For most of us bed fishing is typically associated with being able to see our subjects. We troll around docks, grass edges and, stump flats, weaving in and out of coves with eyes peeled on the bottom. All the while hoping to get a glimpse of that big female locked on the bed. After all what could be better than pitching to a giant bass that is staring you straight in the eye? Even better it won’t move more than a couple feet in each direction. Easy right? Well maybe not always that easy but consider how much more difficult it would be to catch that fish if you couldn’t see it. Several factors can get in our way of being able to effectively bed fish such as, wind, rain, cloud cover, boat traffic, and even muddied waters from a heavy rain. Often times we may even come to a lake that is in full spawn mode and not even realize it because of one or several of these factors and we just can’t seem to see them. You have become blind.
It is important to realize that when the water stabilizes above 60 degrees for more than a couple weeks or so between April and May(in most areas) the likelihood of fish spawning somewhere on that lake is very strong. Even if we can’t see them due to visibility limitations. There are some advantages to this however. First off a fish that you can’t see probably can not see you and thus is much easier to catch. To catch a fish off a bed can be painstaking enough so how are we supposed to catch a fish off a bed that we don’t even know exists? For me the most important ingredient is knowing. Armed with the confidence that the fish must be spawning based on recent weather patterns and moon phases enables me to to fish differently. Rather than looking for a bed or a fish in the water I am looking for what I call a “hot spot”
If you pay close attention to spawning habits of bass you will soon realize that the places they choose to bed is one of the most predictable patterns in bass fishing. Think about all the different places that you have seen fish bed and what many of them have in common. One example would be that they almost always have some form of cover adjacent to their bed. They will use that cover like a wall that protects the nest from at least one direction making it easier to defend the bed. A stump, dock piling, sea wall,large rock or small cut in on a grass line are all prime examples. Another key thing that will help narrow it down is noting that these likely targets also need to be exposed to several hour of light throughout the day for them to be potential sites for bedding bass. They will not spawn in total darkness. Even when under a dock you will notice that that bed will receive good light during some part of the day.
Once you have determined the key targets you must realize that the bed could be positioned on any side of that cover. To catch a bedded fish we all know that there is a sweet spot that we have to hit to trigger a bite. Since we can’t see the fish or the bed we need to flip our bait to all sides of the cover. I find it very critical to work your bait very slowly on each side of the cover. The more ideal the location appears the more confident I am that a fish is there. The more confident i am that a fish is there the slower i will go. Once you get that confidence and the bites start coming it becomes perpetual. As for baits I like something that moves a little water especially in stained conditions. A bait like the Yamamoto Flappin Hog is ideal for this application. I rig it on a 1/4 ounce bullet weight on a 3/0 straight shank flippin hook and fish it on 20lb Gamma Fluorocarbon line.
Of course there are many other types of cover,baits, techniques and high percentage scenarios that would be worth while to explore but keep in mind what I stated before. The most important aspect of this whole deal is being armed with the confidence and knowledge of fish behavior. So next time you’re out on the water at the peak of the spawn and all you see is chocolate milk try this approach and you’ll be well on your way to becoming an expert on bed fishing blind….