The days are getting longer. Have you noticed?
I sure have… as someone who suffers from the “winter grumblies” (which is a cute way to describe “seasonal depression”) the extra sunlight sparks something in my soul. It’s as if a fire has been lit, and suddenly this feeling of opportunity takes over.
“There’s so much to do. So many goals to complete. So many fish to pursue. I need to get moving!“
This boost usually leads to more output. I start writing more. Working on videos more aggressively. This leads to an even bigger morale boost, because I’m reminded of all the situations and presentations that were productive last year. Days & fish I had all but forgotten… like this absolutely amazing trip to the creek the first week of June.
So in a sense, if you’re like me… you understand that we’re kinda like a largemouth bass. We have these very distinct periods of increased activity.
But enough about us… let’s talk about Billy Bass.
Largemouth Bass Strike Window Size: Active Bass
The strike window of an active bass will actually change size and shape as the the fish swims faster. For example: with more forward momentum (when the bass swims faster) they will gain forward range, but lose the ability to turn sharply to either side.
If you’re wondering what that means in people-terms, cruising bass usually extend their forward range to about 6 feet.
If the fish is literally dashing (the scientific term for this is hauling a**) they can overtake prey & lures at ranges of more than 10 feet.
This ties in with their feeding strategy, so if you need a refresher make sure to hit this article again:
These windows are less accurate predictors than those of less active or stationary bass. Why? As the speed of the bass increases, the importance of the relative speed and direction of the preyfish increases. This means that prey moving with the bass (moving in the same direction and within the strike window) are at risk – however – those moving across the strike window, or through it headed directly towards the bass (meaning the bass & prey are swimming in opposite directions towards one another) are hard to catch and often ignored.
Bass are opportunistic feeders.
This makes me think about past interviews with David Fritts, one of the most famous (and deadly) crankbait anglers of all time. More than once I have heard him talk about working a crankbait through an area using different casting angles to trigger a bite. There is no doubt that cranks pulled in the direction that active bass are moving or facing have a better chance of triggering a strike.
Because of this, bass usually move at chase speeds when they are able to position themselves behind fleeing prey. If prey or your presentation move out of this window, they become uncatchable and are ignored.
This means that the most effective presentations for targeting cruising bass should run parallel with the fish and into the strike window whenever possible.
This makes a strong case for the simple “cast & straight retrieve” method that so many swimbait enthusiasts swear by. Here’s an example of that working – and again… it’s so simple…
Largemouth Bass Strike Window Size: Hovering Bass
Around the snout (snoot?) of every bass, lies the strike window. Bass can be reasonably sure of a successful attack on prey (or a lure) if it moves into this area.
The size of the strike window varies based on the activity level of the bass.
Inactive bass = tiny window.
Neutral bass = larger window.
Active bass = big window!
Catching bass requires you to move your presentation into this window – or – tempt the bass to move so your presentation is within the danger zone.
With hovering bass, the direction of your presentation is still very important – however, it may not be as important as it is when you’re chasing the cruising bass discussed above.
Largemouth bass can turn sharply, especially from a stationary position. The broad body of a largemouth excels at spinning and twisting to navigate tight, thick cover. Smaller bass can turn even faster than the big girls.
Overall, the movement speed of the bass (from stationary to cruising) combined with the activity level of the bass (inactive, neutral or active) dictate the estimated (I hate that word) strike window at any given moment.
If you can figure this out, it will help you select the best possible presentations so you can maximize your time on the water.
Here’s a Cool Example:
Last year was the first (yes, the first) season where I really tried hard to get better at jerkbait fishing. I wanted to add this option to my arsenal because you can fish a jerk fast, and then pause it to let it sit in (hopefully) the strike window of a bass. If they are active, they can also follow and overtake a jerk – or literally bump their nose into it if you kill it while they are trailing. This often generates a reaction strike.
I had never caught fish on a jerkbait before.
This was my second (and only the fifth fish I caught after starting a fishing vlog).
You better believe results like this will get your attention!
These days jerkbaits are always on hand. What about you? What presentations come to mind when you think of a way to attract specific bass with a specific strike window?
Let me know!
Now, I gotta get back to work so I can get outside with the boys this afternoon for baseball practice. Longer days and warmer weather... sign me up man.
Let's get after it!
Tight Lines & Godspeed, Patriots.
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