As all bass anglers know, crayfish are some of most favorite foods of bass (and many other fish too!), both largemouth and smallmouth. In fact, they are the most favorite food of smallmouth bass. Their shells and pinches do not seem to deter hunting bass - in fact, it seems to entice them more. Crayfish are found just about anywhere there is a population of bass, and are sometimes the staple prey item in the diets of some bass populations. Crayfish are a normal food item for bass, and fishing a crayfish is a surefire way to land a decent fish.
Above: You can catch crayfish in creeks and ponds with homemade traps or by net.
Bass anglers often fish imitations of crayfish - soft plastic lures and jigs, hopping the baits along rocky bottoms to imitate fleeing crayfish. While that method does produce, nothing quite beats fishing a real, live crayfish. Plastic can't exactly copy the living texture and feel of a live crayfish, and shaking your rod can't beat that erratic, fleeing motion. Simply hook the crayfish in the tail with a bait holder hook (the size depends on the size of the crayfish you
If you are a beginner bass angler, struggling to catch his first fish, then live-lining a crayfish or live shiner is your best bet towards catching a first bass. The natural movement and texture of those live baits will negate any problems you have with presenting artificial lures. Catching a first bass is a great confidence booster that will send you onto your journey of being an expert bass fisherman.
Acquiring live crayfish is quite easy. Simply go to your local creek or pond with a net, or you can use traps. You can buy crayfish traps online and at sporting goods stores, but you can also make traps out of chicken wire or plastic bottles. Here are the instructions for one that I use. For bait, I like to use bits of stale meat or cut up bluegill (the crayfish especially love the scent of the blood and guts), but any meat you have on hand can work.
You can also go to a local Asian market and buy crayfish. The ones sold in stores are massive, larger than the ones you catch. A pound is usually $3-4. If you live down South, where crayfish is more commonly consumed, then the price is usually cheaper. If you buy live crayfish at a store, make sure to only buy the most lively and feisty ones. The crayfish endure a lot of stress during shipping, and the more lethargic ones may be half dead.
To store crayfish, simply put them in a bucket with an aerator. Don't crowd them too much, or otherwise they may fight or dirty the water too much. You can also store them in a fridge, wrapped between sheets of wet paper towels. They don't need water to breathe, but their gills must be kept moist.
Aren't all bass the same? What's the difference between a largemouth bass and smallmouth bass? Those are questions that I get a lot from many different people. One of the most important aspects of fishing, not just for bass but for all fish, is understanding your quarry. Both species of bass have their own unique physiology and behavior that, if you can understand, you can exploit to your advantage. These small things can sometimes mean the difference between a day with bass thumb or getting skunked.
Above: Not so much alike....
The most obvious difference between the two species is the mouth. There's a reason why largemouth bass are called "largemouth" and smallmouth bass are called "smallmouth". The jaw of the largemouth bass extends far past the eye, hence the name "largemouth". The jaw of the smallmouth extends to the middle of the eye, hence the name "smallmouth". In the warmer, more fertile waters that largemouth live in, they have a greater range of prey to swallow, and eat on larger, rounder or spinier prey, such as bluegill or catfish. Smallmouth, on the other hand, live in colder, less fertile waters, and have less diversity in their diets. They mostly eat smaller, thinner prey, such as shad, and don't need as large of a mouth to swallow their prey.
The coloration and pattern of the two species is also different. Smallmouth tend to have spotted dark marks across their skin, while largemouth tend to have one solid dark pattern running down their body, but there are always variations. Largemouth also tend to be greenish in color, while smallmouth are usually brownish or a dark yellow.
Habitat is also a way to tell the two species apart. Smallmouth, as mentioned before, live in colder, infertile, faster flowing waters, such as the upper Potomac or the Great Lakes. Most clear, flowing creeks in the US will have a population of smallmouth. Largemouth live in fertile, slow moving, warmer water, such as most farm ponds and town lakes. Of course, there can be a little overlap, especially in larger reservoirs and rivers, with largemouth living in the shallower, calmer waters, and smallmouth living in the deeper or faster flowing sections.
Hi. I am Ian, an extremely avid bass fisherman living in Howard County, MD. I like to bank fish and fish at local ponds and small creeks. I will explore budget friendly options for people to use in this blog. I hope I can teach you something.