I will preface with an experience I had this past weekend. I made a trip to a local lake in full expectation to spend the day sight fishing. I drop the boat in the lake and don’t have to search long to find beds and buck bass absolutely everywhere. After catching a few small males, this is no longer cutting it, so I decide to search for females and spend my time on them. During my search, I run into a gentleman who had been doing the same and had admittedly “cleaned up the lake” and “had a very good day”. This being the case, I knew that the easy to find beds were probably not going to hold any females, and particularly females that were willing to bite very easily. So, I changed gears and began targeting fish that were off the beaten path. My day took a turn for the better in a big way, teaching me some valuable lessons. Primarily, target the fish that are harder to find, and they will typically be easier to catch. This meant instead of aggravating bass on beds for hours on end, I targeted deeper beds where I couldn’t see the fish, as well as females that were in that last stage before finding somewhere to lock down.
Heavy Cover Near Bedding Areas
The first place to target while everyone else is trolling around looking for bright spots is to locate heavy cover in and around these same areas. A lot of your females that are just moving up, or are just finishing up, will stage in thick cover. A lot of times, they will congregate in the best areas, so once you’ve caught one, be sure to make multiple flips or casts back into that same spot.
Move A Little Deeper
In a similar scenario, a lot of these fresh, and even worn-out females alike, will move out to adjacent deep water. In fact, the biggest fish of the day came when I found a bedding area that was 2-3’ deep, and I began targeting the 4-6’ deep water. Many times, most anglers will pass right over the top of these fish while staring up into the shallower water leaving these fish untouched and ready to eat anything that comes by them.
When it comes to baits, it’s good to have something in your hand that can be versatile. I spent my day with nothing, but a Strike King Structure Jig tipped with a Netbait Paca Chunk. This allowed me to pitch to bass I could see, flip into shallow heavy cover, and even drag it and swim in the deeper water. This bait paired perfectly with a Dobyns Colt Series 734 rod and a Bruin ELS 7.3:1 reel spooled with 15 lb Seaguar Red Label Fluorocarbon. That said, be ready to adjust depending on the mood of the fish. This time of year, I also like to have some type of soft jerkbait tied on, as well as a senko style bait.
This spring don’t get so hyped up to sight fish that you overlook possible ways to make your day better and take advantage of fish that others are passing by. It could make all the difference between a bad day and a good day on the water.