Bank Fishing for Bass

Bank fishing is a way to catch bass without having to get an expensive boat, pay for gas, and worry about finding a place to launch. The secret to bank fishing is choosing the correct time, lure, and location to give yourself the best chance of catching a trophy-worthy bass.

Here is what you need to know to succeed while bank fishing for bass.

Why Fish from the Bank?

Some people may think that bank fishing is something for children that you “grow out of” as you get older. However, there are several essential advantages to fishing from the bank.

  • Without a boat, you can get close to bass in the shallow water without alerting them of your presence. A motor, oar, or canoe paddle could scare away bass before you even have a chance to cast.
  • From the shore, you can reach areas that are inaccessible with a boat. Areas that are too shallow for watercraft or protected by sand bars or water plants are still accessible from the shore. These shallow, protected areas are often ideal for bass fishing.
  • Once you master bank-fishing, you can fish anywhere where you are likely to find bass, including ponds and streams that are not accessible with a boat.
  • Bank fishing is accessible to everyone. All you need is a rod, and reel, a few lures, and knowledge of how and where to fish.
  • You can bank fish for bass anytime without planning a significant fishing expedition, gassing up your boat, hiring a guide, or hitching a trailer to your vehicle.
  • Bank fishing is a great way to practice your bass fishing skills and perfecting your techniques. The same variables, including the time of day, lure choice, location, and casting, apply whether you are fishing from a boat or on dry land.

Why Not Add Bank Fishing to Your Skill Set?

Even if you have access to a boat, you will find that sometimes bank fishing for bass is the best option. At the very least, you can add bank fishing skills to your fishing arsenal.

That way, you can cast from the shore when conditions dictate that bank fishing will give you the best chance of a successful fishing session.

What Not to Expect from Bank Fishing

Despite some noticeable advantages, bank fishing for bass has some drawbacks. You can’t access deeper water, where bass tend to go during hotter weather.

Also, you can’t switch locations easily. If fish aren’t biting in one spot, you will need to hike or drive to different places. This process will take longer than simply moving elsewhere on a river or lake in a boat.

For some people, part of the allure of fishing is sitting on a boat on the water. While this does not describe every angler, it may be an element of the fishing experience you miss if you usually fish from a watercraft.

Bank fishing for bass can be gratifying, regardless of your age, location, or boat access. However, you need to be aware of several factors when fishing for bass from a bank. The most critical variables are location choice and fishing gear.

Locating Bass from the Bank

The first step in bank fishing for bass is selecting the correct location. This step is vital because it is more challenging to move spots when fishing from dry land.

Choice of place depends on several factors:

  • The time of year
  • The time of day
  • The ability to access the area without disturbing the bass
  • Having enough room to cast

It’s a Percentage Game

You want to choose a location that offers the highest percentage of catching bass. Of course, you won’t be sure if a place is productive until you put your lure in the water. Specific locations will give you much better odds of catching fish.

Time of Day Matters When Choosing a Location

Bass hunt for prey and forage for food in the mornings or evenings. They may be active during the day. However, during the day, they will seek out shaded places with lots of cover or head for deeper water.

The issue with shaded areas is that they usually have trees that make casting difficult.

Bass like to have cover from which they can dart out to catch prey such as bream, minnows, or crawfish. Places with lots of rocks, submerged logs, or underwater foliage are ideal, especially if the water is shallow.

Bass Follow the Food

Bass like to eat insects, crawfish, and small baitfish like bream, shad, minnows, and sunfish. Wherever these fish are, you are most likely to find bass nearby. For example, small fish like to feed on algae on rocks that are submerged or partially submerged in the water.

In some cases, you may be able to see small fish when standing on the shore. If there are bass in the area, they will certainly not be far away.

You can be more liberal with your choices in the spring and fall. In the spring, bass prepare for spawning, so both males and females are filling up on food to prepare for the hard work of laying eggs and caring for fry.

Bass are more ravenous during this time of year, and they will be more comfortable in shallower water because temperatures are still cooler.

In the fall, bass also head to shallower water because of the temperature drop. At this time, they seek out baitfish that are moving slowly because of the colder temperatures. You can select areas with slow-moving fish and then cast a lure that mimics their lethargic movements.

Give Yourself Options

Conditions in the water will decide your bass-catching odds. However, you can also increase your chances by selecting the right conditions on the bank or shoreline.

Shore or bank conditions are always secondary to finding the right bass habitat in the water. However, you can increase your options by choosing fishing spots that are easier to navigate.

