Outdoors: Best ways to catch elusive bedding bass

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 18, 2006

All up and down the Coosa River the largemouth bass are in the bedding process.

They may be preparing to spawn, are spawning, or are finished.

Whatever the case may be, it is definitely happening on Lay Lake.

I witnessed a nice female bass on the bed yesterday on a guide trip that was so shallow that when she moved, her dorsal fins and top part of her tail would come out of the water.

By the time the day had disappeared, I had seen over 16 bass on the bed preparing to spawn.

Now there is an old theory that when the bass go &8220;on bed&8221; to spawn that they are virtually impossible to catch.

In the 30-plus years of bass fishing either on my own or professionally, I have never seen a bass that could not be caught off of her bed.

I have taught seminars around the country and the question comes up on how to get that bedding bucket mouth.

Here are some tricks that might help you catch (and hopefully release) that big largemouth.

The boat: This is more important than you might think.

Turn off all of your electronics!

You know how shallow it is anyway and I don&8217;t think you need to know what the water temperature is at that point.

Your depth finders make noise that bass do not like in very shallow water.

This &8220;ticking&8221; you hear from your depth finder will spook the bass.

Also, tread lightly in your boat.

In other words, don&8217;t make noise by closing rod lockers, storage boxes, etc.

Walk lightly and don&8217;t drop items on the deck of the boat.

It is also a good idea to raise your outboard motor and in some cases the trolling motor.

The lures: Here are the baits of choices we used on the B.A.S.S. circuit for bedding bass.

Start with an eight to eleven inch lizard with a 1/16-ounce bullet weight fished on 10 pound line.

The female will try to blow the object out of the bed rather than pick it up or bite it.

So, if the big plastics don&8217;t work try a 1 1/2-ounce pig &8216;n jig.

Here is the reason for this big a bait.

She cannot blow it out of the bed and will have to pick it up to move it out.

Be ready.

She will do this quickly.

Other things to consider: Your clothes should not be bright in color.

Wear white, light blue or gray.

Stay as far away from the bed as possible.

Use good polarized sunglasses like Costa Del Mar for sight fishing.

They are a must.

Finally, take a photograph and release your trophy.

You can always get a reproduction made.

Lay Lake

Water temp: 68

Clarity is slightly stained

Largemouth are bedding and they are being caught on large plastics and flukes.

Topwater baits have been very good early in pockets and back in creeks.

Also try spinnerbaits and shallow diving crankbaits in pearl/chartreuse and crawfish color.

Spotted bass are very good upriver on crankbaits and topwater early.

Sassy shads and swim baits are taking good size spots above the Hwy 280 bridge.

Creeks to try for largemouth include Cedar, Spring, Peckerwood, Kahatchee and Waxahatchee.

Mitchell Lake

Water temp: 69

Clarity is clear

Largemouth bass are also bedding here.

The same patterns will work as the ones on Lay Lake.

Look in the pockets of Cargile Creek, Hatchet Creek and Airplane Slough.

White spinnerbaits are taking big numbers of bass around the weeds all day.

Spotted bass are excellent in the pockets off of the main river on rattletraps and topwater.

Look for schooling shad and the bass will be close by or underneath.

Crankbaits and Little George&8217;s are taking nice spots on Mitchell.

Chris Stephenson works as an outdoors guide and is a former competitor on the Bassmasters Tour