< Back to Get Started Fishing
More people fish for bass in Arkansas than for any other type of fish. Bass fishing can be as basic as using live minnows from the bank, or it can be as involved as using rods and reels that cost hundreds of dollars and fishing from boats that cost more than most cars.
Bass anglers target largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and spotted bass. All three are found in Arkansas, but most waters suit one species over the other two. Smallmouth bass typically live in the cooler water of streams and small rivers, but are found in some reservoirs in Arkansas. Spotted bass live in warmer streams and rivers and many reservoirs in Arkansas. Largemouth bass typically prefer the still water of lakes, reservoirs and bayous, but are also found on large rivers. By far, the largemouth is the most abundant of the three and the most sought after.
Click on the photo for details about each fish.
Lures to Use
- Bass can be caught on the same live bait rigs as crappie, but most bass anglers prefer using artificial lures.
- Spinnerbaits are a year-round lure for bass. To get started, pick spinnerbaits in white and chartreuse, ranging in size from ¼-ounce to ½-ounce. Fish spinnerbaits in shallow water close to cover. It’s hard to snag a spinnerbait on cover, so fish as close as you can to objects in the water.
- Crankbaits are a good choice to fish in water that has some cover but plenty of open water. Crankbaits dive to specific depths, so cast beyond your target and retrieve it at a medium speed.
- Soft-plastic worms are some of the most popular lures for bass. To Texas-rig a worm, slide a bullet sinker on the line and tie a 2/0 or 3/0 hook to the end. Thread the worm onto the hook and push the hook through the side about a quarter-inch from the head. Pull the hook through until its eye is buried in the top of the worm, then twist it and push the point back into the body of the worm. Worms are almost snag-proof, so they’re great for fishing around thick bushes and grass.
Rods, Reels and Tackle
- Most bass fishing is done with spinning rod-and-reel combos and baitcasting rod-and-reel combos.
- Use 6- to 10-pound test monofilament line on spinning rods, and use lures that match the rod’s action. Most spinning rods are used for lightweight lures, such as small spinners, crankbaits and soft-plastics.
- Use 10- to 20-pound test monofilament on baitcasting rods. Baitcasting rods use heavier lures and are more comfortable to cast and retrieve all day.
- Top-water lures are an exciting way to catch bass during spring and summer. Bass are some of the only game fish that hit top-water lures.
Other Helpful Equipment
- A landing net is helpful when catching bass from a boat or the bank.
- Needle-nosed pliers are helpful when cutting line or removing a hook from a fish.
- With all the lures bass anglers use, a good tacklebox is helpful to keep things organized.
- Top-water fishing is exciting, but bass rarely hit a top-water lure in the middle of the day unless the sky is filled with clouds. Fish top-water lures early in the morning and late in the evening.
- Spinnerbaits are excellent lures on windy days, when small waves cover the surface of the water. Spinnerbaiting in water with a slick surface can be tough.
- The packages of crankbaits will tell you how deep they will run. Match the running depth of the crankbait with the depth of the water you’re in. You want the bait to barely bump along the bottom and trigger strikes.
- When fishing a soft-plastic worm, keep contact with your lure and watch your line at all times. If you feel slight tug or see the line begin to move away from you, reel up any slack in the line and yank back hard to set the hook.