Sight fishing is one of the most exciting ways to catch springtime spawning bass. It can also be the most frustrating as well. Just because you can see a bass on the bed, doesn’t mean you will be able to catch it. I am going to go over some of my best tips and tricks to catch more fish you can see on the bed this spring.
1. Polarized Glasses
This is a must-have for the sight fisherman. If you can’t see the bed, you won’t be able to fish it. I personally like Costas with an amber base and green mirror lens for sight fishing. The amber lens gives me more contrast in the water. Remember, you are looking for a dark fish in relatively dark water.
2. Push Pole
This is a much-overlooked piece of vital equipment for a serious bed fisherman. If you are constantly running your trolling motor, not only are you stirring up mud, you are spooking the fish and possibly blowing eggs off of the nest. I use a Greenhead gear push pole that is typically used for duck hunting. It is lightweight aluminum and telescopes down to 8 feet. Trim up your big motor and slowly push pole around until you see the bed and bass you want to pursue.
3. Be Observant
Finding the bed is the easy part. Now, you will need to observe the bass in how it relates to the bed and if it is deemed catchable and worth spending time on. When a bass is dedicated to the bed, it will usually stay in a certain part of the nest, which I call the “juice.” When you present your lure in the “juice” you need to pay attention to the bass and how it reacts to the bait. If it swims off and doesn’t return, you need to go find another bed. If the bass circles the bait or doesn’t move, that is a fish you can usually catch.
Making the most accurate cast is more critical now than ever. You will need to cast your bait past the bed and slowly drag the bait into the nest. If you plop your bait right on top of the fish, it will normally leave and be gone for quite some time. Make a minimally invasive cast and approach to the bed and you will increase your odds of not spooking the fish.
How much time do you spend on a bedding fish? It is totally situational in my book. If it is a bass over 8 pounds, I may spend up to an hour trying to coax her into biting. But if I am in a tournament, how long I stay will depend on what I have in my live well and what I think I need to win. So, keep that in mind, while you are whipping the water to a froth trying to catch a fish you can see, other anglers may be catching fish slightly deeper they can’t see.
We can all fill in the blanks here when it comes to our favorite baits for bed fishing. My favorites are Lizards, Tubes, Brush Hogs, Trick Worms and of course Senkos. I like to keep a natural color and a bright color of each bait that I am using. Shaw Grigsby would throw a white bait with a red sinker, then switch to a watermelon red bait with a green sinker to mix things up and give the bedding bass a different look. I like a white tube bait, because I can see the bait and where it is in relation to the bass. You will be blown away at how many times the bass can pick up your bait and move it off of the nest, and you never feel a thing.
7. Working It
What kind of action should you incorporate with your lures? My first cast I will let the bait sit motionless in the bed. If this draws a strike, I know I am onto something good. But more times than not, it will not be the first cast. You will usually have to make multiple casts with multiple baits to get the bass to commit. I like to hold the line in my hand and slowly twitch it with my fingers, rather than trying to move the bait with my rod tip. Try and start with no action and work your way up from there to see what will agitate the bass into biting.
8. Stand or Crouch?
I see a lot of anglers that prefer to crouch down or get on a knee to be less visible to the bass. If you believe that is what it takes, by all means do so. For me, a 21-foot bass boat is already unnatural enough right on top of the fish and me standing in it is of no consequence. But, to each his own. I stand up the whole time and it works for me.
This type of fishing can be very exciting and frustrating at the same time. I know there are a million other things I left out on the subject of sight fishing, and that is fine. I hope these tips will put you on the right track next time you are looking at a bedding bass and wondering what to do next.