Bass fishing is the most popular type of recreational and professional angling in the United States, and many anglers consider it a professional sport. You can find bass fishing tournaments playing on ESPN, and there are Bass Pro Shops located all across North America. But what makes the sport so popular?
One of the reasons why bass fishing is so popular is that bass fish are plentiful. They are found in many types of water and genetically diverse. Most species of bass are also aggressive, making them fun to catch. Anglers can challenge themselves when catching bass, and they can even win prizes.
This article will explore the primary reasons why bass fishing has become a major international sport. After reviewing some of the trends that have helped make bass fishing what it is today, you may feel inspired to pick up your rod and head out to your nearest stream, lake, or creek. Let’s begin!
One of the most significant reasons why bass fishing is so popular is availability. While other species might be in decline, bass are flourishing. Anglers can find multiple species of bass all across North America and the world.
Bass fish are far more widespread today than they were a century ago. This might seem like a strange trend, especially when you consider how many anglers keep the bass they catch.
The massive popularity of bass fish hasn’t negatively impacted the survival of common bass species. Instead, it’s acted as a protective force, spurring many to embrace bass farming.
Nowadays, property owners and wildlife advocates can stock local rivers, lakes, and streams with thousands of juvenile bass each year. There are many species of bass, and several are endemic to North America’s extensive river systems.
Fortunately, anglers can find bass living in all kinds of aquatic environments, from still lakes and quiet streams to fast-flowing rivers and salty ocean waters.
Ease of Access
Some species of fish are challenging to locate, let alone catch. The Atlantic blue marlin, for example, is often found far from the shoreline and is powerful enough to drag a small fishing boat along behind it. Catching one typically requires a strong ship and a crew of anglers.
Traveling the world for the chance to catch an elusive fish can be expensive. Additionally, anglers aren’t guaranteed to find anything, which can make for a frustrating expedition.
Bass fish, on the other hand, are exceptionally accessible. You can find them in nearly any body of water, including:
As you can see, bass live in a wide variety of environments and conditions. While many anglers assume that bass are strictly freshwater fish, a few species live in brackish tributaries or saltwater shores. Consequently, you can fish for bass nearly everywhere.
Freshwater bass tend to be the most popular among North American anglers. Both largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) and smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) are common to North American streams, lakes, and rivers, and these species are traditionally freshwater fish.
Anglers living in the United States or Canada might live near several fishing holes or recreational fishing areas, making it easy to access bass. Those who already own a solid rod and set of lures can enjoy multiple fishing trips without spending a ton of money on transportation, bait, or extra gear.
Largemouth bass have also been found in brackish waters, which isn’t entirely surprising when considering their eating habits. Like the smallmouth variety, largemouth bass tend to lurk in shadowy, hidden areas.
When a smaller fish comes along, they ‘jump’ out from their hiding spot and gobble-up some dinner. Brackish waters are often murky and dark, lending them well to larger bass species that have outgrown smaller freshwater streams.
As with freshwater fishing spots, brackish waters are plentiful around the coastal areas of North America. Those living far inland might need to spend more on transportation to reach high-quality brackish fishing areas.
Still, nearly half of the US population lives close to the ocean, making brackish bass an accessible catch for millions.
A handful of bass prefer saltwater environments. North American anglers may gravitate toward saltwater bass species when hoping to catch larger specimens. Many saltwater varieties aren’t true basses, despite their name.
The beloved Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides), better known as the Chilean sea bass, is one such fish. Still, instead of taking a boat out onto choppy ocean waters, many choose to cast their poles from the shore, especially around rocky coastlines where striped bass (Morone saxatilis) populations are typically present.
Another reason why bass fishing is popular is the variety of bass that’s available. There are quite a few types of bass, though there are only three real families of bass fish. Still, anglers could spend decades perfecting their bass catching skills as they learn more about each specific species.
The majority of professional bass anglers tend to go for basses that belong in the three true bass families. Black basses are the most popular family, and they include the largemouth and smallmouth bass varieties.
The largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass (Micropterus punctulatus) belong to this grouping. These are the most prevalent and widespread species of bass. Black basses are primarily freshwater fish, though the largemouth bass has been known to frequent brackish waters.
Temperate basses are far more saltwater-friendly, though the white bass (Morone chrysops) is known for its freshwater locations. Once native only to salty coastal regions, the striped bass is now a common freshwater find, thanks to extensive fish farming efforts.
