How to Catch Largemouth Bass on Bed

How to Catch Largemouth Bass on Bed

It’s bedding season. Largemouth bass are at or near the beds for the vast majority of anglers reading this right now. A few bass have already trekked through the bedding process in the deep south, many are still on the way up north, but right there in the middle, it’s just right. Bass are shallow, looking to spawn and ripe for the picking. Here’s how to find them and catch them. 

Look for signs - 

The most tell-tale sign when looking for spawning bass is a white, glowing circle underneath the water. Largemouth like to spawn relatively shallow, in less than 5 feet of water most of the time. Using their tales, they fan a spot on the bottom clean, leaving a typically brighter (often white) spot on the bottom. These are their beds, and they’re often easy to spot. 

You can also look for other indicators, like isolated cover. Bass like to bed against something. So be on the lookout for isolated clumps of reeds, stumps, dock posts and boulders. You should also keep an eye on any bait your fishing on or near the surface. Bass will come off their beds and sometimes roll on topwaters for instance, but not eat them. This gives away their locations though, and you can usually toss a worm to them and catch them once you know where they are. 

What to use - 

Once you’ve found a bass on bed, bottom baits are best. Drag something like a Texas rig, a shakyhead or a Ned rig through the bed and the bass will often bite quickly out of defense. Since they are hitting the bait to protect the bed, instead of really eating it to feed, they may just grab the tips of the bait and miss the hook. They even tote the bait out of the bed and spit it out sometimes. 

Using a white bait will help you to visually see if the bass has the whole bait in its mouth or just the tip. Once you see the whole bait disappear, set the hook. But if you can still see half of the bait hanging out of the fish’s mouth, keep making repetitive casts to the bed until it eats the bait all the way. 

Little tricks - 

Remember, bedding bass are typically only reacting to a bait because they want to remove the threat from the bed. So anything you can do to make the bait appear more threatening helps trigger strikes. Fishing it really slow helps. Using baits that float, like Z-Man’s ElaZtech soft plastics, will give the appearance that the bait is feeding with its nose down on the bottom. Bass can’t stand this. Scents can help too. 

And pay particular attention to where the bait is in the bed when the bass reacts best to it. There’s usually a spot about the size of a quarter where the actual eggs are, and the bass will be particularly protective of this spot. You can also use big baits like swimbaits and glidebaits to trigger strikes sometimes, as the bass again see these as threats. 

Final thoughts - 

Fishing for spawning bass is a ton of fun. Prior to forward facing sonar, this was the most interactive way to fish of all time. You can actually see what the bass are doing in response to your bait and your decisions when sight fishing for a bass on bed. This interaction is exciting and will inevitably teach you a lot about a bass’s behavior. 

Have fun, enjoy the resource. But you also have to help protect it. Catching a bass in a tournament situation removes it from the bed and, undoubtedly, has at least some small detrimental effect on a fishery. Fortunately, even in a traditional tournament situation where bass are brought back to the ramp, only a few fish are completely removed from beds by a given angler in a day. 

With catch-photo-release events, the bass will usually return straight to the bed after captured and released. This is great. And, it’s a good practice if you’re just fun fishing to do the same. Enjoy the catch, take a pic, turn the fish back loose and let it return to the bed. This will help sustain the resource for generations to come. 

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