Why Do Bass Jump Out Of The Water?


When you are out fishing early morning, or later in the afternoon, you might see bass, or other fish jumping out of the water or breaking the surface, especially if you see a lot of bugs flying around. You might also notice this when you have set the hook on the bass and they jump way out of the water and spit the bait out and you lose them, but why are they doing it? We are going to take a few moments to help explain why this might be happening, how you can possibly catch them, and how to keep from losing a bass if you do hook one and it breaks the water.

Why do bass jump out of the water? Bass will normally be seen breaking the surface of the water or “jumping” for one of two reasons. The first is because there is something they want to eat sitting on, or just below the surface that you cannot see. The second reason is that they have been hooked and you have brought them up to the surface because the tip of your rod is up, and they are trying to shake the hook out of their mouth to getaway. If you have landed a bass, and it breaks the water, it is most likely because you brought them to the surface, not because they wanted to be there. Keep the tip of your rod down after you set the hook, and it will usually keep the bass under the water and they will be less likely to shake the hook and getaway.

When Do Bass Jump?

Typically, bass will jump out of the water early in the morning, and later in the afternoon around dusk. This is because most bugs feed on the water in the early morning as the sun is coming up, and again right at dusk before the sun goes down. This is most common in smaller lakes and ponds where you can see the insects flying around just above the surface of the water. The other reason is that shad, the fish they normally like to feed off of, will also be around the surface of the water at these times trying to feed on smaller bugs that are landing. It is important to understand whether the bass is eating the bugs, or if they are eating the shad that are going after the bugs because that will determine what kind of bait you need to throw.

Can I Make Them Jump?

Bass do not just jump out of the water because they want some fresh air, they jump out of the water because they are attacking something and coming from the bottom up to the surface at a very fast rate. The reason they jump is that they cannot stop themselves before they hit the surface. If you see the bass start to you can change your rig setup to topwater. You can use frogs, poppers, mice, and many other things that can make them come to the surface to feed. The faster you reel in, the more you might see them jumping and missing your bait. You might actually try throwing something that is not topwater and sits just below the surface and they will still jump.

Can I Catch Them?

It is very possible to catch a jumping bass, as long as you know what they are wanting to feed on. If you see them feeding on bugs, the only way you might be able to get them to eat your bait is to throw a fly out. If you see shad boiling on the water, you will want to throw a swimbait or a plastic shad. You will want to throw your bait out past where you are seeing the boils so you do not scare the fish, and then pull your bait through the boil to see if you can get them to bite. You might have to do this several times before you actually get a bit, so do not give up. If you have just had no luck with that technique, you can switch to having your bait sit lower in the water, so they will see it while it is falling, and will want to take it.

Do Other Fish Jump Out Of The Water?

Depending on where you are fishing, there might be more than just bass jumping out of the water to feed. I have seen trout, bass, catfish, and other types of fish jumping out of the water. Trout love to feed on bugs, so if you see this happening at a well-known trout lake, this is probably what you are seeing. Sometimes, it can be tough to know what is actually breaking the surface unless you are very close to where it jumped. Bass have bigger mouths, so you will see a larger hole and splash made when they are feeding. Sometimes you might only see them roll out of the water, which is typically what trout and catfish like to do.

They Won’t Bite!

If you find yourself tossing everything you have and still not getting a bite, Then it might be time to switch up and use a bottom style bait, especially if the water is less than 15 feet deep and somewhat clear. There are times when bass just does not want to take topwater lures, so you can do a couple of things here. First, change the way you are bringing in the bait. Do smaller tugs on your line, or reel in a little bit slower so the bass thinks your bait is injured. You can do a more erratic jerking motion so that it looks like your bait is struggling. If that doesn’t work, you can reel in, and let it sit for a few seconds before moving your line. This will make the bass think that it can actually get your bait. Keep in mind that bass is also going to make sure that it will not get hurt if it goes after the bait, so the more you make it look like its an easy target, the more likely it will want to eat your bait.

Do Bass Like All Bugs?

Bass, and other fish love bugs, and many different types of them. They will normally eat anything that they can sink their teeth into as long as it is a bug that is found in their habitat. If you find yourself throwing bugs, or flies and they just are not biting, make sure it is something that they normally know and recognize. While you might get lucky with a hungry bass, they will typically not try and eat something new to them, so stick with the basics. Always scout the scene as you are walking to your fishing spot to see what types of bugs and insects are flying around and use that. Bass are predator fish, so they will eat almost anything that is smaller than them.

Other Things Bass Eat That Float

One thing you might see is that bass does not always eat bugs that are floating. Bass love to eat things like mice, frogs, snakes, and lizards that are swimming or just hanging out in cattails. I have seen bass eat things like that and also have seen large bass go after baby and grown ducks. It is a good idea to have an arsenal of different topwater bait even if you don’t think it will work. You might not think that a lure that looks like a white or brown mouse will work, but I have tested all sorts of topwater baits, and have had a lot of success.

Should I Fly Fish For Bass?

Fly fishing for bass is a great way to land some big bass on topwater. If you know that the bass is feeding on bugs, and can get your fly out there, you will most likely have good luck. Try to get your fly to match exactly what you see buzzing the water and you should be okay. Fly fishing for bass has become extremely popular in smaller lakes and ponds because of their feeding patterns.

Final Thoughts

Bass will jump out of the water for several reasons, and it is not always because they want to feed on bugs. Always scout the area to see what they might be wanting to eat before you throw a bait out, and watch to make sure that they are actually eating stuff on the top of the water or just under the surface where baitfish like to collect. Shad will make a rippling effect on the water so if you see that change up your bait. If you do hook a fish, keep the tip of your rod pointed at the water, and you will be less likely to have a bass shake the hook.

Terry Minton

I am the owner of Fast Cast Rods. I live in the mountains of Northern California where I love to be outdoors hunting, fishing, camping and hiking with my wife and three awesome kids.

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