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I'm a novice who fishes for largemouth bass on lakes in Frontenac County, Ontario. I use a worm, large single-hook, and a large round red/white bobber from a dock.

Unfortunately, even with the large hook, I end up catching lots of small panfish. I would prefer to avoid catching panfish unnecessarily, and instead only catch larger fish, such as largemouth bass (example photo here).

Is there a way to avoid catching small panfish -- and instead only hook larger fish, such as largemouth bass?

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    Bait and fishing style will be the biggest help, run lures or minnows that would be too large for a small bluegill or other panfish.
    – Nate W
    Jun 19, 2023 at 21:35

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+50

Not an expert by any means.

There can be a few reasons that you aren't catching larger fish.

  1. The habitat - you are fishing off of a dock. How deep is the water there? Aside from the dock itself, is there any cover for the fish? Large fish generally like deep water.

  2. Time of day/year - this kind of goes along with habitat but what are the fish going to be doing? What are the fish going to be doing? In the spring, bass will be in shallower water on spawning beds (fishing bass off of these can be controversial to some). What kind of food will they be targeting?

  3. Weather / Water temp - Pressure systems play a factor in where fish will hang out. Water temp will affect where in the lake the fish want to be. Pressure systems will also play a factor here. Changes in temperature/pressure from a front moving through can lead to more feeding activity.

  4. Your method of fishing - you are using a worm on a hook with a bobber. Bass are more predatory, so jigging, spinners, spoons that simulate prey trying to get away or wounded prey that are easy to get would work better. You could try getting your worm lower in the water, larger fish like being deeper in the water. Try changing your bait, perhaps using live minnows (if this is allowed on the lake).

If you are targeting a specific species of fish, you are going to need to have an idea of what that fish will be doing at a given time. Small fish are easier to catch because they will eat anything, larger fish are going to be pickier because in order to get big they had to have not been caught before. So you need present your bait in a way that makes them want to react by eating it.

You may need to get some sort of canoe/kayak/paddleboard to get out to fish different locations depending on the topography of the lake is.

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