An often controversial subject among today’s bass anglers is the art of fishing for bedding bass during the height of the spring spawn. Some think it is best to wait and fish for these shallow water bass during the post-spawn period.
This timely post-spawn equation usually takes place during a short period — from around early May to the latter part of May — after the majority of these Lake Wedowee bass have completed their annual ritual of bedding.
Then they go on a major feeding spree. By the month of June most of the lake’s male and female bass have bedded and the majority of Lake Wedowee’s bass then begin fattening up for the long, hot summer ahead.
So, if fishing for bedding bass is not your idea of a fair way of fishing. You may not want to get the boat out until early summer! If this technique intrigues you…then read on!
PREPARING THE BED
It’s a known fact. Lake Wedowee’s bass usually begin pairing up and making those little rounded out beds (you can see on the lake’s bottom), around the first week or two of April. Some bass even bed earlier in the spring season.
For this, “annual ritual of reproducing another year’s offspring” to be in perfect working order, both the male and female bass must complete this very stressful ordeal together.
First, conditions must indicate its time for the smaller male bass to begin preparing the bed. This can be when the water temperature is in the 60’s, meaning many male bass will be crowded in select locations.
* There must be ideal water temperatures in the lakes shallows, around 68 to 72 degrees, before the female bass lays her eggs.
Stable lake levels for a week or two, (not rising or falling) and a full moon very close by, is when the majority of the lakes female bass will be in the lakes shallower water. Anglers must keep in mind, not all Lake Wedowee bass bed at the same time.
But Lake Wedowee’s avid spring time anglers can rest assured the majority of the lakes bass population is in water less than 5 feet deep during this spawning period.
Lingering late winter cold fronts can stall the bedding process. Unseasonable early spring warming trends can actually speed up the bedding process duping these bass into bedding much earlier than usual. So, looking at the weather (like during the rest of the year), can mean Lake Wedowee’s anglers will have to adjust accordingly.
* Again, the ideal spawning water temperature is got to be close to 72 degrees.
BASS ON THE BEDS
Once this spawning process is in full swing anglers should be on the lookout for the brightly-colored beds, those that often stand out as just a rounded out circle on the lake’s bottom. Concentrate your efforts in water with a depth of 1-4 feet deep.
* A good pair of polarized sunglasses (preferably those with side shields), is a must for aiding anglers in locating these bass beds.
Without a good pair of polarized sunglasses, the sun’s glare shining down on the waters surface, will often prevent an angler from seeing most bass beds.
SPOTTING THE BEDS
Bass beds can easily be seen, but anglers must focus their efforts in lightly-stained-to- clear water clarity to really be successful at bed fishing. This can mean looking for a yellowish-colored circle (with most bass beds having a diameter of about 1-2 feet), if the bass has chosen a sandy bottom to bed in.
Or it can mean be a reddish-orange colored bed if the bottom composition consists of red clay. Some bass may choose to bed in areas featuring a sandy bottom with small pebbles or small, scattered baseball-sized rocks.
Some of Lake Wedowee’s bass have even been seen bedding right on top of a flat rock, under man made piers or right on top of a flat stump. Like any one of those thousands of stumps that were left here when the lake was cleared of the standing timber in the lake’s flooded shallows, when impounded in 1983.
Most bass will avoid having to bed on a composition of a muddy bottom. Unless, that is all the lake has to offer in any one given area. Muddy bottoms are usually associated with dead, decaying aquatic weeds. Lake Wedowee has very little aquatic weed growth early in the spring season.
* Summertime is when some aquatic weeds will begin their growth, suddenly appearing in the shallows around the first week of June. These weeds will flourish for about five months until the lake is again drawn down to winter pool in the fall period. Then Lake Wedowee is down for another 6 months, killing most aquatic weeds found lake wide.
IS THERE AS BASS ON THAT BED?
Spotting a bass bed is only the first part of this fishing equation for bedding bass. It does no good to spend your time fishing for a bass that is not actually on the bed or one that cannot be seen cruising nearby the bed.
* This is where the term “sight fishing” comes in to focus.
