that’s natural in the environment and commonplace to the shoreline. Take note of the ecosystem you’re stepping into and try to find something that will match it in your tackle box. Minnows and lizards work excellent for shoreline drags, while a frog may work better crossing open water with its larger wake and footprint.

Cast and Retrieval 

When it comes to casting, shore fishing covers the gamut of easy to expert. Working in an open lake with no shrubbery means 180 degrees of open water to sling hook, line, and sinker. 

However, underwater structures and obstacles on backwaters, bayous, and rivers often match the overhanging foliage.

  • Learning how to cast backhanded. This allows the rod to be manipulated in confined spaces and can significantly benefit the angler when slinging lures under foliage.
  • Low casts can be the difference between your lure skipping into the perfect pocket between branches and snagging a branch. The ability to sling your bait at waist level or below not only works well on a wooded shore line but also allows for baits to slip under structure with a high water line. 
  • Managing your outgoing line can be the difference between a snag and a sweet spot. Overcasting from shore can mean weeds, snags, or losing your lure. It’s important to understand your baits trajectory distance and mitigate the risk of over casting with a quick flip of the bail or finger on the line. You can practice this at home with a sinker tied to the end of your line and space to cast. 

Insider Tip

Raising up on your rod tip during the part of retrieval that’s nearest to shore can save you lots of hassle. This tends to be where most weeds and smaller snags are located. These can be avoided by raising your rod tip and thereby raising your lure out of harm’s way.

Environment

Taking note of your environment or lack thereof can be the deciding factor, even if all other previously referenced pieces are aligned.

  • Look for structure. Grass beds, Lillies, logs, or even man made can be the perfect spot for a monster bass to lie in wait.
  • Light transitions from the sun to shade are excellent opportunities to throw a lure through. You never know what might be lurking in the shadows.
  • Look for calm spots or off shoots in moving water, somewhere a big fish can lay up out of the current while looking for its next meal. 

Insider Tip

Don’t immediately begin casting upon your arrival at a new spot. You’ve disturbed the environment when you arrived. Now let it acclimate to your presence before starting to cast.

Bass fishing from shore can be an enjoyable experience and, if done correctly, can result in a stringer of green. However, it’s the little things that can make or break your trip, so don’t be locked into one method. 

All gear and techniques should be tried and true but interchangeable to complement the environment. Take note of your environment while utilizing the best tackle and gear for it; implement proper casting and retrieval techniques, and most of all, good luck.

Jacob Pelle
Fishing Expert
Jake Pelle is a third-generation outdoorsman and Eagle Scout. He grew up fishing ponds and rivers in South Louisiana and Mississippi and graduated to fishing brackish/marsh and coastal waters for redfish, drum, and speckled trout. When not on a flat range, he can be found with rod and reel in hand searching for the next greatest fishing hole in South Louisiana.
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