Shaw’s 10 rules of sight fishing

7. Don’t overlook deep water

Not all bass spawn in shallow water. Grigsby says some of the most productive spawning areas he’s found lay deeper than most anglers look.

“Look as deep as your eyes will allow you to see,” he explains. “If I can see down to 6 feet, that’s where I start looking — from there to a foot of water.”

On extremely clear lakes, you may find bedding bass in 20 feet of water or more.

8. Search for ’em early

While biologists say 68 degrees is the optimum spawning temperature, bedding activity begins long before that. In fact, on some northern U.S. lakes, bass have been caught off beds in 50-degree water.

Grigsby says 60 degrees tends to be when activity picks up most on southern lakes, but he starts looking when the water hits 55 degrees.

 “Follow the weather patterns closely,” he advises. “And by all means, start looking during full moon or new moon periods of early spring.”

9. Show ’em a variety

There’s no lure in your box that won’t catch bedding fish, but there are some that will catch them better.

Before Grigsby leaves the dock on a sight fishing day, he’ll have the following Strike King baits tied onto rods; Rage Tail Lizard (watermelon red or green pumpkin), with the tail dipped in chartreuse dye; Rage Tail Craw (white); Bleeding Bait tube (white with some red); 10-inch Thumper Worm (black/blue); and Hack Attack Jig (white) with a Rage Tail Craw (white).

“Lure color generally isn’t as important as is your ability to see the bait and know when the bass sucks it in,” he says. “That’s why I like lighter colors on small baits or will add some chartreuse to the tails of others.”

However, he says there are days when color or lure size make a difference. Baits that undulate or move with natural water currents while sitting still can aggravate a bass into biting. “If a fish is locked on there and big enough to fool with, keep experimenting with baits until you hit one that the bass seems to notice more,” Grigsby says. “It can be a nerve-racking process, but big ones make it worthwhile.”

10. Avoid heavy lures

Bass often spawn around wood and rocks. For that reason, Grigsby rigs his plastics with 3/8- or 1/2-ounce sinkers, preferring the lighter of the two in shallow water.

“Heavier weights can cause the lure to snag easier, and the last thing you want to do is disturb the bed environment,” he explains. “That’s a sure way to mess up your chances of catching a big fish.”

Originally published March 2012