What do bass eat? In summer, they eat just about anything that they can fit into their mouths — including smaller largemouth bass. Listed below are the main types of foods that bass eat, and some of the best lures that represent each type of prey.
Baitfish, Minnows, and Smaller Fish, Top Bass Foods
Smaller fish make up a significant portion of the diet of the largemouth bass. Shiners, shad, bream, smaller bass, and other minnows are actively fed upon, particularly in shallow and medium depth waters.
The best bass lures that mimic baitfish are crankbaits, spinner baits, and jerk baits. Crankbaits, such as Rapala original floaters are great for use in areas where bass are feeding on minnows near the shore. Spinner baits, which resemble small pods of swimming baitfish, are also great to use in summer. These two baits should both be steadily reeled. Try using a jerk bait (soft plastic fluke) without weight in the shallows when largemouth are busting schools of minnows; this lure may be jerked and twitched, causing it to resemble a struggling baitfish, and enticing hungry bass. Plastic worms, such as Zoom finesse worms and Yamamoto senkos are also top baitfish imitations when they are retrieved quickly, though they can represent eels and earthworms when retrieved slowly.
Frogs, Top Bass Prey in Summer
Frogs are also heavily preyed upon by bass in summer. They are usually found closer to shore, in grassy areas and waters with lily pads, or in places where streams and creeks feed lakes and ponds.
Scum frogs, poppers, and floating crankbaits in the firetiger color pattern are great frog baits. As scum frogs (which can also successfully imitate mice and rats, both of which bass will happily engulf) may be fished without snagging, they are great for use in waters with a lot of grass and lily pads. Poppers may be pulled along so that they run adjacent to the shore, with pops every few seconds and slow reeling between. Crankbaits are best when steadily reeled at a slow pace along the edges of grassy areas or near the shore.
Crayfish, What Bass Eat in Deeper Waters
Crayfish (also called crawfish and crawdads) are freshwater crustaceans that bass love to feed upon. Crayfish are usually found in deeper waters, where they scavenge along the bottom. There are many great crayfish baits to use for bass.
Jig and pigs, some of the best baits during any time of year, are great for largemouth that are lurking in the depths. Dark colored jig and pigs should be cast into deeper water, allowed to sink, and then retrieved with rod twitches, and slow reeling of the slack line created. Tubes, smaller, lighter crayfish lures, may be fitted with light or medium weight jigheads, and retrieved in much the same way. These deep baits will also entice bass looking for other bottom foods, like salamanders, tadpoles, and sculpin. Crayfish crankbaits, a great one of which is of Cabela’s brand (the Dig-It Craw crankbait) are excellent lures to use in shallow or medium depth waters. One of these should be reeled very slowly, so that it looks like a swimming, retreating crayfish.
Insects, Bass Prey in Summer
Insects are what bass eat during many of the hottest days in summer. Dragonflies and damselflies often buzz about over the surface, touching down to lay eggs at times, and largemouth lie in wait for them. Grasshoppers, crickets, and cicadas are also liable to inadvertently make their ways into the water along the edges of ponds and lakes flanked by grassy areas, and largemouth are always sure to capitalize on the clumsiness of these insects.
Any surface baits, such as small poppers, unweighted plastic worms, and floating crankbaits are great for bass looking for insects on the surface. When largemouth have their eyes to the top of the water, they seldom refuse any topwater baits presented to them by anglers.
Largemouth bass fishing in summer is a popular outdoor activity in North America. Knowing what bass eat, and what lures best represent their preys is an essential part of success.