t is the time of year when you will find spawning bass in nearly every pond or reservoir you go to. Some of them are already bedding in the smaller, shallow ponds and others are still just getting ready to bed in the fishing holes that have more surface area and deeper water. Here are a few things that have helped me catch these big fat females during what can be a frustrating time for bass fishermen.
First of all you need to have a lot of patience. These spawning fish will most likely be wary and cantankerous. They are on the lookout for predators around their nests and since they will be in shallow water, they will spook easily if you stomp around on the bank too close to their spawning area. It always helps to walk around a pond that you are planning to fish and spot the beds ahead of time. Use some kind of marking system so you don’t have to walk up close to them when you get ready to fish. The beds are easily spotted unless the water is really muddy. Just look for the light colored areas where they have fanned out the bottom. The nests are usually anywhere form one to three feet across and will typically be in less than three feet of water. In most cases you can spot fish nearby these bedding areas. The smaller fish are probably males on guard duty but you might also catch glimpses of the larger females and that’s the ones we are after.
Remember I said patience is a key. Once you have done your scouting and begun fishing you need to be prepared to throw to these beds over and over again. It is important to cast your lure beyond the area where the nest is and work it back slowly to the outside of the bed and ultimately right into the middle of it. Since this is the best method only certain types of baits will do the trick.
My go to lure here is a soft plastic lizard or trick worm (love that bubble gum color in the trick worm). I’m not sure that the color of the lizard is a big deal but it seems that any color that contrasts with the bottom of the bed makes sense. If you add any lead just make it fairly small unless the wind is blowing hard enough to put a big loop in your line. Most of the time the lizard by itself is enough weight and if you can get by without it I believe it gives the lure a more natural motion.
Whichever one you choose, work it up to the edge of the bed and shake it a little then pull it up right in the middle of the bed, let it sit still for a few seconds and then shake it again. Those little arms and legs of the lizard will shimmer around and it aggravates the bass something awful. They will circle it and put their nose on it. They will finally grab it in an effort to get it off the bed and then you’ve got her. I think what you will find is that some of the big females will require more work than others. Some will grab it right off the bat and others will put up with it longer.
Now I’ll pass along a few other things I’ve learned that help me catch more bass. These tips are not necessarily for bedding bass but rather bass fishing in general.
1) One of my favorite lures for the next month or so is a buzz bait. I’m going to always have one tied on this time of year if I’m fishing a place that has a lot of shallow cover. A different look that sometimes helps is to take the skirt off and replace it with a soft plastic minnow or grub. If they don’t seem to like the skirt try it and sometimes it will make the difference. Also add a trailer hook to your buzz bait if the fish are swirling at the bait but you are not hooking up. These short striking fish can often be taken with that rear hook.
2) One item I always have in the tackle box is a bunch of small barrel swivels. I use number eight or smaller most of the time. Tie a swivel about a foot and a half above your lure and it will keep your line from getting twisted. Twisted line insures that you are going to have more and more trouble with backlashes. This is especially true if you fish things like curly tailed worms, spinners, spoons or anything that naturally puts a twist in your line. I like this system better than connecting a swivel directly above the plug or worm because it does not have an adverse on the action of your lure.
3) Lastly, you might consider changing out factory treble hooks on plugs. Most of these plugs come with hooks that don’t rotate and they are not as efficient at catching bass as hooks that do. XCalibur makes rotating hooks that turn and penetrate better for more hookups. Most of the time I use number two’s or four’s.
As always let me know if there is anything I can help with and if you have a picture of a fish or any worthy picture from your outdoor adventures send it along. Who knows, it might wind up in the paper.
Articles and columns by Alvin Richardson about hunting, fishing and other outdoor sports will appear weekly in the Statesboro Herald. Richardson can be reached at email@example.com.