Targeting bass relating to bluegill beds is one of the best ways to catch fish shallow in the summer. Several types of sunfish, often collectively referred to as bluegill or bream, spawn in shallow water near the shore throughout much of the summer. Bream, often by the dozens, come together to construct beds that look like a bunch of sunken tires along the bottom. Each circle is its own individual bed, but the grouping as whole looks somewhat like a a honeycomb structure.
As these bream make their beds, deposit their eggs and then stand guard over their soon to be offspring, they set themselves up as easy targets for cruising bass. Insert an angler, and you have a recipe for a really good time. Let’s talk about how you can take advantage of the bream bedding process this summer.
How to find bream beds -
There are multiple ways to find bream and bluegill beds. They typically spawn shallow, near the shore. So, in clear to slightly stained water, you can put your trolling motor on high and just cruise the banks, seeing these beds with your eyes. Sometimes you can see them with the naked eye. But a good pair of polarized sunglasses can really increase your odds of spotting these beds.
You can also use electronics to find bream beds. Side scanning technology and Humminbird’s 360 transducer allow you to idle or troll around and find bluegill beds that are in a little deeper water or even muddy water, that you wouldn’t have been able to find with your eyes alone. Look for that same image to popup on your graph, the cluster of sunken tires.
How to select your baits -
When it comes to selecting what baits to fish with, you’ll definitely want to match the hatch here. But, it’s not as simple as picking a squarebill in a bream pattern instead of a shad pattern. Yes, you’ll still want to select appropriate colors. But matching the hatch here has more to do with mimicking the action of a hurt or fleeing bluegill or bream.
This is what makes topwaters like poppers and prop baits so effective. There are lots of options in these bait genres that look a lot like bluegill and other types of bream. But, most importantly, these baits create a lot of commotion on the surface and appear to a bass to be an injured, fleeing or feeding bream. They also appear distracted with whatever they’re doing, thus making them an attractive and easy target for a nearby bass.
Other baits -
When bluegill are spawning along a line of vegetation, popping frogs and swim jigs work really well too. And when cruising down a bank on the trolling motor looking for beds, it’s a great idea to keep a buzzbait or a reeling prop bait like a River2Sea Whopper Plopper or Berkley Choppo in your hand. These baits can be casted a long distance out in front of the boat and used to parallel the bank as you troll along, giving you a chance to intersect bass relating to bluegill beds before you even spot the beds themselves.
Wacky rigs, Neko rigs, shaky heads and dropshots are all really good baits as well for targeting bass around bluegill beds. You can back off the beds a bit and throw these finesse baits past the beds, then drag or work them slowly through the strikezone, tempting more finicky bass into biting.
Wolf packs -
One of the coolest things about targeting bass around bluegill beds is that the bass will often hunt these bream down in small schools commonly referred to as wolf packs. Anywhere from a couple to a couple dozen bass will group up and run down the bank in a school as they prowl the shallows looking for spawning bream. When the wolf pack runs across a bed, the water erupts with activity as the bream flee in all directions and the bass head after them in hot pursuit.
These wolf packs will often continue on down the bank after an exchange like this, looking for new beds as the other bream recover and regroup from being terrorized. Then, after awhile, these wolf packs will often double back and make another pass down this same stretch of bank, wreaking havoc once again on the bream beds they passed by earlier in the day.
If you want to try this type of fishing out yourself, rig up your best bream imitating baits and hit the bank. Whether you’re walking the bank or trolling down it in a boat, make casts out in front of you that parallel the bank. Be sure to cast out into the middle of the backs of shallow pockets as well, as the bream and bluegill really like to spawn in these areas. Use the topwater to find the beds and pick off the easy ones. And then employ the finesse tactics for cleanup duty. Fishing for bass relating to bluegill beds is one of the most fun and exciting ways to catch bass all year, so get out there and give it a try.
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