Only the most dedicated bass anglers can boast about catching Asian basses. That’s because these fish are only found near the coastal regions of Japan and South Korea.
The Japanese sea bass (Lateolabrax japonicus) is one of the most popular Asian basses due to its mild flavor. Anglers who enjoy preparing and eating their catches might want to plan a trip to Japan just to catch and try this unique bass species.
Other Types of Bass
Those hoping to reel in more exotic bass might opt for one of the other species. While these fish aren’t always a part of the Perciformes order, some anglers still consider them to belong to the bass family.
The most popular alternative bass species include:
- Australian bass (Macquaria novemaculeata)
- Black sea bass (Centropristis striata)
- Chilean sea bass (Dissostichus eleginoides)
- Giant sea bass (Stereolepis gigas)
- Peacock bass (Cichla ocellaris)
After mastering black, temperate, and Asian basses, anglers may attempt to catch these more novel species. The peacock bass, native to the Amazon River and its many branching streams, is a trendy game fish that can also be found in Florida’s southernmost regions.
Consequently, even some of the non-traditional species of bass are accessible to North American anglers, adding even more to their popularity!
People who like to fish are different from those who do it professionally. Typically, the primary difference between these two groups is the level of technical skill.
Folks who prefer to grab their fishing pole for some backyard fishing might have a wealth of experience and knowledge about local fishing holes and species. Still, they may not be familiar with a wide variety of lure, baits, and fishing techniques.
A lack of experience with a wide variety of fish can make it challenging to become a more capable angler. Those who fear consistent failure (as in not catching any fish) might give up fishing altogether, but beginners and experts alike can enjoy bass fishing.
That’s because bass are found pretty much everywhere, and they go after almost any type of bait. You don’t need a decade of fishing stories to catch largemouth bass. You just need a hook, a strong fishing line, a flexible rod, and a tasty worm or shiny lure.
It’s challenging to think of other recreational activities and sports that offer the same opportunities for both beginners and professionals. Not only can anglers of all skill levels catch bass, but they can also learn while they fish.
There is no way to get into bass fishing without learning a few things. Because bass come in several sizes and varieties, anglers tend to use different gear types to catch specific bass species. They also study their preferred game fish’s appearance, native habitats, range, and dietary habits.
This ensures that anglers know the best type of bait and lure to use when fishing for bass. It also helps them choose the most capable rod and line and pick a good location for bass fishing.
You can start your fishing journey as a know-nothing beginner, but after spending a year bass fishing, you might have the same skills and knowledge as an intermediate-level angler. It’s easy to see why this expedited learning curve appeals to many, but some anglers might be more intrigued by the physical and mental challenges bass fishing offers.
Exciting Physical and Mental Challenges
Yet, another reason for bass fishing’s exceptional popularity is the challenge it provides. While it’s not uncommon to find novice anglers fishing for bass, it’s also not challenging to find a professional bass angler struggling to reel in a feisty fish.
Bass are known for their aggressive behaviors, and they’re often prized for them. While some fish don’t put up a fight after getting hooked, the bass almost always makes a splash. Bass also tend to hide when searching for prey, making it difficult to cast a line in their direction.
The combination of physical and mental challenges that bass anglers encounter makes bass fish a more popular choice. After all, it’s far better to improve your fishing skills by fishing for bass than to target easier, smaller fish.
The largest freshwater largemouth bass ever caught weighed more than 22lbs (10kgs)! When you consider how strong and aggressive this species is, the feat becomes even more unimaginable. Anglers hoping to reel in larger types of bass fish will need robust and flexible fishing rods and plenty of upper arm strength.
Also, anglers may need to wait a while before they feel a bite. You could spend hours standing, sitting, and patiently remaining focused and alert while fishing for bass. Even those with a high-strength fishing line and a powerful reel can feel a little sore after catching some bass.
One of the most significant mental challenges anglers face is patience. Casting the perfect line and feeling the tug of a hungry bass takes skill, practice, and a little bit of luck.
Those who aren’t willing to suss-out the fishing conditions, identify potential bass hiding spots, and practice their casts may not enjoy bass fishing. Fortunately, most anglers are prepared to spend an entire day out on the water when looking for bass.
More often than not, this attitude is rewarded, but those looking for more tangible rewards can also find themselves gravitating toward bass fishing. After all, bass fishing tournaments are more plentiful and advantageous than ever before.
