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Bed Fishing for Bass 101 with Gerald Swindle

According to Gerald Swindle, if you’re fishing down south during March and April, a good percentage of the bass are at some stage of the spawn; you just may not know it (see ethics perspective below). GMAN provides an in-depth tutorial on bed fishing for bass by reading their mood and using a Texas-rigged plastic lizard and a handful of other plastics. *Product links at the bottom


Success in bed fishing for bass comes down to reading bass behavior in relation to their bed. So are they catchable? According to Swindle, the answer to this question is almost always yes, but you must factor for time. He believes all bedding bass are catchable, but the time it takes to coax a bite varies widely. Here are some key things to look for.

Most bass spook off their bed during your initial approach. Pay strict attention to their return; when it comes back, is it protective of the bed or tentatively circling the periphery? Bass are more difficult to catch if they don’t show a strong interest in guarding the nest. If it returns and locks down to a specific spot, it usually takes little time to catch.

The anatomy of a bass bed is also worth discussing. A bed can be little more than a coffee cup-sized divet of gravel in the grass. Pay attention to the size and characteristics of the bed and how the bass relates to it. There’s usually a hot spot it’s trying to protect. Target your casts to this hot spot, and you’ll catch bedding bass more quickly. Staying or leaving depends on how much time you want to invest. Know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em!


Swindle ranks a plastic lizard as one of the best lures when bed fishing for spawning bass. He observes that lizards get active on the bank and in the water during the spring and likely feed on eggs, making them a threat. Plus, they’re just plain appealing – a lizard is basically a Zoom Speed Worm with four legs. How could a bass resist?

Swindle says the worst thing you can do when trying to catch bedding bass is sit there and throw the same bait without a bite. Experiment and match your bait to the fish’s mood. If they’re not responding to a lizard, Swindle downsizes to a smaller bait such as a compact craw. He’ll grab a finesse presentation like a wacky rig or drop shot from there if they’re finicky. And don’t be scared to go rogue on unconventional lures, such as a big glide bait. It just may be the trigger a big eat from a bedding bass.


So we’ve covered how to bed fish for spawning bass, but what about the ethics of fishing for them during the annual spawning ritual? A basic understanding of largemouth bass biology is important. Swindle observes that most shallow bass he targets on southeast reservoirs are at some stage of the spawn in March or April. You just don’t see the majority of the beds. Moreover, on big bodies of water, the spawn usually occurs over a period of time, even with individual fish. From a conservation standpoint, Swindle always handles spawning bass with care and speed and immediately releases them to the same spot.

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