Can you catch big bass from the bank?

Updated: Jan 23

If so, where do you start?...

The short answer is: Yes, you can catch big bass from the bank. I'm primarily a bank angler and have been from the very beginning. With some simple ideas and standards put in to practice, I believe you can maximize your time on the bank and specifically target giants.

There are certainly advantages and disadvantages to bank fishing. For example, when fishing with big baits, I find that fishing from the bank can be incredibly rewarding. You have the ability to plant your feet, get a proper hookset, maintain positioning and grind the fish to the shore. If you're a kayak fisherman, you know that this is not always possible. For instance, if you're not positioned correctly and get an unexpected big strike, the chance of losing the fish is greatly increased due to an improper hookset and the inability to control the fish from the get go. (Of course, this also depends largely on the type/brand of kayak that you're utilizing... I find that sitting down and Big Bait Fishing don't particularly mix, but that's a topic for a different day). However, what you gain in positioning from the bank, you sometimes lack in accessibility: a particular body of water may only have a few open areas to fish from. You're also primarily fishing uphill as you're retrieving the bait to shore. This is not always optimal. I'm getting slightly ahead of myself here. Let me break this down and give you several things to keep in mind in order to have a successful day on the bank and increase your odds of landing a big fish...

1. Planning/Research

There is simply no substitute for ample planning and research. Familiarizing yourself with every aspect of the fishery/body of water that you are thinking of frequenting is paramount to success. If you want to target big bass, you need to target bodies of water where there is a good probability that these bigger fish live. At this point, you may be thinking, "Um... No kidding, but what does that even mean?!"Let me break it down and get into specifics.

Target trout stocked bodies of water. Big bass eat trout. No matter what part of the country you are in, this simple fact holds true. In my particular area, I fish a few different bodies of water with regular trout stocking programs and the quality of the bass and overall frequency of larger bass caught is astonishing. You can literally google "trout stocking NJ (or whatever your applicable state is) and you will find a list of trout stocked along with the schedule for the stocking.

Here is the applicable link for fall trout stocking in NJ:

Here is the applicable link to the master trout stocking page for NJ:

You can also search for trout stocking information on your local county, city or township websites. If you don't have trout stocked bodies of water in your general vicinity, another viable option is to target bodies of water with large Gizzard and Threadfin Shad populations. This requires a bit more research but again, Google is your best friend.

Ideally, you want to find bodies of water that have the perfect storm of coexisting bait options. For instance, if you can find a fishery that has a good ratio of bluegill, golden shiner, crayfish and is also trout stocked you're in business. I've found a few fisheries with an abundance of multiple species of bait and the results have been incredibly fruitful.

Become familiar with the topography and idiosyncrasies of the body of water you want to fish. When you're fishing from the bank, sometimes it's difficult to pinpoint contours, drop offs and general depths. There are several ways to attack this and get a better idea of your surroundings so you're not just mindlessly casting into the ether and hoping for a big bite. Amazingly, the Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries maintains survey maps of a good deal of New Jersey lakes and ponds.

Here is the applicable link for NJ Lake Survey Maps:

If the body of water that you're targeting isn't listed, you can attempt to Google the name of the lake/pond/reservoir you are targeting followed by "survey map," "contour map," or "depth chart." More often than not, the info will be listed. It may take a few minutes of research, but again, this can be crucial to success. Once you've obtained a survey map, use Google Maps "satellite view" to zoom in to make sure there are bank accessible areas to fish from. Try to target drop offs, points, and secondary points that you can cast to from shore. Interestingly, certain survey maps also display 'artificial reef program sites' (like the Assunpink Lake Survey depicted above) and actually show where Christmas tree (and other forms of artificial reef material) have been dumped in the body of water to create sanctuary for fish. This type of information is gold! If you can target these areas from shore you can bet that your chances of hooking into a quality fish are increased. It should also be noted that the popular app, Fishbrain, has contour maps of certain bodies of water as well. This brings me to my next point...