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05 Jun

No Boat? Tips for Catching Bass from the Shoreline

Bass Fishing Tips

In the fishing world, everyone wants to get the biggest, fanciest, bass boat imaginable and cover every inch of the lake in style. However, especially in these times, the average person doesn’t have tens of thousands of dollars sitting around to spend on a boat, and financing one just adds another monthly bill to everything else you have to worry about. So, you end up stuck on the banks.

Bank fishing, or fishing from the shoreline, tends to get a bad rap. However, it’s really not a bad experience at all, and at least 75% of the time, you’re not actually missing out on anything by casting from the bank.

If you’re a bit bummed out by the banks, we’re here to help. We’re going to go over some reasons bank fishing actually isn’t bad at all, and then we’re going to do a deep dive into some tips and tricks on fishing for bass without a boat that will help you maximize your chances of landing the big one without leaving the bank.

Let’s get started.

Unexpected Advantages of Bank Fishing

You’d think that fishing from the bank was solely a disadvantage, but that’s simply not true. Sure, boats allow you to access otherwise inaccessible parts of the lake, speed up travel on larger bodies of water, and there are other benefits, but that doesn’t mean they’re always the best.

Here are some advantages you might not have thought about.

1: Easier Bank Access

This one’s such a no-brainer it might sound like a joke, but you’re on the bank from the start. You don’t need to take a boat across the lake and cast to the bank. You’re just there.

If you watch boat fishermen, you’ll notice that 99% of the time, they’re just pulling up a few yards away from the bank and dropping their line in, anyway. They’re rarely in the middle of the lake dropping lures into wide-open water, and that’s for a good reason. There’s a lot more cover near the bank, and that’s where bait fish tend to school up during feeding time.

Boats typically allow anglers to get to parts of the bank that are too covered in foliage to access on foot, and they allow them to fish around structures such as stilt buildings and similar objects, but when you fish from the shoreline, you still have access to the vast majority of the same places boat fishermen are targeting. Better yet, you just walk up to it and start casting. It doesn’t get easier than that.

2: Casting Direction

The whole point of using lures is to imitate bait fish to trick bass into thinking they’re real. Now, it’s not the most difficult thing to do, and bass isn't known for being incredibly smart, but every touch of realism counts.

When fish are moving to the banks to eat or get to shallower water for sunlight, they move in from the deeper sections. They’re coming toward the bank.

Imagine you’re in a boat thirty feet off the bank. To get your lure over there, you’d cast toward the bank and reel it away from it. When you’re on the bank, it’s the opposite. Your lure lands far out toward the middle of the water, and you reel it in toward the bank just like the fish moving in to grab a bite to eat.

This adds a bit of realism to your presentation, and a lot of anglers don’t think about that.

3: It’s Easier to Remain Courteous to Other Fishermen

All of us have been there. So, we know you can relate. Have you ever been fishing from the shoreline, having a great time, and then some guy in a boat that costs more than his car floats right up next to where your line is? Suddenly, the fish stop biting, and he goes about his day to follow them around; ruining every bank angler's experience without a care in the world.

It’s easy to be that annoying guy when you’re in a boat, because either you’re not paying attention, or you think you’re giving everyone plenty of space. On the bank, you have to try to be that annoying guy for it to happen. It’s a lot harder to be an annoyance when the only way for you to do it is to walk right up to someone and start casting all over their claimed spot. Not to mention, most fishermen, you included, like to keep their distance just to avoid conversations that distract from the peaceful experience.

4: Right to the Point

Finally, bank fishing tends to get right to the point. As long as you’re not carrying way too much stuff, you can walk out to the water, tie on a lure, and get to work.

With a boat, you’re going to waste at least fifteen minutes dropping the boat into the water. That’s if there’s not a line at the boat ramp. In that case, you’re going to have to wait on every random boater ahead of you to get out of the way, and unfortunately, many of them have no idea what they’re doing. It’s not uncommon to waste thirty minutes or even an hour or more on a busy day when the ramp is congested.

Tips for Fishing for Bass from the Shoreline

Now that we’ve hopefully hyped up bank fishing a bit and got you out of the dumps over it, it’s time that we dive into the tips and tricks that are going to help you use the banks more effectively and catch more bass without a boat.

Let’s get started.

1: Minimize Your Presence

This is one reason bank fishermen think the banks simply aren’t great for catching fish. Half the time, they scare them off.

When the average casual fisherman goes bank fishing, they stomp their way from the parking area all the way to the very edge of the water, sit their massive tackle box down with a thud, clamber all over the rocks and through the weeds, and then stand there, casting a massive shadow across the water as they cast.

If you were a fish swimming around just a foot away from all that, you’d be pretty horrified, too.

