Popularity contests are usually looked upon with distain by the average person. I believe this attitude develops during the trauma of high school for most of us. Being a part of the “in crowd” is at best ephemeral and in the scheme of life not very important. Most of us survive those “wonder” years and move on to other, more important things in life — like fishing.

As with all aspects of popularity, becoming an integral part of something has a lot to do with the pleasure derived from it, and nothing is more popular with the greatest majority of freshwater anglers than the collective world of bass fishing.

According to just about every survey conducted by resource agencies across the United States, largemouth bass are the most popular species of freshwater game fish. That is not to say that other species of fish are less important, they just do not have the numbers of anglers who pursue them. That data leads to the conclusion that largemouth bass reign supreme in the minds and hearts of the greatest majority of anglers.

Why is that? What makes largemouth bass so popular among so many anglers? Let’s take a look at the possible answers.

Largemouth bass can be caught in multiple ways. This endearing characteristic allows them to appeal to a wide variety of anglers young and old. Most kids catch their first bass in a backyard pond using a corked-up minnow for bait. They get to watch the float bounce around on the water and then suddenly disappear under the surface with an audible bloop heralding the event.

The ensuing tug-o-war is high drama for a youngster and a natural progression of wanting to catch more of those black-spotted minnow munchers develops. The next step is learning how to catch them on lures. This is how bass anglers are made.

Once the lure bug is firmly implanted, the universe opens and the methods and means to catch them become nearly as limitless as the stars. Bass will hit just about anything that remotely resembles something to eat or is perceived as a threat to their territory. This allows a wide variety of lures and presentations to be successful. Think of it as going to a restaurant and having a nearly limitless number of dishes to choose from.

Another endearing factor is that bass are also creatures of habit as are humans. Largemouth bass have a tendency to be willing to eat the same things over and over. We like steak, chicken and pork. Bass like minnows, frogs and crayfish.

An angler who likes to chunk lures can stick with a basic menu and feel pretty confident on finding bass that will strike them. But, success can also be had by trying something different when the mood strikes and the odds are good that some bass will be willing to cooperate. This keeps the game fresh and full of potential. Variety can be the spice of life in the bass fishing world too.

Seasonal factors also come into play when fishing for largemouth. Bass move shallow in the spring to spawn. They become more susceptible to anglers then and are more likely to strike a top water lure. This is exciting stuff because there is nothing that causes an over production of adrenaline more than watching a bass engulf a surface lure.

Fishing a top water is visual and more participatory than any other type of fishing. Bass are famous for their aerial displays when hooked in skinny water and are known to leap many times trying to escape. This kind of bass fishing is having cake and eating it, too.

After spawning most bass leave the shallow water areas and become more challenging to find and catch. This trait makes the game more intense and brings advanced skills and knowledge of behavior into play for veteran anglers.

Different techniques are required to catch fish consistently in deeper water. So the challenge and level of competency required increases. These factors motivate anglers who have moved beyond the basics and allow each adventure to be personally unique.

Bass are structure and cover oriented species. Humans are too.

Finding bass means going where they live and knocking on the door so to speak. We do the same thing when we want to visit a friend. This trait makes them easier for anglers to locate. Find a patch of weeds, a boat dock or a fallen tree and more than likely bass will be in residence when they are in their shallow water mode.

This type of fishing readily appeals to beginning bass anglers. Or learn the type of habitat bass prefer when they move to deeper water. Creek channels, submerged brush piles and drop-offs are the domain of large bass and ideally suited for employing advanced fishing techniques.

Other possibilities for their popularity include: They are wide spread geographically; largemouth bass can be found in just about every habitat capable of sustaining them; catching a bass and landing it are two different things, because once hooked, they fight ferociously; they grow to large sizes, over 18 pounds in Texas.

Here are a few more reasons anglers favor them so heavily: Bass are curious which makes them very susceptible to being caught on lures; their strength will test an angler’s tackle and find the weak spots; they ask for no quarter and give none when hooked; the big ones get away most of the time; some very talented anglers make a nice living catching them in tournaments.

These are just some explanations as to why bass are such an important and popular game fish. Feel free to add your own as I am sure there are many others time and space does not permit discussing. Bottom line is fishing for largemouth bass provides thrills, excitement and challenges for a wide variety of anglers unlike any other freshwater species. That is what ultimately makes them No. 1.

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