How to Sight Fish For Bass on Beds
Ethics of Bed Fishing During Spawn
Bed fishing can be a touchy subject for many anglers. The spawn is a short window of time that will affect the stocking of your water for years to come so it is important not to disturb the process as much as you can.
Many anglers choose to bed fish because during this time bass can be the heaviest they will be all year. This makes it a great time to try and catch a new personal best.
Some people are completely against it and we respect that but we also understand that some people want to do it so we are going to focus on helping you do it as safely as possible.
During the spawn, bass need to be released quickly as possible. It is fine to get a quick picture or weight but you should try and be quick. Along with being quick, it is also important to release the fish in the same place as it was caught. DO NOT put bedding fish in your livewell. This will allow the bass to return to their bed to continue their spawning.
Best Baits and Colors for Bed Fishing
Best Baits for Targeting Bass on Spawning Beds
- Dropshot – Dropshot is a great finesse presentation for bed fishing. Use a size 1 exposed nose hook with a Smallie Smasher in color Grn Pumpkin Org Blk Purp Prl Bl. Read our dropshot fishing guide for more tips.
- Ned Rig – Ned rigs are another excellent finesse technique for sight fishing. Pair a Savage Gear Salamander in Mojito color with a 1/10 oz tungsten ned head. Read our ned rig guide for fishing tips.
- Creature Baits – Instead of texas rigging use an exposed hooked ball head with your favorite creature bait. I personally like the Paca Craw and the Sweet Beaver.
- Jigs – Jigs catch giant bass. They are great at imitating both craws and bluegill. When the skirt is moving in the water it is a large bulky profile that bass does not want near their nest. The downside to jigs during this time is their weed guard prevents you from being able to slowly apply pressure like you would on an exposed hook. They do have their advantages when you hook a fish though. Weed guards provide upward pressure against the fish’s jaw which helps keep the hooked pinned. For specific jig recommendations check out our favorites.
- Bluegill Swimbaits – Bass absolutely hate bluegill during the spawn and will attack any that come near their nest. Bluegill are a difficult profile for bass to eat whole. To get the best hookup ratio I recommend these bluegill baits.
Best Colors Lures for Sight Fishing
Most anglers use bright colors like white, chartreuse, or pink for bed fishing because they are much easier to see when the fish fully eats the bait. When bed fishing it is very common for fish to nip or bite the tail of your bait to carry it away without ever putting the hook in their mouth. Clearly seeing the bait allows you to know when the hook is in their mouths so you only set the hook once.
I tend to go with more natural colors and I think it makes a big difference. In 2020 the world changed which led to a lot of new anglers and added fishing pressure. In pressured waters bass tend to see the same lures and colors fished every day.
Going with natural tones colors although tougher to see seems to make a big difference in the number of fish I tend to catch. The colors I find that work best are Magic Craw and Tolopia.
Tips to Catch Bass on Beds
When bed fishing you need to adjust fish to fish. One bait won’t work for every bed fish, having an arsenal of 3-5 options will be your best option. When you find a fish, start with your favorite bait and watch how they respond to it. If they aren’t interested, keep switching to your next option until you find one they react to.
Use Exposed Hooks When Bed Fishing
I try to only use exposed hooks when sight fishing. The benefit of using an exposed hook for bed fishing is you don’t need as much force to set the hook.
When bass are on their beds they aren’t wanting to eat. They are only attacking your bait because they either want to kill it or move it away from their nest. It is common for bass to only bite the tail end of your bait to move it away from their nest.
One of the worst mistakes you can make bed fishing is setting the hook too hard when they don’t have the hook in their mouths. When bass are already nervous and you aggressively set the hook they arent going to mess with your bait again so it is vital to know when your hook is in their mouth. You only have one chance with these fish.
With an exposed hook you can ease into your hook set by tightening the line and adding pressure. If the hook is in their mouth it will catch as you add pressure, when you feel it catch then you can set the hook. If they only have the tail nipped then the slow pressure will make them spit it out without spooking them and you can try again.
A texas rig or shakey head cant do this because you need the extra force to expose the hook.
Best Color Sunglass Lenses for Sight Fishing
You can’t talk sight fishing without bringing up sunglasses. The right sunglasses can make a huge difference in sight fishing.
- Amber lenses light up the water, the make everything brighter. This makes fish stand out against the bottom much better. In clear water, there isn’t a better option. Amber sunglasses can allow you to see up to 15ft further in clear water than anglers without glasses or the wrong color lenses. The downside to amber lenses is when there is sediment in the water. Since amber lights up everything it also lights up the sediment and makes it difficult to see fish.
- Copper lenses see right through sediment and work much better in murky water. If your water has less than 3ft of visibility then switching to copper sunglasses will make a big difference when sight fishing.
Avoid Bright Color Clothing When Bed Fishing
It might sound crazy but the clothing you wear can make a difference when bed fishing. Avoid wearing bright colors like white, orange, or chartreuses that can make you stand out. Wear dull, natural colors. Doing this will result in catching more fish because it will allow you to fish faster.
Boat and Bank Position for Bed Fishing
The best place to position yourself when bed fishing is on the shallow side of the fish. This gives bank anglers an upper hand over those fishing from a boat. Along with not cutting the fish’s access to deep water bank anglers will have an easier time blending in. If you move slowly along the shore and are wearing dull clothing you will be almost invisible to the fish.
Large bass aren’t comfortable being up so shallow so they are extra cautious while on their nests. If you position your boat on the deeper side you will be cutting off their access to deeper water. This will make them nervous and make catching them much harder.
If you are in a boat or kayak try and position yourself off to the side and cast along the shore so the bass has safe access to the deep water. If you come across a giant bass bedding it can be worth it to drive down the bank a bit and hop out of your boat and target them from the bank. It can make a big difference with giant bass that are more cautious.