In all my years of fishing, I have not found a more exciting way to catch largemouth bass than topwater . . . well, except for bed fishing. In the spring each year, largemouth begin the migration from their deep winter haunts to the shallow flats and protected banks to spawn. (Click here to read my previous article about pre-spawn fishing.) Once they have found a mate, they pair up and cruise the shallows together looking for the perfect place to make their bed, or nest, as many call it.
Once the pair finds a suitable area, the female will use her tail to sweep away all sediment from the lake bottom, usually forming a white circle (for some lakes, a black circle). So, the first step in bed fishing is cruising the bank looking down at the water with polarized sunglasses for those white circles (photo below), hopefully finding some toads on their beds.
Now that we know what to look for when bed fishing, we can focus on the tactics to help you catch these bass.
The first thing you need to know is that each bass is different and requires different tactics to entice a bite. I am going to dive into two different ways to catch bed fish.
The first way to catch fish while they are spawning is to make them angry. During the spawn, bass have one thing on their minds: spawning. Eating is far down their list of importance during this time period, so while presenting your lure in front of their face like a cheeseburger works at all other times of the year, during the spawn the fish couldn’t care less – until that cheeseburger starts to make them angry.
The way to do this is to make repeated casts into the bed, aggravating the bass over and over with your lure. Eventually, one of the fish will become aggravated enough to strike your lure, giving you the opportunity to catch him or her. (See video below for a great example!) Effective lures for this method are craw baits and lizards on Texas rigs or shaky heads.
The second way to catch bed fish is to present your lure in a natural way. Some bass, especially big ones, don’t react to the aggravation method, so a lure like a weightless fluke or drop-shot can coax the fish to eat, it just may take longer. The way to achieve success in this type is to throw your bait in the bed and leave it there, often for minutes at a time. Eventually, the fish will become mad enough at your lure’s presence that it will take a bite at it.
Once you catch the fish, make sure to release it right where you found it, so that it can swim back to it’s bed and continue making the next generation of fish babies.
Spoiler alert for video below: Be sure to watch until the end where a particular bedded bass ends up costing me some expensive soft plastics!
P.S. If you enjoyed this article, make sure to check out my bed fishing videos on YouTube, and leave a comment saying you came from OutdoorHub! Thanks for your time, and I will catch you on the water!
Editor’s note: OutdoorHub is pleased to welcome well-known bass angler/YouTuber Tyler Anderson of Tyler’s Reel Fishing; stay tuned to OHUB for Tyler’s how-to articles and videos to help you catch more and bigger bass. Tyler attends Texas A&M University and one day hopes to compete on the BASS professional tour.
Be sure to follow Tyler on Instagram. He posts fishing pics regularly, like this one: “A little rain ain’t gonna stop me😆.”