SIMILARITIES IN ITALIAN
AND U.S. BASSIN
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Unfortunately, in my life, I haven't had yet the chance to fish waters
outside my of my native Italy. I hope in the near future to fish a couple of tournaments
in the land of black bass, the USA. In my previous article, Italian Bass, you have surely
noted how much alike fishing is for this little green game fish around the world and how
much alike we are in pursuit of our passion. But there are always some differences, big or
little, in the way we approach our fishing for largemouth and there are many things we can
learn from each other. I'm a regular reader of BASSMASTER magazine and others publications
(books and magazines) around the world and I've learned a lot of things about the sport of
bass fishing in USA. For me, sharing our experience is the fastest and easy way to learn
more about the sport. So, I'm here to tell you more about similarities and differences
that I've encountered between what I've read in US magazines and what I've learned in
years of bass fishing in Italian waters.
A BASS IS ALWAYS A BASS
The first thing I've noted about Italian bass and US bass is that, no matter the water you
fish, (USA, Italy, South Africa, Japan and other countries), there is no difference at all
in the behavior of bass. Cold fronts slow down the fish metabolism in Japan as well as in
Italy. On hot sunny days, fish seems to bury in vegetation or in any piece of cover
available in South Africa as well as in Spain. The examples I give you could be infinite
but, in the end, the conclusion is that the bass around the world react in the same way to
events like fishing pressure, high water, cold fronts etc. Applying fishing techniques
I've previously read on the pages of US magazines, I understand that in Italy bass react
in the same manner they react in USA. Just curious, isn't it? In Italy big mouths reach
the ten-pound range only with great difficulty. This is due to the fact that the majority
of bass population is represented by Northern strain, along with some spotted and redeye
bass. The Florida strain, the kind of bass stocked in the western lakes and impoundments
in US, are not stocked in Italy. I think that, thanks to the latitude of Italy, similar to
other US states where this fish is present, the stocking of Florida strain, if ever done,
will be a blessing for the anglers that enjoy bass fishing as much as I do. The first bass
were stocked in Italy at the end of last century, in a northern Italian lake. By now the
bass are present in almost every kind of Italian water. They are still mostly in the north
and central part of the country, but also a few in the southern waters and in the islands
(Sicilia and Sardegna).
Speaking about waters, I note a big difference between US and Italian body of waters. In
Italy we haven't got the big impoundments that are present on the other end of the
Atlantic ocean. Waters like Sam Rayburn and similar, are not found in Italy. However we
have lot of natural lakes, not as big Erie or Ontario but still big enough to host a good
population of large mouths. Lake bass in Italy are not easy to catch, mostly because they
are not as numerous as in other types of water. US magazine articles help Italian bassers
to find and catch these lake fish but it's an hard job all the same. In ponds and rivers
the population of bass grows dramatically. You can easily find largemouth all along
Italian rivers. Ponds and small canals are, without doubt, the best place to look for big
bass (6 - 8 pounders) because of the low fishing pressure and the difficulty fishing this
waters from a boat.
Even though a bass is the same on both sides of the Atlantic, the Italian bass fisherman
does not always fish the same was as in America. The lures are the same, but we use them
differently in Italy.
Flipping: Because of the many obstacles in Italian waters and the love
for plastic lures Italian bassers always show, a short-line technique like flipping is
perhaps the surest and fastest way to fill your live well. Similarities with US flipping
are that the lures are the same American anglers like to use (plastic worms, lizards,
grubs, plastic craws) with the difference that Italian anglers very often flip tube jigs.
Whatever the lure they are fishing with, a remarkable difference between US and Italian
flipping is the weight. In Italy, fisherman use 1/4 oz. as regular flipping weight,
sometimes 3/8 oz. but rarely more. Plastics will be rigged with a 1 oz. bullet weight only
when you fish tidal rivers and the current is very strong were keeping contact with the
structure requires a lot of weight. Jig & Pig in Italy is a less considered lure to
flip but the few "lucky" fishermen that use it generally score big! The biggest
differences between Italian and US flipping are the rod and the line. Italian bassers
generally fish with heavy action 7 to 8 feet spinning outfits. Only rarely will they use
flipping stick. This is because, if you fish along a tree lined bank (a common habitat for
Italian large mouths), the spinning rod will easily present the lure in the roots of the
tree with little effort. Mono line weight range from 12 to 20 pounds. To fish bulrushes
and similar emergent grass, Italian anglers have developed a system to cover quickly and
effectively a lot of water. They use a ten foot customized telescopic rod. This rod has a
lot of backbone and heavy tip action. Both with spinning and bait casting reel, loaded
with 20 pound test mono or braided line can be used with the rods. This rod is very light
(4 - 5 oz.) and allows the bass man to fish a whole three day tournament with almost no
effort. It's amazing how strong this rod is considering it's light weight.
Finesse: Bass fishing with light spinning outfit has a lot of
similarities in the two countries. Most Italian fishermen will use a 5' to 6' spinning rod
with a light reel. But there is a substantial difference in the way each fish. Italian
bassers fish with little 4" worms, 3" grubs and other tiny plastic lures even in
waters that are not properly clear, and they catch lot of fish. The fact is that the
combination light line with a light weight is always deadly for the bass because the lure
has a more natural movement. Some think that in muddy waters bass aren't able to locate
little prey. But we find the large mouth is well equipped to find even a weenie worm
retrieved slowly at mid-water. The common rig among Italian anglers is split shot. Jig
heads from 1/16 oz. to 1/4 oz. are used mostly in winter to fish current waters where bass
are more active. We fish jig heads without weed guard because we find that we loose less
fish with the exposed hook.
Spinnerbaits: There are not many anglers in Italy that fish this metal
and plastic lure with confidence. But those, like me, that wind spinner baits from dawn to
dusk know how productive this lure can be. In the last tournament held here in February,
the biggest bass, a 4 pounder was caught with a spinner bait. There are no substantial
differences between Italian and American spinner baits. But again, while the lures are the
same as you US guys use, the tackle is sometimes different. To pitch the spinner bait
around heavy cover Italian anglers often use a strong spinning tackle. The Italians
believe by using spinning rods, they always obtain an accurate and silent presentation
with underhand casts.
Crankbaits: Like spinner baits, crankbaits are not a hit lure among
Italian bassers. They will use a crankbait, but not very often. Italian anglers rely
mostly on shallow diver models because the majority of them are not structure fishermen.
They tend to fish emergent grass or waters in the 6 feet range. US bassers, because they
are more structure-oriented, use in the right way and with the right tackle the deep and
ultra-deep diver crankbaits.
As you have seen in this article there are not so many differences about the way Italian
and US anglers approach bass fishing, mostly because Italian fishermen have learned to
fish for bass from US magazines, books and videos. Some small differences in tackle or
presentation could represent big differences in catching bass or not. So, I hope the
Italian fisherman can show you something that could help you in the pursuit of your
passion. Bass fishing is a wonderful sport for people who really care about fish and the
environment So, practice catch & release and don't litter. Respect other fishermen.
And remember the future generations that will enjoy the sport as much as we do.
Hope they are all lunkers, Massimo.