For example, a location with an easily accessible bank is preferable to a spot with limited casting space. With more potential casting spots, you can quickly move down a few yards if you do not catch anything at your current place.

Make Sure You Have an Approach

One of the most significant advantages of bank fishing for bass is that you do not disturb them with a boat. Be careful not to cancel out this advantage. Choose a place where you can quietly approach the bank without casting any shadows over the water, which could spook bass.

Gear for Bass Fishing

Gear selection is also essential when bank fishing for bass. You need to select the right pole, reel, and lures for the conditions.

One of the advantages of fishing from a boat is that you can carry 10 different poles to have what you need for every occasion. You wouldn’t want to take more than one or two when bank fishing for bass. Also, you do not want to carry a whole tackle box full of lures, either.

Rod and Reel Setups

A seven-foot max length pole with a standard spinning reel is ideal for most bank fishing for bass situations. You can use it with an 8-lb or 10-lb test line made from fluorocarbon. The advantage of this rod and reel is that it is easy to cast.

You typically want to avoid rods that are too long (7 foot max) since it can be difficult to cast in tighter spaces like you can run into with trees and other plants along the bank of a river or pond.

If you are a novice angler, then this setup will be the easiest to learn how to cast. Since casting is a vital skill for bank fishing, you do not want to underestimate the importance of a rig that is easy to cast.

If you are serious about bank fishing for bass, you may want to add a second pole to your quiver. A second pole can act as a backup, so you do not have to stop fishing if your main rig breaks down.

You can add a second spinning rod, but you can also get a bit of versatility by opting for a medium-heavy casting rod, which can handle a 15-lb test line made with fluorocarbon.

This heavier-duty pole can handle larger lures, which you may need during late-spring post-spawning periods or when you fish in areas with thick vegetation.

Regardless of the size of the pole, you’ll want to opt for shorter options that are six, 6.5, or seven feet long. The shorter length will give you flexibility and allow you to cast from tight spaces without getting the tip caught in branches or bushes along the bank.


Versatility is also the name of the game when it comes to lures. Plastic worms are always good bets as bass will eat whatever foods are available and most accessible.

Worms are always on their menu.

You can also opt for whatever food sources are currently available in the location where you are fishing. A lure that looks like a minnow or shad is a good bet. You will want to mimic the movement of these baitfish when using this lure.

Another option is to get a more-universal lure. Crawfish, for example, are a favorite bass prey, and they are common in water almost everywhere in the country.

Bass will also strike surface lures. If you end up in a place with rocks, logs, or weeds under the surface, you will want to have a couple of surface lures that can attract bass without snagging on the underwater topography.

Finally, bait that mimics insects or small frogs may prove useful in ponds or other standing water bodies where these creatures are common bass food sources.

Other Tools

Along with a few lures, you should bring a case with scissors or a knife, tweezers, additional fishing line, and a few leads. You need to be prepared to handle minor snags and easy repairs while bank fishing.

You also want to bring gear to keep yourself comfortable. Mosquito and tick repellants are essential if you are fishing in brushy areas.

Sunscreen, a hat, or sunglasses can also help if your chosen spot is in the sun.

The better prepared you are to handle different conditions, the more options you will have for fishing spots. In other words, you won’t have to leave a spot because it’s too buggy or sunny.

Tips for Bank Fishing for Bass

With the right equipment and the right approach to choosing fishing spots, you can be successful bank fishing for bass. What else do you need to know about this style of angling?

  • There is always going to be an element of trial and error. You may think you have the ideal spot, but you do not get any bites after an hour of casting. If this happens, you can reevaluate and move to another spot. There may be something you are not thinking of keeping the bass away from your “perfect” place.
  • Experiment with different times of the day. Bass move as they search for food. They may have different hunting grounds in the morning and evening. One spot may be productive in the morning, but not even offer a nibble in the evening.
  • Practice your casting skills. Casting is everything in bank fishing. You want to be able to cast from tight spaces and cast your lure exactly where it needs to go. You may even consider getting a small casting weight for practicing casts in your yard or an open space in a park.
  • Approach the bank quietly and cautiously. If you are too loud or come stomping through the brush to reach the bank, a bass may get scared away and not return for hours. Moving stealthily and avoiding casting shadows on the water can ensure that you maintain the element of surprise.
  • Maintain a sense of exploration. The best aspect of bank fishing for bass is that you can always explore and seek the next “best secret fishing spot.” If you can get excited about the exploring aspect of bank fishing for bass, you will never be bored.

With the right equipment, the correct approach, and a sense of exploration, you will have fun and success while bank fishing for bass.