Tournament Prestige and Prizes
Bass fishing’s popularity has allowed for some genuinely enormous competitive events. You can find professional and novice bass fishing tournaments throughout the United States, and many offer substantial prizes.
Sports enthusiasts who may have never developed an interest in fishing are now learning how to catch bass, thanks to these high-paying tournaments. Anglers of all skill levels can find regional and national contests, and this massive availability and accessibility may encourage more people to take up the sport.
Naturally, payouts and prizes vary from tournament to tournament, but even smaller regional competitions tend to offer competitive monetary rewards. Even smaller regional competitions offer bonuses that reach into the triple and quadruple digits. Others provide high-quality fishing gear to contest winners.
The most high-profile national competitions are even more illustrious. Anglers who consistently participate and place in these tournaments can acquire millions of dollars in prize money.
Therefore, bass fishing isn’t only a fun activity or a competitive sport. It can also be a career choice, and that makes it a popular option for anglers.
Lastly, many people decide to fish for bass to feel a greater sense of accomplishment. The pervasive popularity of bass species ensures that anglers who catch prize-winning specimens feel proud of themselves and their hard work.
Likewise, beginners can experience an increase in self-esteem after improving their bass fishing skills. Largemouth and smallmouth varieties are standard sports trophies, though keeping your catches isn’t the only way to celebrate your bass fishing accomplishments. Some anglers fish for bass because it provides an opportunity to spend time with friends, make lasting memories, and share fun stories.
Bass fishing’s popularity likely won’t wane any time soon, and some anglers become professionals in bass fishing because there’s a massive market in teaching specific bass fishing techniques and skills. These folks can earn a decent living by sharing their knowledge.
Each route provides a clear path toward a better sense of self-confidence and well-earned pride, two things that may be lacking in many people’s lives. Bass fishing isn’t a born talent but a cultivated skill.
It’s natural for anglers to feel pleased with themselves after mastering complicated techniques. The potential for improved self-esteem is one of the least-mentioned but often-felt reasons for bass fishing’s continued popularity.
Anglers aren’t often afraid to mount their best catches, but many don’t keep the bass they reel in. Returning juveniles or smaller adults to the water is a conscientious effort to keep future bass populations high and ensure other anglers have a chance to catch some fish.
Keeping a photobook of your most notable catches and fishing trips is a popular alternative to mounting every caught bass. Some individuals may even habitually show their fishing photos to family, friends, and visitors.
Anglers can enjoy a renewed sense of accomplishment each time they flip through these pictures. They might even recall some juicy or laugh-worthy fishing stories to share with others.
Anglers who enjoy teaching might fish for bass because of the educational opportunities. Bass fishing lessons and expeditions are extremely popular among beginner and intermediate-level anglers, and individuals with plenty of bass fishing experience can lead the way.
Retired anglers or those who own a fishing boat might want to consider this option. Not only does it give you a great excuse to go fishing more regularly, but providing bass fishing lessons could also be a lucrative opportunity.
Besides, sharing your skills and knowledge can help you to feel more confident in your abilities and satisfied with your impact on the world around you.
Whether you’re a beginner or a professional angler, there’s a bass species fit for your skill level and preferences. You can find bass fish throughout the world, and many are native to North America. You can find bass in streams, lakes, and rivers, and oceans.
Catching bass can be a ton of fun, thanks to the aggressive nature of many bass species, and improving your bass fishing skills can fill you with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Some anglers may even earn prize money after competing in bass fishing tournaments. It’s no wonder why bass fishing is so popular!
- Bass Pro Shops: All Bass Pro Shops Locations | Sporting Goods & Outdoor Stores
- Farmer’s Weekly Magazine: Bass: an easy-to-breed alternative in aquaculture
- Field & Stream: The 11 All-Time Biggest Largemouth Bass
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: What percentage of the American population lives near the coast?
- Sapling: How Much Money Does a Professional Tournament Fisherman Make?
- Wikipedia: Bass (fish)
- Wikipedia: Cichla ocellaris
- Wikipedia: Japanese sea bass
- Wikipedia: Largemouth bass
- Wikipedia: Patagonian toothfish
- Wikipedia: Perciformes
- Wikipedia: Smallmouth bass
- Wikipedia: Spotted bass
- Wikipedia: Striped bass
- Wikipedia: White bass
- Stratfor: The North American River System