To be successful fishing the spawn, you need to practice the “Three P’s”: Patience, Persistence, and Piss-em-off! If you can incorporate these three principles into your bed-fishing game plan, you will find yourself becoming more productive when the Bass begin to find love in the
PATIENCE – First thing you need to do when fishing for bedding Bass is to slow WAY down. If you like to turn and burn you may catch a bed fish here and there, but you will be bypassing many fish that you could have easily added to your sack. Put on a good pair of Polarized sunglasses (a necessary tool for bed fishing) and get ready to go for a slow Sunday cruise – put that trolling motor on low, or unhurriedly stroll the bank, looking for beds which are usually easily spotted by a circular area of the bottom that has been dusted clean by the tail of the male fish.
When you spot a fresh bed with no fish on it, don’t immediately assume it has been abandoned. Very often the bed will be guarded by a fish that is 2, 3, 4 or even 5 feet away. So, be sure to look well outside the immediate bed area for it’s occupants. Also, your approach may have caused the fish to dart away. Give them a minute or so to return … because if they are still on the bed they will return!
PERSISTENCE – Once you find nesting fish don’t be in a hurry to leave them. I see way too many anglers make a few casts to a bedding fish and then move on if the fish doesn’t seem interested right away. Quite often, the fish won’t hit your offering until you’ve made numerous casts into the bed. Ninety five percent of the time, it will look like the fish doesn’t want to have anything to do with your bait. You’ll see them take a look at it, and then wander off. But, don’t give up! If you leave it there, the fish will usually circle back and take another look. This may happen several times, over several casts, before the fish goes “nose down” on your lure and inhales it. They may look like they are being coy with your bait, but they are most likely very upset that it is in their lair. When you see them circling back, especially if their pectoral and pelvic fins are flared and “lit up”, they are very interested in getting your bait off the bed. Be sure not to move the bait too much on the bed … dead stick it, alternating with slightly shaking it in place.The other part of this particular principle is that you will usually catch the smaller male fish first. So, you’ll have to remove him from the equation to get the female fish to bite. If you’re in a Bass boat, it’s not a problem if your livewell is in working order. But, if you are fishing from shore, you will need to walk a ways down the bank before releasing the male. Then, quickly get back to the bed and go to work on the female. She will likely be very riled up and willing to defend the nest until the male returns.
PISS-EM-OFF – This part of the technique is, in my view, the most crucial of the “Three P’s”. Most of the time when fishing the spawn, you are getting a reaction strike from the fish. They aren’t eating your bait for sustenance, but rather to defend their nest. So, usually, you have to agitate them into striking.
To accomplish this, you need to have two rods rigged and ready to go. One set up with what I call the “Teaser Bait” – a jig with a crawdad trailer, a Texas-rigged worm, a shakey head worm, etc. The other, with the “Closer Bait” – a small (3″-4″) drop shot swimbait or worm, a Malibu-rigged (weightless T-rig) small stick bait, a darter head with a sculpin, etc.
If you’ve tried all of these principles and they still aren’t biting, try changing the angle from which you present the bait. You’d be amazed how casting from the other side of the bed can make such a difference. Also, try changing the presentation itself. When the fish is riled up, hopping the bait into the nest will often get the interest of a fish that would only stare at it when it was sitting in the middle of the bed.
So, go find those spawners and give the Three P’s a try. I think you’ll find that Spring may just become your best Bassing season!