Big spawning bass don’t like to be seen. But that doesn’t mean you can’t catch them. Use this proven approach, which includes smart use of the ScoutLook Fishing app, to unlock some of the most-exciting angling of the year.
If you fish for bass in the springtime, you are most likely going to catch some bedding fish. Whether you target bedding fish or not is up to you, but anglers fishing near the bank will undoubtedly entice aggressive bass guarding their bedding areas. In clear water, it is fairly easy to see spawning bass behavior, but in stained and dirty water, it gets much more difficult to target spawning bass. Successful “blind” fishing for spawning bass requires knowledge of likely spawning areas along with the ability to visualize bottom contours, all backed by a strong, confident attitude.
Whether the water is clear or stained, it doesn’t change the fact that big bass don’t often spawn in “obvious” areas with their tails sticking out of the water. They like to spawn in areas hidden just out of sight, where you can’t see the bottom, and are masters at using dark objects as cover to blend with their dark backs. Also increasing the difficulty, many bass will drastically reduce their feeding when spawning, and stay very close to the bedding areas. The bite can be tough, but there are several factors to look for that can increase your odds of placing your bait in the right spot for a big one.
LOOK FOR HARD-BOTTOM AREAS
Bass like a hard bottom for spawning. The precise bottom composition can vary from lake to lake depending on what part of the country you are in. Bass need that hard bottom to prevent their eggs from getting “silted in” by subtle underwater currents. Paying attention to your electronics will help identify a hard bottom, but another technique is simply throwing out a bottom-bouncing lure and using your rod and line to determine any hard spots. Lakes with vegetation will often have lily pads and other shoreline grasses growing near a hard bottom; typically, tree roots also provide a good hard bottom, with the added bonus of a protective stump.
Compact creature-style baits like this one are great for pitching and dragging through suspected bass spawning areas. To increase strikes, the author will often use a chartreuse color-dip at the tail of his soft plastics, to trigger bass pestered by egg-robbing bluegills.
BANK CONTOURS HOLD HELPFUL CLUES
Look for banks that have a slow taper. Gradually sloping banks or even flats allow the local bass a large surface area to spawn in the shallows, and also provide protection for the resulting fry; bass prefer spawning areas that aren’t very close to deep water where many predator species lurk, awaiting an easy meal. Most lakes will have a few good spawning creeks with good angled banks and flats. If there is a creek channel close by, you might have hit the jackpot. Creek channels act as bass “highways” during the pre and post spawn; their presence means bass won’t be too far from a prime travel corridor.
ISOLATED COVER IS A BASS MAGNET
A lot of bass will choose to spawn next to cover if it’s available. The cover provides protection from predators and also helps to conceal them. Docks, sunken tires, grocery carts, grass patches, stumps and laydowns are great places to focus your casts.
Stumps, docks, and sparse vegetation—such as this isolated pocket in shoreline cover—are great places to target with some patient, pinpoint casting when blind bed fishing.
Once you have a majority of the aforementioned factors in your sights, you will be giving yourself a confidence boost that can be necessary when using recommended, somewhat-tedious bedding bass tactics. “Slow” is the name of the game when it comes to bed fishing. If you have ever pitched to a bedding bass and watched its reaction, you know that the fish may swim around your lures for several minutes before finally moving to strike. One signature way to tell that you are bed fishing without seeing the fish, is experiencing multiple strikes in the same place. If you are pitching to an area and your line repeatedly moves off a few feet, it most likely means there is a bass gently moving your lure (typically by the tail) from the bed.
WHEN TO START BLIND-CASTING
If there is one bass on a bed, there’s likely to be many more in the same area. Even in clear-water conditions, if you can confirm that there are bass on beds in a certain area, it’s a good idea to blind-cast the entire area thoroughly. Weightless baits like senkos and flukes are fantastic baits with which to make long casts, and twitch slowly back to the boat. Another good option is an old-fashioned Texas rig, with your favorite creature-style bait. I like to use a ¼-oz. weight with a compact creature bait, and dip the tail in a fluorescent color—to give it a “bluegill” look. Stealth is critical. Remember that the less aware bass are of your boat, the more likely they are to come out of the bed and grab a bait out of aggression. If you observe bedding bass long enough, you will see they will travel a long way from their beds to chase away live bluegills. With this in mind, if you feel a good-looking stump or other piece of cover might be holding a bedding bass, it’s a good idea to “shake” your lure in place. This action mimics an intruder “feeding” on bass eggs, which can trigger bass to eat your bait faster than if it’s swimming by or simply sitting still.
The author found this spot to be holding good numbers of cruising bass earlier in spring, and marked it as a potential blind bed fishing hotspot. The hunch proved correct, producing a number of nice bass including a beautiful six pounder.
MORE PRACTICE MEANS MORE CONFIDENCE
Fishing for bedding bass that you can’t see does take some confidence, and even a little imagination. Try to “visualize” where a bass would most likely make a nest, and then fish your bait painfully slow, using pauses up to a full 10 seconds. Wearing polarized lenses will also tremendously help your eyes see a layer deeper down. It might reveal the top of a submerged stump, or hole in the grass, where a big one might be laying up. Also, try to expand on what you actually can see on the bank and in shallow water, and project that out a little deeper. This strategy may be one of the most-difficult in all of bass fishing to build some serious confidence, because the unique conditions occur only in the spring, and the technique requires a lot of faith and patience. But there is a payoff. Effective blind bed fishing wins many spring tournaments, and accounts for many trophy bass, especially when the water is dirty.
The author depends on proven blind bed fishing techniques, and careful monitoring of weather and moon conditions with his ScoutLook Fishing app, to consistently hook up with monster bass each spring.
TAP INTO THE POWER OF SCOUTLOOK
You can make blind bed fishing easier by knowing the upcoming moon phase, with help from your smartphone and free ScoutLook Fishing app. It’s been proven that “Full” and “New Moon” phases will trigger more bass to spawn; be sure to check your app frequently for this and other data, including the relatively new “Water Contour” feature that you can check out before you even leave home, to clue you into preferred spawning sites along flats and gradually sloping bottom contours. And of course it doesn’t hurt to check out the latest fishing tips and tricks found at ScoutLookWeather.com, to help make your next trip as productive as possible.