You want to minimize your presence as much as possible.

Start by walking softly as you get closer to the water, be mindful of how you’re setting up, and always stop several yards away from the edge of the water. You’ll have to cast further, and when you do catch a fish, you’ll have to move toward the water to land it without dragging it through the dirt, but this method keeps the fish from getting scared off.

2: Section Off the Water and Keep Moving

Mobility is key in fishing. That’s why you see boats drifting almost nonstop. They’re moving to find the fish. You want to emulate that on land.

This is simple, take a look at the parts of the water you can access, and mentally divide them into sections that you can spend 20 minutes to half an hour at and cover completely. Maybe there’s a cove area you want to start at, a long straight section you can walk down while casting, a couple of inlets, etc.

Start in one area, fish it for a fair amount of time, and if you’re not catching anything, move on to the next section and fish that. This will help keep you on the move instead of falling into the bad habit of just standing in one spot and hoping the fish come to you.

Not to mention, this works some much-needed exercise into your fishing activities, and it’s always great to boost your personal health while having fun.

3: Pack Light

This will help a lot with the mobility factor we just mentioned. How are you going to stay mobile if you’re lugging around a giant tackle box, three rods, a cooler full of drinks and snacks, a radio, and everything else? You can’t. It’s too much.

We recommend setting up a bank fishing backpack. This is just a simple backpack that you’ll organize your must-have bass fishing tackle in, and you can wear it while you walk around. If you need to switch lures, you just have to take the bag off, tie the new lure on, and get back to fishing.

With this method, you’re dramatically lowering the amount of time and effort it takes to move from spot to spot. This makes you more efficient, and it makes it more likely that you’ll feel up to walking around as much as you should. Carrying a bunch of heavy stuff tends to incentivize you to stand still.

Of course, we recommend getting a bag with plenty of organization pockets, but you should also opt for one that has a water bottle holder, and if you can get one with an outside attachment system, such as Molle webbing, you can use that to mount your rod, quick-access gear such as your pliers, etc.

4: Go in with a Plan

This will also help you pack light. You don’t need your whole repertoire on you to catch bass. With a bit of research beforehand, or prior experience, you can determine the exact rod and tackle you need instead of carrying multiples to switch between. If the lake you’re going to is great for topwater, you can bring your topwater rod and give it a try. If it’s better for worms and bottom-hopping plastics, you know which rod to bring.

Not only does this allow you to cut back on the gear you’re carrying around, but it also speeds you up a bit. Since you’re not enticed to sit around switching strategies nonstop, you end up taking a more streamlined and focused approach.

5: Make the Most of Angles

We talked about this earlier, but it goes well beyond simply reeling in toward the shore. While you obviously don’t have a 360-degree field to cast around, you do have a surprising number of angles to leverage to your advantage.

Try making long casts to the left and right toward target locations. This allows you to essentially skim a long stretch of the bank and maximize your chances of attracting a fish in the shallows. This is better than the few brief seconds you get when you reel it straight in from a cast toward the middle.

You can also use this to approach certain obstacles from various angles; allowing you to get better coverage of the obstacle.

For example, let’s say there’s a stump ten yards off the bank. You want to target it. If you just stick to casting along its right side, what happens if a massive bass is off to its left? You’re going to miss it. However, if you shift your position and cast past the left of it, you’ll get your lure right in front of that bass. By simply shifting your position, you can usually target every part of an obstacle and get the most out of it.

6: Start with Docks and Piers

The fish tend to come into the shallows near the banks, but that doesn’t mean every bit of shallow water is equal. Structures, both natural and manmade, are hotspots. They give fish a place to hide or stalk their prey from.

Obviously, logs, patches of long weeds, and similar things are great, but they’re also good for snagging lures or forcing you to constantly clean your lure before recasting. It’s a lot easier, and just as effective, to take advantage of manmade structures.

Fish will frequently hide under piers and docks, and with the right technique, you can easily cast right under those structures to target big bass.

We recommend learning how to dock shoot and flip to take advantage of these spots the easiest, and you should definitely start your fishing trip by checking these easy-to-fish hotspots.

7: Use BassForecast

Regardless of which method you’re using to fish, information is always going to help you become effective.

Luckily, BassForecast gives you all the information you could possibly need in the palm of your hand. If you’re looking to increase your fishing proficiency, whether you’re on the banks or in a boat, download the BassForecast Fishing App, today.

Get More Tips with BassForecast

We hope that you found these tips on fishing for bass without a boat useful and that they inspire you to get out there and catch some fish! With the right techniques, lures, and equipment, catching bass from the shoreline can be just as exciting and rewarding as catching them from a boat. So whether you're a seasoned angler or just starting out, try out these tips and see what you can reel in!