By: Matthew Mattingly
Spring is in full swing, the water temperature is getting ripe and the bass have one thing on their mind; love. That’s right, I am talking about the spawn. The one time of year when the bass are laying their eggs in the shallow bays and coves clearly visible to the angler. Everyone knows that you catch some major toads on the bed, but not everyone knows how to catch them. You spend hours looking for dark or light colored bowls filled with female bass of epic portions, you might as well give yourself the best possible chance to catch the fish. That’s where I come in to offer advice.
Now let me be honest by saying that in no shape or form, am I the best at bed fishing, but I have fished with guys that are just like vacuum when it comes to sight fishing. If the fish can be caught it is coming in the boat. Over those trips I have taken mental notes, watching their every move basically becoming the human sponge and it has taken my sight fishing game to a new level. Look at the name of the game.
The goal of bed fishing is to aggravate the female or place your lure to where she will pick it up to clear her bed of the nuisance. To me there are three parts to the sight fishing game after you have located the bed: approach, technique, and time.
How you approach the bed is ver important. It is your plan of attack, mainly exactly where in the bed are you going to place your lure to entice this female to pick it up. Before I had heard of fishermen simply starting at a bed for nearly a half hour before making the first pitch to the bed and always wondered why. The reason this is done is to look for the “sweet spot” of the bed, where the female spends the majority of her time and guards the hardest. It isn’t always apparent but can be found if you watch. A lot of times when you pull up to a bed the female will swim off and come back, or she will make a circle and swim back to the same spot on the bed over and over.
This is the sweet spot, that is where you want to place you lure. If you can place your lure in the sweet spot, even if the female swims off and circles back you can catch her attention and aggravate her until she picks it up.
Next is the actual technique, what are you going to throw into her domain. There are a wide variety of techniques that work, and some major off the wall things that catch monsters. For me I keep it simple and rely of three different techniques.
A craw, a swimbait and a dropshot. I typically start with some type of white craw, whether it be Texas rigged or used as a jig trailer. I use white for the simple fact that I can see it, color when bed fishing is arbitrary, it doesn’t matter.
My best advice is use something you can see when the fish picks it up. If that produces nothing I change to a swimbait, not a big one just one that I can fish easily without too much water commotion and keep it on the bed to imitate a fish coming to check out her eggs.
Personally I love to go with more natural and bluegill pattern swimbaits as opposed to sexy shad or glimmer shad styles simply because a bass will straight chase a bluegill or bream out of their bed. If all else fails I will pull my dropshot out with a shad shaped worm or Berkley Twitchtail rigged on it. The reason I use the dropshot is you can put it in the sweet spot and keep it there.
Give the lure as much action as you want and not move the weight, keeping the lure in the zone for as long as you can stand. Sometimes this finesse style entices the fish that have seen everything else under the sun to clear your lure out of the bed. Knowing, using all three techniques and understanding when to deploy them can pay dividends.
The final thing to keep in mind is time. The amount of time you spend fishing for a particular fish. When a fish continuously leaves and comes back, most of the time that fish can be caught, but if the females swims away and doesn’t come back for a half an hour then you are wasting your time.
Sometimes you have to know when to move one because no matter what you do you just can’t catch that fish. You will waste your entire day fishing one bed and ruin your tournament or fishing trip. That is why the best policy to have when bed fishing is to have multiple fish located to try. There is not set amount of time to fish a particular bed, simply feel out the fish using your common sense and determine whether you can catch that fish. Sometimes it is best to move on and sometimes the extra five minutes you spend may put an extra five pounds in the boat. You have to be the judge remember each fish is a different animal.
The spawn can be feast or famine when it comes to catching bass. If you know the right moves you can up your game and sack some giants. Take these tips with you the next time out and it may be the best decision you’ve ever made.