Words & Phrases every serious bass angler must know

The great sport of bass tournament fishing is growing fast. With all the new fishermen and fisherwomen joining our ranks, I felt it my duty to put out this list, incomplete as it may be (by the time you read this another dozen or so will have been invented by enterprising individuals), to help your adjustment to the confusing, complex world of competitive fishing jargon. These words and phrases were “culled” (heh! heh!) from conversations with long-time members covering the broad range of topics affecting today’s compleat angler. Where more than one possible definition exists, I have displayed them to avoid any ugly misunderstandings. Some of them are presented here in a totally random and meaningless order.

Many a great angler has gone bad after too many days of too many rookies strikes!
Many a great angler has gone bad after too many days of too many rookies strikes!

STRIKE: Word used commonly, most often by rookies; example – rookie yanks rod back violently with no prior warning sending his hat into the lake and his lure (usually a very heavy jig or rattle bait) careening off of his partner’s bass fishing humor article strike from the fishing dictionary while saying “Son!! I think I just had a STRIKE!!”

FLIPPIN’: 1. In draw tournaments, a coin toss done when a boater draws a boater; 2. what happens to rookie after partner recovers from STRIKE (see STRIKE); 3. Special, short-distance casting technique used when extreme accuracy is needed…very effective when trying to show your Significant Other how well you can drop a lure into a coffee cup from across your living room!

BASS CLUB: 1. Group of bass fishermen with some type of silly name like – Bingo City Bass Flailers or Hoboken Bass Whackers; 2. Large stick used to subdue bass in the old days when 20 pounders were as common as bark on trees B now-a-days more commonly called the Arookie@ club (see STRIKE)

JITTERBUG: Movements around the boat made by a fisherman who’s just been the victim of a rookie’s strike.

TWITCHIN’: Rapid flinch most seasoned anglers develop after a day in the boat with a rookie.

JERKIN’: Similar to twitchin’ but more serious, usually the result of many days with a rookie.

OAT BRAN MUFFINS: 1. ‘Food’ for the modern, health-conscience angler, replacing the vienny sausage; 2. Muffin made of heavy, bread-like substance with consistency of course sawdust – makes an excellent carp bait when wetted and rolled in balls (also can be used as a defensive weapon against personal watercraft or rookies).

SLOW ROLLIN’: Thing done in bottom of boat after eatin’ bad viennies or too many oat bran muffins (also see KNEEL-AND-REEL).

INFISHERMAN: Angler who’s a snappy dresser and knows all the happening hangouts.

SHALLOW: 1) Where all the bass are all the time if you ask most real anglers; 2) What your mother-in-law thinks of you and your fishin.’

DEEP: Relative term – in the south – anytime you can’t see bottom, or reach it with the tip of your flippin’ stick; in the north, any water routinely visited by tuna-trolleys (the ones that aren’t stuck).

GEORGE PERRY: Man famous for catching the present world record largemouth bass; He did not cash in big directly on the great fish because he and his brother, William, ate it. Due to the great size of the bass, William put on enough weight that he was able to make a fortune with the NFL Chicago Bears on the offensive line playing as the “Refrigerator”

NO-WAKE: 1. The problem my partners all claim I have at 3:30 AM tournament morning; 2. Common sign seen in fishing areas, especially those with many houses in close proximity, used to keep anglers quiet when we start our tournament at 6 AM; 3. A NO-WAKE sign indicates areas the rider can take a nap or eat a sandwich, and TUNA-BOATS should run full speed.

Tuna captains can be really friendly, often waving as they send their six-foot wakes slamming into your fishing boat at close range.
Tuna captains can be really friendly, often waving as they send their six-foot wakes slamming into your fishing boat at close range.

TUNA-TROLLEY/-BOAT: Any boat that’s not a bass boat, especially if filled with big guys wearing t-shirts that don’t quite cover their bellies (though they may be disguised as well-to-do ‘captains’ too).

KNEEL-AND-REEL: Common illness among bass anglers the first few times they make the mistake of going on a tuna-boat after eating breakfast at the local Eatery.

FISH FORMULA: Baby bass food.