First an angler must thoroughly scan the entire area around any suspect bed, looking for the bass that made the bed! This can be any one of the dozens of smaller male bass in any given bedding area. Or it can be a big female bass waiting to lay her eggs.
Male bass prepare the bed, they then watch over the bed for as long as 30 days, running off any egg-eating intruders (like bream and other baitfish), that constantly hinder the whole overall success of the entire bedding process.
When the 10,000 or more bass egg fry then hatch, the male bass must then spend its time protecting the new born bass fry from predators. After this 30 day bedding process is complete, the small bass fry are then on their own. Left to explore their new watery world without the protection of their parents nearby.
TECHNIQUES AND LURES FOR TARGETING BEDDING BASS
Most adept anglers that have mastered the art of fooling a bedding bass into biting, know when its time to set the hook. Bass not interested in your fake offerings may take a while before it even attempts to remove the intruder from the bed. Here’s what to look for;
A bass that is locked on the bed is a bass that will bite. This is a bass that is usually sitting motionless hovering right over the bed. Which also makes it easier for the angler to see the bass, spotting the dark silhouette against the lightly colored bottom background.
In lightly stained water conditions a bass locked on the bed can be aggravated into striking a number of lures, often requiring throwing a lure right into the heart of the bed. Or an angler may need to carefully drag a lure off the bank right into the bed, for those more skittish bass found in clearer water situations.
In heavily stained water, when targeting bedding bass, you can fish close by most suspect beds by simply fan-casting the entire area. In clear water situations an angler may have to keep the boat a safe distance away, then spot the bed, utilizing long casts to avoid spooking the bass.
* Most bed fishing anglers prefer to keep the sun to their back to avoid spooking bass on the beds and to help cut the sun’s glare on the water. Some anglers may fish into the rays of the sun to avoid casting a shadow over the bass or the bed, which can really spook a bass off the bed fast!
Lures can be an array of offerings. Some lures can be fished on the lakes bottom right in the bed, other lures may be fished in the middle water column. Even fishing a top water lure can often aggravate a big old bass into striking, when all other lures have failed to produce a strike.
Whether an angler chooses to fish a worm, tube bait, lizard, jig combo, creature type bait, fake crayfish or any one of the dozens of fake plastics today’s anglers have to choose from, always keep in mind to use lures that have colors that are easily seen.
Some anglers may choose to fish a white, chartreuse, yellow or red colored worm, lizard or tube bait. These brightly colored plastics help an angler to see the lure better when it is taken by the bass and it helps a then prepared angler, to get a much better hook set when the bass does strike.
These bass engulf a lure real fast, then they swim out away from the bed, and then it will spit the lure out. Often, this all takes place in a matter of just a few seconds. So paying close attention and then setting the hook fast, at the proper time, is of the utmost importance when bed fishing, for any degree of success!
Watch the bass! It will show you when it is about to strike your lure! Most big, female bass will nose down at the lure, with its tail often straight up, right before it flairs its gills and engulfs the intruder!
RETURN THE BASS TO THE BED
After you successfully fool one or more of these bass into biting your tempting morsels, unhook it carefully, quickly take its picture and then return it to the bed immediately.
The longer a bass stays out of the water the better its chance for survival decreases. These are weak and hungry bass that have spent the last few days very stressed out. Treat them like you would want to be treated…if you were a fish!
In addition, if you allow the boat to drift away from where you catch a smaller male bass then it may not be returned to the same bed in time to save the eggs or newborn bass fry. A big female bass may abandon the bed all together if you take it far away from a bed it cannot return to.
Practice C P R not only this entire bedding spring season, but year round as well. Catch, Photo and Release these bedding bass. Return these bass right where you caught them. To assure that they will successfully produce another year’s offspring next spring.
Give them a chance to live and fight another day. To give another angler a thrill in the near future, just like they did for you!
The future of fishing depends on you!
Reed Montgomery / Reeds Guide Service
“ Over 40 Years Fishing Alabama’s Lakes for Bass and Stripers ”
Phone (205) 663-1504