Bass are known to be opportunistic feeders, and it’s not uncommon to see them burst up out of the water surface as they attack small insects and other prey that are just at the surface or right below it. Many times, bass jump out of the water like this for a range of reasons, mostly involving their hunting methods of ambushing prey from below.
Many avid anglers know how exciting it can be to see a big bass splash out of the water early in the morning on a placid, serene lake. When you see bass jumping out of the water and taking strikes at prey at the surface in ways that make a noticeable amount of noise, you can bet that they will be looking upward to the water surface to find their next meal.
Topwater fishing is one of the most electrifying styles of approaching bass in an effort to get them to bite. If you’re wondering how you can take advantage of seeing largemouth bass jump and what tactics you can use to land these fish, keep reading.
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Why Bass Jump Out of the Water
You’ve probably seen the captivating footage of great white sharks breaching the surface by several feet as they hunt for and feed on seals in different parts of the world. Largemouth bass hunt for their prey in virtually the same manner in some cases, and the result is often similar as you’ll notice bass launching themselves upward and disappearing back down into the depths.
The main reason why bass jump like this is likely because they are taking advantage of the sun and its position in the sky at certain times of the year, as well as a few other factors.
During the warm months of late spring and early summer, there are typically an abundant number of insects flying around the water in search of their own food and habitat. Bass take notice of this and will wait for a fly or other type of insect to land on the water before striking.
In many cases, bass will also jump out of the water in an effort to free the lure and hook from its mouth as you are trying to reel it in. There’s nothing quite like having a big bass on the end of your line and seeing it swim up to the surface and burst up out of the water as you fight to maintain control over the fish.
This type of jumping might be spectacular to watch, but experienced anglers know that a jumping bass can very easily dislodge the lure if it shakes its head hard enough when it jumps.
There are a few techniques you can use as a bass fisherman to steer the bass back down and keep it under the surface, but this usually requires extensive experience and knowledge of how to deal with a bass. You can’t always prevent a bass from jumping when you’re fighting it, and sometimes you just have to deal with it as something that tends to happen. In most cases, a jumping bass that doesn’t throw the lure out of its mouth is more about luck than tournament level bass fishing know-how.
When Do They Jump?
During the cold winter months, bass will usually retreat down into the depths of whatever body of water they live in to find more comfortable, stable waters that are not as easily affected by the outside temperature. However, bass will move up toward the surface during the warmer months out of the year as the world around them, both underwater and above the surface, comes to life with an abundance of fly species, insects, frogs, and other prey that are what you usually expect to be on the menu for largemouth.
You’ll usually first start seeing bass break the water during the spring when they start moving up in the water column towards more shallow water. Their attention certainly turns more toward the shallow shoreline during the pre-spawn and throughout the spawn, as well as post spawn.
Most young bass will expend their energy trying to catch small prey at the water’s surface, and the majority of bass you see jumping are usually small instead of the large variety.
Bass will feed very heavily at the top depending on what time of day it is. When it’s early in the morning, and the sun still hasn’t peeked over the horizon, you can usually expect to see bass break the surface and jump as they go after a variety of different insects or even small bait fish and shad.
These young fish are usually looking for a fly or other types of bait and you can expect them to be feeding in this part of the water column until it gets fairly bright in the mid-morning.
Can You Catch Bass Jumping Out of The Water?
When bass are seen jumping out of the water, you can be sure that they are feeding aggressively, and there are a variety of different types of baits you can use to take advantage and hook them at this time. If you’re no stranger to bass fishing, you’ve probably had a bass ignite your bait as soon as it hits the water on some occasions.
This usually happens when bass are staging at the upper portion of the water column and waiting for certain types of bait or prey to make contact with the water.
If you do happen to get a bass bite right at the surface, it’s a good idea to wait until it takes the bait back down into the water before you put too much pressure on the fish and attempt to set the hook. Putting pressure on the line too early before the bass gets back down into the water will often result in the hook being pulled free.
This is due to the higher density that water has and the fact that you can rely on water to put more pressure surrounding the lure and helping to keep it in place.
There are also certain types of baits that are better suited for catching bass that will search for prey and are expected to be feeding at or near the surface of the water. See here for our articles on the best topwater lures for bass and the best frogs for bass to get more specific.
How to Catch Bass Jumping Out of the Water
If you hook a bass right at the water’s surface, don’t let your excitement get the best of you. There are certain techniques you can use to steer the fish back down into the water and sometimes keep it from breaching once again.
This method involves keeping your rod tip pointed downward very close to the water as you see the bass come up, strike the bait, and jump. When you see the fish come out of the water, you should try to lower your rod tip as soon as you can. Being able to do this to a fish that you’ve just seen jump in a split second and actually managing to catch it without losing the bass is something that takes a significant amount of concentration and staying calm while you fight your catch.
Some anglers even dip the tip of their rod down into the water just a few inches to get even more leverage on the bass and better turn it back down into the water to prevent it from attempting to jump again. It’s also very important to keep your line as tight as possible when fighting a bass and not allow any slack to develop in the process.
Some bass are more willing to jump out of the water as they are being reeled in than others, and it can be tricky to play these fish back toward you successfully. However, if you keep a tight line and maintain control over the direction of the fish by anticipating where it is headed, you can successfully land most bass that you hook.
Having a longer rod usually helps create even more leverage as well in these circumstances. As you are fighting a bass, it’s crucial that you keep a close eye on your line and where the fish is headed at each passing second. If you see the line start to make a sharp upward turn towards the surface, be ready to quickly lower your rod tip to increase the downward pressure on the fish and make it harder for the bass to jump.
It’s fun to practice this method when you’re catching small bass, but once you have a trophy-sized monster bass on the end of your line, it becomes a heart-pounding and exhilarating experience to be able to maintain control over the fish without losing it.
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How to Make Bass Jump or Come to the Surface
There’s no denying that it’s exciting and fun to see a bass burst out of the water and vigorously shake back and forth as you fight to get it into the boat and land it. Sometimes you might want to make the fish jump just to add to the excitement, especially if you’re fishing with a kid and want them to get a sense for how much fun bass fishing really is.
To do this, simply lift up on your rod tip to effectively pull the fish upward toward the surface. Be aware that you’re going to take a big chance of having the bass free itself from the hook when it jumps, but if you’re not concerned with landing it and just want to show off a bit, this is a proven and effective way to get it up out of the water.
If you’re trying to get bass to come up to the surface and take a strike at your lure, you’ll need to give it some lifelike action, depending on what type of lure you’re using. You can use a popper with the classic ‘pop-pop-sit’ or ‘walk the dog’ techniques to entice a fish that’s lower in the water column to come up for a closer look or even attack.
When using live bait like minnows or shiners, you can rig the hook without a weight to allow it to stay relatively close to the top of the water. This will usually allow you to see a bass come up and strike at the bait, especially at times when they are aggressively feeding and looking for anything that is above them in the water column.
Final Thoughts on Jumping Bass
The sight of a bass jumping up out of the water is one of the most iconic images in the world of bass fishing. It’s something that will surely happen more and more as you get into the sport of bass fishing and can be something that is both exciting and unavoidable at the same time.
By using the techniques and information we’ve outlined in this article, you can better manage any bass that might jump as you’re reeling it in and greatly increase your chances of landing the fish.