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Media Review By Dave Votaw


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The Fly Fish Ohio library’s most recent acquisition, BASS! by Dick Sternberg, is only marginally relevant to the fly fisherman, but is an attractive and easy to read introduction to largemouth bass fishing.  Shady Oak Press describes the book as “… a complete guide to catching North America’s favorite gamefish,” and I would have to agree.  While the author is unknown to this reviewer, and little biographical information is provided in the book, he has a thorough knowledge of the subject, and presents a basic, complete introduction to largemouth bass fishing.  BASS! is a book targeted to the new or less-experienced fisherman interested in what arguably is North America’s favorite gamefish.


Opening BASS! for the first time, the reader will be impressed with the crisp quality photographs and illustrations of fish, baits, and habitat.  Scanning the table of contents quickly demonstrates that this is 150 pages of largemouth bass fishing from A to (almost) Z.  Following the lead of well-known organizations that teach fishing, such as In-Fisherman, BASS! uses the well-known formula approach to locating and catching largemouth bass:  learn some basic biology of the species, locate the fish at that season, apply the appropriate presentation, and success will follow.  All these critical areas – biology, location, and presentation – are reviewed in BASS!, including discussions on habitat (even rivers), gear from rods and reels to boats, and every fisherman’s favorite topic – lures.


Over 50 pages are devoted to the subject of lures and baits:  soft plastics, spinnerbaits, topwaters, crankbaits, jigs, flies, and live bait.  These section by section presentations are well organized and handy.  Discussion of the characteristics of bait with photographs is succinctly handled on a single page.  Turn that page and the reader gets rigging information with illustrations, instructions on how to fish the bait, and recommended tackle – rods, reels, and line – to properly present the bait.  Turn the page again and you’re on to the next lure with the same progression of colorful and attractively presented information.  This extensive review of largemouth lures and baits combines a nice mix of traditional applications – jitterbug, Johnson silver minnow, for example – with more contemporary developments – soft plastics and suspending stick baits so popular with tournament pros.


Live bait is discussed as well, a relevant and appropriate topic for this type of book since most of us learned to fish with bait under a float as a kid, but Sternberg’s selection of live baits is odd:  frogs, salamanders, spring lizards?  In all my years dunking bait, none of those critters ever graced my hook.  More appropriate for beginners, big fat night crawlers are the live bait of choice, and yet the author has left them out of the discussion.  Perhaps worms are considered too obvious.


The major disappointment I have with this book is an opportunity lost by the author to champion conservation issues; nowhere in BASS! do the words ‘catch and release’ appear.  The audience for this book is primarily novice fishermen.  A book introducing new fishermen to the sport should at least mention the importance of conservation of the species along with habitat preservation.  On the author’s behalf, he does note that catching males off the spawning beds is “frowned upon by most of the bass fishing community” because of the potential for nest predation by smaller fish.  Having pointed out this inappropriate method, Sternberg then provides tips for where and when to look for bedding fish and how to catch them!


For fishermen new to the largemouth game, this attractive soft cover text get you up to speed in a hurry and is definitely worth the time to read cover to cover.  For old hands, BASS! may not tell you anything you don’t already know, but still is an inexpensive, enjoyable leisure-time read that might trigger some pleasant memories or overlooked techniques.


BASS! is available from Shady Oak Press for $14.95.  ISBN:  978-1-58159-318-1.

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