Now that we have finally had some warmer weather, the bass should be finding their way to the spawning beds. Locating bass on spawning beds is not usually a very difficult task. But even though you can see them, catching them is not always the easiest thing in the world.
Seeing a bass in shallow water is one thing. Trying to get him to bite is another. Bass by nature are a very spooky species. Shadows from the boat, or from the angler himself, can cause a bass to move off a spawning bed and put them in high alert. Sometimes the bass will be skittish and won’t commit to anything you throw on a spawning bed.
There will be other times where you can catch that same bass all day long (which I discourage; it’s not good for the bass) simply because he is in full protect mode. When you find them like that, they are easy to catch. Instinct drives the males guard their spawning beds — and if anything comes near, it’s met with some serious fury.
I remember taking my wife out on one of our first fishing trips together long before we were married. She didn’t believe that you could actually see them and get them to bite. It’s been so long that I have forgotten which lake I took her to, but the bed fishing was on and the males were all over the place. Everywhere we went, you could see the fanned-out bright sandy spots, with bass sitting on every one of them.
This was really cool for me as well — I had never seen them stacked up quite like that. So I picked out one spawning bed with about a 2-pound male on it and showed Missy how to flip a bright bait (something you could see easily under the water) onto the bed and catch that bass. After releasing him, I told her to look down at the spawning bed again. The bass had gone right back to that bed and back to his business.
I cut off the hook and told Missy to flip the bait back on the spawning bed. That same bass came back and hammered the bait again. We didn’t catch him because there was no hook, but my point to her was that bass in a certain frame of mind will hit that bait over and over again to keep it out of the spawning bed.
The fun part of that day was finding the areas and identifying the spawning beds. If you have reasonable water clarity, it’s very easy to see a spawning bed. When you spot a bright sandy circle, peer around the edges of it to see if you can spy a bass lurking nearby.
A hard sandy bottom is key. That type of bottom makes it very easy for the male bass to fan out a bed with his tail. One thing that you should always look for is some type of vegetation that has holes in it, or has little points that the bass can get next to. A nesting site in such a spot offers them some cover to hide in if they get spooked while on the bed.
This is the right time of year to go out and target some bedding bass. The water is on a warming trend and it is at the right temperature that should get the bass moving to the beds and locking on to them. Pay close attention to the bottom you are over. Find a spot on your lake where you know that the bottom is firm and work from there.
Also, early in the year like this, the north end of a lake tends to warm up faster than the rest of the lake. Why? Most cold weather comes from the north, and it comes with wind. That wind does not have as much of an impact on the north end of the lake because the land serves as a windbreak. But the south side gets the full brunt of the wind and the waves. So it’s a good rule of thumb to check the north end of the lake first, then move southward.
About the only exception to this is canals. If you have a lake with canals on it, look there first. That water warms quicker because it is in a smaller, more confined area. Look around docks and little dropoffs for beds.
As I write this, I am getting ready to head to the lake myself. With the water up six or seven degrees over this past week, I hope to find some really good bass in the canals on the lake I will be fishing. Hopefully, my wife and I will have some luck and land a few good bass.
Greg Bartz is a tournament bass fisherman based in Lakeland. Greg fishes lakes throughout Florida’s Heartland and enjoys RV travel around the Southeast with his wife and tournament partner, Missy. Contact him at Greg.Bartz@SummitHoldings.com.