Ish Monroe, six-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier, offers 5 tips that'll make bedding bass bite. He says that by following them he's been able to boat 95 out of every 100 bed fish he's found over the past several years.
Here are his tips for catching bedding bass:
1. Go big or go home.
Monroe sees bait size as the single most important factor in making bed fish bite. His first — and only — lure choice is an Ish Tube made by Picasso. It's a 7 1/2-inch monster that creates a serious presence in the water. He uses it on all size bass — 2 pounds or 12 pounds, it makes no difference.
"I want them to feel threatened; puny baits won't do that. I throw a white tube almost all of the time because it makes a striking visual presence.
"The bass has to believe she's under attack. If I want something a little more subtle — and that's not often — I'll switch to a watermelon hue. I never downsize. I want them feeling threatened about what's in their nest."
2. Heavy tackle is a must.
Monroe's tackle is for serious anglers only. He throws his tube with an 8-foot Daiwa Steez flipping stick and a Daiwa Steez reel (7:1 gear ratio) spooled with at least 50-pound-test PowerPro braid. He arms his tube with a 12/0 hook and weights everything down with a minimum 1-ounce weight.
"I'm not fishing beds with anything less than serious tackle. This isn't a finesse presentation. It's about getting her attention and then getting her to my boat and safely in my livewell."
3. First drop it in the middle of her bed.
Ish's first cast to the bed is centered. He drops it right in the middle of the nest and then watches the bass closely for a reaction.
"I watch to see if she's interested. If I get any reaction out of her at all I'll try to hop it in place for a while to see if I can make her eat it. Some of them will hit it hard; others gently pick it up and try to move it out of the way. Regardless, I usually have an opportunity for a hookset. If I don't, I hit her over the head. This is not about being subtle. It's about getting her attention."
4. Then hit her over the head.
When that doesn't work Monroe goes for a full, overhead assault.
"If she won't pick it up when it's hopping in her bed I reel it in and flip or pitch it right over her head. I bounce my tube and weight off the top of her skull. Sometimes I hit them fairly hard. That'll make them bite almost all the time. They think they're under attack at that point. It's a matter of self-defense, pure and simple."
5. Manage your time effectively.
Monroe warns anglers not to get too fixated on one bedding bass, however. Just because you can see her doesn't mean you have to catch her. He says that the longest he's ever fished for a bedding bass was an hour and a half — and that was a true monster. He estimates she would have weighed well over 12 pounds. Most days he limits himself to just a few minutes with one fish.
"That's only common sense. In most of the tournaments I fish, a 2-pound bass isn't worth much. Why would I spend time on her if she's not going to help me win? You must balance your time against the size of the fish. Don't let the fact that you can see a fish mess with your head. In a tournament it's all about weight. It's easy to lose sight of that if you aren't careful.