Bothering bass on the beds

Whenever we talk about bed fishing for bass the ethics question always comes up. Should we do it? Is it the right thing to do?

I’ll tell you that I don’t see anything wrong with catching bass off their beds. It doesn’t hurt a thing. At best, we only catch a tiny, tiny percentage of the bass in any body of water this way. A few females one way or the other has no effect on the overall bass population in any given lake or river.

We all like to think that what we do is important. We want to believe that our actions have great impact on something. The truth is that most of what we do doesn’t matter. We’re not as important as we’d like to think we are.

Bedding bass aren’t feeding bass. They don’t eat. If we’re going to catch them we have to make them grab our lures out of frustration or trigger their protective instinct.

I always use big baits. Little baits don’t seem to interest the big females. I look at that like a mother with her little kids at a playground. If another mother comes by with a couple more little kids, she won’t pay any attention to them. They pose no threat.

But, let an old man wearing a wrinkled trench coat or a big guy covered in tattoos start hanging around her kids and most moms go into their protective mode. She’ll watch every move he makes and she’ll get aggressive if she thinks it’s necessary.

You have to work a big bass the same way. Put something into her bed that looks and acts like a threat to her eggs — big, bad and ugly.

My No. 1 bait is a 7-inch white tube. The ones I’m using are made by Mizmo. (They don’t call it white. They call it ghost.) It’s big and it’s bad. It looks like something that could destroy her nest and eat her eggs if given the chance. That’s perfect. It’s exactly what I want her to think.

Another good lure is a Missile Baits D Bomb. It’s big and nasty looking but what I really like about it is that the tail waves around even when the lure is sitting perfectly still. Any of Missile's brighter colors will work.

The reason I fish with white or bright lures has nothing to do with the bass. It’s so I can see my lure and have better control over it. Color doesn’t matter much when you’re bed fishing.

My tackle is pretty basic. I use a 12/0 Gamakatsu hook, a 1/2-ounce River2Sea tungsten weight and I spool my reel with 65-pound-test Maxima braid. I do not use a leader.

I Texas rig my plastics and toss them right into the bed. Once they settle down I fish them in different ways that I think will look like a threat to the female. Sometimes I drag them; sometimes I hop them; sometimes I swim them around.

If I can’t get her attention that way, I get more aggressive. I’ll swim the lures right into the side of her head, or I might hop the bait right at her until it hits her on the nose. The idea is to start a fight. I want her to get sick and tired of fooling with that crazy thing or get scared that it’s going to cause real trouble for her eggs.

Do not hook her in the side of her head or outside her mouth. We fish. We don’t snag.