Catching big bass is possible from the bank. And big swimbaits definitely work from the bank. A lot of the well renowned big bass anglers out west catch numerous bass weighing more than 10 pounds fishing smaller bodies of water from the bank.
It all boils down to four simple factors:
- Playing the conditions
- Choosing the right fishing tackle
- Knowing the terrain of the water you will be fishing
- Stalking while on the move
Playing the conditions
The biggest thing that stops guys from being successful with big swimbaits is not throwing them. They will throw them for a few minutes, not get a bite and put it down and go back to throwing smaller lures in hopes of just getting some bites. The biggest thing I've found with swimbaits is there are windows of conditions where the bass show themselves and are more apt to bite. Wind, overcast, sunset, clearer water that is broken up with light penetration are all good scenarios to consider. But on your body of water it is more important to experiment with different times of the day, different weather conditions and you will start to see where those fish become more active where you can reach them from the bank.
That also means playing with your retrieve. You'd be surprised how well a fast retrieve works. But sometimes a slow twitching and pausing works better. And sometimes it changes depending on the conditions. Again it takes some experimenting on your part on the body of water you fish.
Choose the right fishing tackle
I suggest people just starting out throwing big swimbaits use really slow sinks or floaters and fish them fast. The bait stays up near the surface and you can speed up your retrieve to avoid any possible hang ups. As you get more comfortable, you can add in twitches and pauses and try to turn followers into biters. I like a medium-sized swimbait like the Megabass I Slide 185 or a 6-inch Bull Shad because they are a good size for casting from a bank, and in warmer waters, the I Slide will actually slowly rise and come back to the surface. The smaller size of the I Slide 185 and the Bull Shad relative to other larger swimbaits also makes them where you can throw them on smaller rods like a stout MH frog rod or shorter flipping stick.
A giant 8-foot XH swimbait rod can be unwieldy on smaller bodies of water especially if you're having to cast around cover on the bank. I also will use braid a lot from the bank so I can have control over a really big fish and also hopefully get a lure back that contacts cover away from the bank.
Know the terrain
Understand what is under the water where you fish best you can. Are there larger pieces of cover on one spot that are most likely to hold a big bass? Are there deeper stretches that offer a fish quick access from shallow feeding spots to safe deep spots? Are their big feeding flats out in the middle? What is under the water that can potentially hang up your swimbait? Knowing what is around can give you some idea of where to target casts in various conditions for the best opportunity to find big ones from the bank.
Stalk while on the move
Look ahead of you as far as possible as you move up and down a lake. A good pair of polarized sunglasses is a must. I wear Costa Reeftons because they have big lenses making it easier for me to see into the water while walking the banks looking for cover and more importantly fish in the spring that are up cruising. I want to make long casts and work through the areas where I spot fish at various times of the day, and in various weather conditions.
You might have a fish follow your swimbait back and not bite. Pay attention to what is around in that area. Then come back later, or the next morning or the next time the weather is different and stalk up to the spot be stealthy on the approach. A big fish you can see in the water, has likely already seen you but that doesn't mean you can't come back and catch him another time.
Even though you are on the bank, that doesn't mean you want to always cast as far away from the bank as possible. A lot of fish I catch are on the bank I'm standing on and I throw down it parallel before I walk up on the next stretch. So always be on the lookout, stalking around a small lake from the bank to have more success with big swimbaits.