Why Do Bass Jump Out Of The Water? Explained

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If you have ever gone fishing before, one of the biggest spectacles that you may have encountered is that of the jumping fish. Now, some fish jump more than others, and one that is known to jump, although fairly rarely, is the bass.

So, why do bass jump out of the water? Well, bass will jump out of the water for two reasons. One reason is that they are trying to evade and confuse a larger predator, and the other reason being because the bass is hungry and jumping to catch food

jumping bass fish


Why Do Bass Jump Out Of The Water?

As mentioned in our opening salvo, there are two primary reasons why a bass will jump out of the water. The first reason for a bass to take a leap of faith is due to being pursued or threatened by an underwater predator.

If a bass is being pursued by a larger fish looking for a light lunch, it may launch itself out of the water, which also has dual purposes.

For one, simply launching itself is a great way to avoid an attack, and second, this also confuses the predator and may give the bass a few seconds to get away while the predator is disoriented.

The second reason why a bass may jump out of the water is to catch food. Something like a good size largemouth bass can jump out of the water to catch small fish that are also jumping, to catch airborne insects, and even to catch small birds, frogs, and other such animals.

What is interesting to note, as you can see, is that both reasons behind bass jumping out of the water have to do with food and eating. It’s a true fish eat fish world out there!

Is It A Good Sign For Fishing?

boat bass fishing

Whether or not bass jumping out of the water is a good sign for anyone looking to fish in the area is questionable or debatable.

This is because it can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the underlying reason why the bass are jumping in the first place.

If the bass are jumping to avoid other predators, then it is a bad sign for fishing. A bass that is buys avoiding becoming dinner is not going to care about your baits and lures.

Simply put, you aren’t going to sit down to eat a hot dog as a lion chases you across the savanna. The same principle applies here.

That said, it may be a good sign, a good opportunity for you to try and catch the fish that the bass are avoiding. Those fish are in a feeding frenzy, thus providing you with a great opportunity to hunt the fish that is hunting the bass.

Moreover, if the reason for the bass jumping out of the water is because they are hunting for insects, then this is a very good sign for you.

If you use the right baits and lures, the bass won’t know the difference between the real insects it is jumping for and the fake topwater insects you are using as lures.

A bass that is hungry and in the midst of devouring insects from the water’s surface, or just above it, is not going to notice an artificial lure.

When bass are feeding, it makes for a great opportunity to catch them. As you can see, whether or not jumping bass are a good sign for fishing depends on why they are jumping.

When Do Bass Usually Jump?

There is no set time of day when a bass will jump for sure, if at all. Bass are not known for being avid jumpers. They aren’t like some other fish that might just jump for the heck of it.

Bass only jump when called for, or in other words, when they want to eat something or when they need to avoid being eaten.

Now, seeing as fish are the most active at dawn and dusk, at least in terms of feeding, it is safe to assume that your best bet at seeing jumping bass are at sunrise and sunset.

This is when fish feed, so it’s the time when bass will come to the surface in search of food, and thus it’s also the time when bigger fish will come up in search of some tasty bass.

What can also be said is that light rain will cause insects to wash into the water, and light rain also make insects fly closer to the ground or the surface of water.

Therefore, right when or after a light rain, you can expect many insects to be near the water, which means that this is a prime time for bass to jump.

How To Catch Bass Jumping Out Of The Water?

There are a few good ways to catch bass that are jumping out of the water. Remember, it most likely has to do with them hunting for insects, so this is exactly what you need to take advantage of.

Let’s talk about how to catch a jumping bass.

Using Topwater Baits

The most important thing for you to remember here is that a bass that is hunting for insects on or above the surface of the water could care less about that live minnow and hook sitting a few feet below it.

Therefore, when it comes to catching bass, don’t use any lures that sink, or even sit a few feet under the water’s surface.

To catch jumping bass, you need topwater lures, preferably ones that look like insects, small fish, and even small frogs or tadpoles. Any lure that looks like an animal that may swim on the surface of the water or fly above it is ideal for this purpose.

Buzzers, poppers, chuggers, and many other surface or topwater baits are best. On a side note, when doing this, try to stand opposite of the sun.

You don’t want the sun behind you, or else it will cast a large shadow of you into the water, and this can scare the fish away.

Holding The Bait In The Air

Although this is by no means a super proven or tested method, something else you can try doing is to get some bait that looks like a flying insect, and hold it just above the surface of the water by a few inches.

This could mimic a flying insect that a bass my try and jump for.

Using a Net

The other thing you could try doing, although it’s going to require a good net, a good deal of skill, and some cat-like reflexes, is to catch a bass in mid-jump using a large fishing net.

Of course, this is not easy and being able to accomplish this is rare, but that said, it has been done more than once.

If you find yourself immersed in a school of flying insects that is attracting a large amount of bass, and they are all jumping around you, getting your net close to the water and catch the bass as it jumps, as it swims to the surface, or as it re-enters the water are all possibilities.

How Long Can Bass Survive Out Of Water?

Well, for one, a bass can survive out of water for long enough to jump in and out. That said, a bass can live out of water for up to 20 minutes.

However, it is definitely not pleasant. Fish don’t have lungs (at least not most of them), which means that they can’t breathe out of water.

After about 5 seconds, bass and other fish will start to suffocate, but it can take up to 20 minutes for a fish to die of suffocation, all the while it is in pain and slowly dehydrating.

Simply put, a bass cannot survive out of water for any substantial amount of time.

What Other Fish Jump Out Of The Water?

Ok, so all fish will jump if needed, particularly to catch food or to avoid becoming food.

However, there are some fish that are more known for jumping than others, with the mullet being one of them. Mullets are perhaps some of the most avid and proficient jumpers out there.

Salmon that are in the midst of spawning are also known to jump out of the water, particularly when swimming up small rapids and waterfalls, which is why you will often see bears standing in those waters, with their mouths and claws ready to catch a salmon mid air.

Some other fish that are known for jumping out of the water include flying fish, mackerel sharks, some types of carp, and tarpon.



When it comes to bass, they really aren’t known as avid jumpers, but they will jump to either catch a meal or avoid becoming one, and when this happens, it might provide you with a great opportunity to catch a nice bass mid-jump.

Jason Downs

I created Fishtackly to share my 30 years of fishing experience and knowledge with others with the aim to help, and hopefully get more people involved and educated in this fantastic hobby that I love.