OK, another bass questions. If you could only use one bait for bass, what would it be? I know there are thousands of ways to get them, but if you were limited to only one for all places and seasons, what would it be?
You can bunch it up on a hook and leave 3 to 4 inches of the tail to wiggle. Use a bigger hook and use a dropper or just a weight 24" to 36" above your hook . A real slow retrieve along the bottom and hold on they smack it. What I have found is that each lake is different. Some like this presentation from shore and some like it from a boat cast back to shore. It works on every lake with Smallmouth if pastics or cranks etc don't work.
All kidding aside (They do work, but no different than swim baits), I would have to go for a plastic worm. Many many ways to rig it to give it varying actions. One way I personally like is a weightless, texas rigged straight worm (no curly tail), that worked through some cover. Sinks really slow, so you can have a slow presentation, or, if you can get the action right, you can dart it across the surface, like a Zara Spook.
For Lake Samm and Lake WA bass, when using nightcrawlers or worms from shore, I have found them to be a bit different on the bite.
Cast and retrieve slowly as mentioned above. Or, you can inflate the worm with some air and still fish it.
The bite, for me anyways when using live worms, is sudden tension of your line, followed by a strong steady pull. Almost like the bass just picked up the worm and is swimming away not knowing that he's hooked. It's rarely been a tap-tap-tap type of bite like with trout or bass when using other types of baits or lures.
**Edit: this strong steady pull for a bite is with the bigger bass. The smaller bass do peck away at it (tap-tap-tap) like other fish bites.
My go to is always a 4" senko stick bait in olive color with black or red flake rigged weedless with a 2/0 EWG hook Tup: , otherwise you can't beat a top water popper in frog pattern, a couple hard pops and it is take down time Tup:
We talking survival? In that case I'd say a live minnow. Used 'em in Wyoming once and they outproduced other lures about 10 to 1.
If we're talking about techniques within the scope of washington state laws, then I must say I have absolute confidence in quarter ounce jigs with grub trailers. They catch smallies, largies, and fatties. I'd take em over a live nightcrawler any day of the month besides May 11.
This one was caught in June in Big Lake in Skagit County, 4,5# hit a plastic craw like lizard-Wolly Booger I think. I have caught them in Bama in winter months, but alot different up here. I usually dont start fishing them up here till April.