Keep a low profile in the boat and keep sudden body movements at a minimum. “Remember, a bass’ eyes are on top of its head and they’re very aware of things above them,” Grigsby says. “Eagles and ospreys are their predators, so any overhead movement puts them on guard.”
Avoid using the trolling motor unnecessarily, he adds, and if you have an anchor or Power-Poles, use them to help keep you at a distance and in position.
“One of the biggest keys to getting a bass to bite quickly is to make the cast before he knows you’re there,” insists Grigsby.
If you come upon a big female unexpectedly and startle her, mark the location, ease off and revisit the bed later. “When you do go back, stop ahead of time and make the longest cast you can,” he adds. “Cast beyond the target and drag it slowly into the bed.”
Grigsby says many anglers put the bait in the nest area, shake it a few times, then pull it out. That may work at times, but it can also cause a fish to lose interest.
“A bedding bass gets jaded quickly,” he explains. “When she sees a bait constantly coming and going, she figures ‘It’s going to leave, so why mess with it?’ I keep the bait there as long as I can, shaking, wiggling and squirming before I take it away.”
Grigsby doesn’t invest a lot of time in pairs of fish that are in the act of spawning, such as when the male and female are rubbing, bumping and rolling.
“Unless you’re there at the very end of the ritual, it’s tough to get those fish to bite,” he says. “Mark the bed, then go back later. If they’re done, you stand a better chance of catching them.”
Experienced anglers know how to read bedding fish to determine their “catchability.” If a fish doesn’t leave the bed when it sees you, chances are you can catch it.
“If that fish takes off quickly and doesn’t come back immediately, it’s going to be tougher to catch,” Grigsby says. “If it’s a big fish and there are other anglers in the area — and you have the time — you can sit her out. Otherwise, mark the bed’s location and come back later with a more stealthy approach.”
If the fish noses up to the bait, you’re doing something right, even if it doesn’t take it.
“That is a positive sign the fish is interested and that whatever you’re doing is right,” he says. “Keep doing it, and keep putting it in the same place. You will get it to bite unless you spook her.”
Grigsby says there is generally a key spot of the bed in which the bass is more likely to bite if the lure gets there. You can usually tell by the interest she shows or how agitated she becomes when the bait hits a different spot.