Spawning skill sets

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Bassmaster Marshal

In my spare time, one of my hobbies is poker — Texas hold ‘em. When I lived in New York, I was close to a casino so I played a lot and even competed in tournaments.

You hear a lot of people talk about Lady Luck, but this guy is not lucky. If I don’t make it happen, it doesn’t happen. I have to take the luck out of it and rely on my skill sets.

The same thought applies to the bass spawn. Do anglers luck into a good bed fish bite? Sure they do, but I would rather focus on making the right decisions to give myself the best opportunities possible.

I do this by addressing three key elements:

Position

First and foremost, I want to look in areas with the right water temperature. That varies a little across the country, but it needs to be 60 degrees or above in most places. Once the water temperature reaches 58-59, you’ll have cruisers coming in and starting to set up, but at 60 degrees, it all starts to happen.

A good spawning area has to have protected water, but I always monitor the wind exposure. Even in a protected cove, if you have a hard wind blowing into the area, you can forget about it because spawning fish need clean water.

They also need hard bottom, so I’m going to look for sand, rock, hard clay; anything but mud. You might also find spawners on the insides of docks, along the walkways or the dark bunks.

Sometimes, you’ll find docks with cement pads or rocks that homeowners add for stability — these can also serve bass spawning needs. Even a stick or a clump of grass is worth investigating.

Timing

Sun exposure is a key determination for where and when the bass spawn, so at sunup, I’m looking for those south facing pockets which will see the sun first and receive its warmth the longest.

As the sun gets higher, it opens up more potential by shining over more of the pocket. I wouldn’t necessarily abandon those south-facing banks; I’d just expand my search into other areas. 

Baits and presentation

My bait selection will depend on whether I’m searching for bed fish, or if I’ve found some to sight fish. When I’m searching, I’ve always done well with a white fluke. I’ll throw it around the sides of cover and sometimes, the fish will show themselves by swirling on the bait.

A floating worm also does a good job here and if there’s a little stain in the water, I might try a spinnerbait, a Pop-R or a prop bait. Sometimes, they’ll actually bite these baits, but I just need them to give away their position.

For me, it’s all about stealth. If I’m running a bank and looking, I want to be throwing something ahead of me. I don’t want the fish to see me before I see them, so I want to creep along, instead of running up there on high.

I’ve tried several baits for sight fishing, but I’ve had my best results with a Riot Baits Little Fuzzy Beaver. I’ll Texas rig it on a 5/0 hook with a 3/16-ounce Riot Baits tungsten weight and pitch it to bedding fish. 

This bait is light and super compact, so it’s easy to fish. Plus, my hook-up percentage is great because of the bait’s size. 

Remember, fishing with confidence is no different than playing poker with confidence. You want to remove the luck factor and rely on your good decisions.