BOAT RAMP: Cheap entertainment!

B.A.S.S.: Bass Anglers Sportsmans Society, (but really stands for Bass Are Smarter than Salmon)

THERMOCLINE: New, space-age material used in high quality insulated underwear.

HOT’N’TOT: Ancient man thought to be world’s first angler…chased the now extinct Sumerian bass.

COLD FRONT: The universal excuse reason created to explain why we didn’t catch any bass on a particular day.

CATCH-AND-RELEASE: This is either an extremely successful method of promoting fish conservation, or the best excuse ever created for the angler who always comes home empty handed…also known as the “I didn’t catch any big ones” method.

PATTERN WOULDN’T PLAY: Phrase uttered at the end of an unsuccessful day (instead of just throwing hands up in the air and admitting you didn’t have the faintest idea where the bass were or what they were doing).

WEEDLINE: Also referred to as the grassline. Becomes a problem when over 12 inches tall.

GRASS: The green stuff in your front yard that always needs mowing about the time the Bassmaster shows starts.

“…big as a whale! Honest!”

WALKING THE DOG: What your wife always says you should be doing about the time Orlando Wilson comes on the tube.

WHOPPER: The type of story anglers tell each other after the weigh in.


FISHERMAN’S UNIVERSAL GESTURE: (No, not the one you reserve for personal watercraft), hands held at shoulder level about three feet apart while saying – “She was the biggest bass I ever seen!”



WIGGLE WART: I don’t know where this one came from for sure. I think it’s some type of medical term adapted to fishing or what your little brother acts like when he’s in a small, easily-tipped boat

STILL-FISHING: What a good tournament angler is doing 3 minutes before the end of the tournament.

SALMON & TROUT: I think it’s the name of some kind of hoity-toity angler’s magazine. Real bass anglers don’t even know how to spell these two words. (I had to use spellchecker.)

A 'green-backed trout (I think).
A ‘green-backed trout (I think).

FLY-FISHING: Using bugs to catch fish (instead of squashing them). Most commonly used to catch trout. (Yes, these guys actually try to catch trout on purpose! WHOWEE! What nerds!)

TROUT: Excellent bass forage, soft and slender – goes down easy.

TROUT UNLIMITED: A group of persons who want there to be ample amounts of this great bass food – I’m all for it!

SINKER: A bass boat brand that never really caught on.

SMELLY JELLY: Any multi-colored, unidentifiable food object found in your cooler several months after last being used.

MONKEY PICKLE: Tournament slang for bananas. Bananas are BAD luck in a tournament bass boat. According to several BIG-TIME bass anglers, if you bring a MONKEY PICKLE into the boat, terrible things will happen. You’ll forget your net; Your best graphite rod will get smashed under the rod box lid; Your trolling motor cable will snap; You’ll put a piston rod through an engine cylinder (50 miles from the boat ramp, 10 miles from shore); Your partner will snag a 5/0 tube jig hook through your ear; You’ll hopelessly backlash your best reel on the first cast, tying yourself to the butt seat pole (I’ve seen this, it’s not pretty); After you’ve accidentally stepped into the open livewell soaking one leg; And still you’ll get by all this and hook a 6 pound smallie only to have your line break when it somehow gets wrapped around the tube jig stuck in your ear…and that’s just in the first hour.

BASSMASTER: Legendary fishing guy who used a magical fishing rod to get bass to do his bidding (I think he was from Michigan). 20th Century Fox bid to film his story but decided a guy in bright orange coveralls covered with patches couldn’t be made sexy. Gave him a loin clothe and sword whence he became BEASTMASTER! It flopped anyway. (Moviegoers may have been uncomfortable with an unclear relationship between him and his orangutan.)

BONUS WORD SECTION (for your general personal improvement):

BRAGGADOCIO: Character in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. (Or was it Macbeth?)

EGO: A majestic bird – as in “look, up in the sky – it’s an EGO.”

Well, there you have it. This is just a partial list. Since I feel education is so important, I will print more lists as time and space allow.

Next time – Are Oat Bran Muffins really all they’re cracked up to be? The hard, solid truth!

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