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Bass Feeding Strategies
Greg Myers


Bass are generalist feeders. The bass uses one or more of four basic feeding strategies depending on their activity level and the size, availability, and type of prey. The four basic feeding strategies are:
(1.) running down food
(2.) stalking
(3.) habituation
(4.) ambush

Inactive bass will retreat to cover and feed by ambush, if it feeds at all. More active bass may hold near cover and close to potential prey, using the habituation tactic. If the prey gets close enough or appears disabled, the bass will usually strike. This tactic, like the ambush tactic, is passive and usually won’t provide a full day’s ration, but it doesn’t require much effort from the bass.

The most important feeding tactic of active bass is to stalk prey by swimming near cover in small groups, stopping periodically to check for vulnerable prey. They also cruise open water near cover to flush prey. By swimming aggressively near cover, bass startle prey into making mistakes. Bass then swiftly attack the fleeing prey.

In reservoirs, bass use the run-down tactic to capture shad from below by pinning the school of shad on the surface. This tactic is primarily used by 1 to 2 pound “school” bass. Although bass aren’t built for sustained chases, the feeding frenzies of “schoolies” represent this tactic.

These feeding strategies apply to our fishing. Inactive bass aren’t feeding, but might launch an attack from ambush or habituation. Put a lure that looks easy to catch, like a worm or a jig, in front of them and they may strike.

Stalking bass actively seeking food above or near cover should hit a rapidly moving presentation. The schooling bass are more vulnerable to active shad imitations.

Anglers face inactive or neutral bass more often than active bass. When bass are actively feeding, fishing’s great. Much of the time, though, precise presentations are necessary for bass in an inactive feeding mood.