How To Catch Bass on Beds: Spring Bass Fishing

If you're Spring bass fishing one place to consider fishing is spawning beds. Strategies for catching bass on beds in most instances is simple. Find the spot, be consistently annoying like a younger sibling with a trumpet, and you will be knee deep in earth shattering hooksets, stiff armed photos for Instagram, and fun!

Finding Beds


Both small and largemouth beds are easy to find once you know when to start looking and what to look for. Bass start bedding in spring when the water temp inches towards the sixty-degree mark. However, other variables can change that water temp a bit. In Florida, for instance, they might start spawning in warmer water like 65 degrees, but in Minnesota, they might start at 57. Cold snaps and unseasonably warm weather can change things by a couple of weeks, but bass spawn around the same time of year. So, once you get them dialed in, you'll know about what time to start looking in future years.


Gauging water temp as a shore angler without a thermometer in your pocket is tough. Yes, they do make little pocket thermometers which can be helpful for a few different applications. Still, you don't have to go that route unless you want to. The fishing world is full of amazing folks working at retail locations or smaller mom and pop tackle shops with a wealth of information to share. Head into your local tackle shop or tackle retailer and ask the folks working there about the bass spawn. Chances are you will get the low down on when to start looking for bass on beds. Another route to get local fishing knowledge on the bass spawn is to join online fishing communities in your area like Facebook fishing groups.


Generally speaking, bass bed in less than 5 feet of water. Once you know what you're looking for, their beds stick out like a sore thumb. Like a perfectly cleaned crop circle in the middle of an unkempt forest… it's unmistakable. On smaller bodies of water like ponds they'll spawn all over. In bigger bodies of water like reservoirs your best bet is to head to the back of coves to look for beds. The beds themselves are little circular areas of clean bottom bass have created by fanning the bottom with their tails. These beds are easier to spot even in gin clear water with polarized glasses (they reduce glare making it easier to see the bottom).


Most of the beds out here in Colorado (home of Eagle Claw!) are in less than 3 feet of water. Still, we do have a few ultra-clear reservoirs where smallmouth bass will bed in water deeper than 10-15 FOW (feet of water). The vast majority of you reading this will find bedding bass near you in water less than 5 FOW but know there are instances they do bed deeper.

To summarizing finding beds:

  • Spring
  • Water Temp around 60 degrees
  • Back of coves in larger bodies of water
  • All around ponds
  • Most of the time, less than 5 FOW
  • Clean circular spots
  • Polarized glasses are a must

Catching Bedding Bass

You've found a bed, and there's a few bass surrounding it. The male, usually the smaller of the two, is locked on the bed, and the female (bigger bass) is lurking past the bed in deeper water. Even for seasoned pros it's hard not to get too excited like a spazzy twelve-year-old all hopped up on mountain dew in this situation, but before you cast take a few minutes to watch what's going on. Watch how the bass on or around the bed work in conjunction to protect the bed from intruders looking for an easy meal. The male will often attack anything near the bed, but the female will be more selective. You are trying to learn the balance between the two to formulate where to start your attack. For most of us, the goal is to catch the female (bigger bass), so noticing the areas on or around the bed that trigger her to attack is vital.


Now that you've studied a bit, it's time to cast, but keep in mind learning and adapting isn't over yet. Often there's a particular spot on a bed that will trigger bass to attack your bait viciously. Two inches left or right of the trigger spots, some fish will peck at your offering or even pick it up and attempt to move it, but once you hit that trigger spot, it's a different ball game. Knowing that, consider there can be a trigger spot for the male and another trigger spot for the female. The best way to identify these spots is to watch their body language while working a bait throughout the bed. They start getting fired up and anxious when your bait nears the trigger spots. The more they circle aggressively as their fins flutter with anxiety the closer you're getting…As you hit the spot their instincts override any apprehension that keeps them from attacking your artificial offering anywhere else. I'm not saying you can't catch fish off a bed without hitting that once specific spot. You certainly can, but if you've been working a fish for over five minutes without even getting nipped chances are you aren't finding the trigger spot.

Fired up

Another tactic to get bedding bass to pop is to annoy them until they reach a boiling point. Typing that feels like it isn't the most ethical thing in the world an angler can do, but it sounds much worse than it is. If you can't find the trigger spot on a bed you can keep bringing your presentation across the bed near the bass quickly until they start getting annoyed to the point they hit out of frustration. This is another situation where you'll need to watch the fish's body language to gauge whether or not annoying it will work. If I've been working a fish for a few minutes and its body language hasn't changed, I move on to the next bed. Of course, the time I'll spend on one fish changes drastically depending on its size. I'd spend a week trying to get a teener to get fired up, but only a few minutes on a two-pounder.

Tackle Selection

I'm sure by now, many of you are wondering why we haven't talked about tackle yet. Tackle selection is extremely important to capitalize on opportunities while you're bed fishing. I would argue that learning bass behaviors, body language, and triggers are much more critical to getting bit than using a specific bait. 


A good thing to look for in a presentation for targeting bedding bass is efficiency or the ability to manipulate the action of a bait without moving it forward. When it comes to efficiency, it's hard to beat a Texas Rigged craw on a TK110 or TK120. You can quickly pitch this set up past a bed, drag it across searching for the trigger spot, and repeat as many times as needed in quick succession. On the other side of the spectrum, a drop shot rigged on a TK150 is perfect for suspending a bait an inch or so above the bottom where it'll dance just above the bed, driving bedding bass crazy. Another solid option that gives you the best of both worlds is a wacky rigged soft plastic stick bait with a nail weight in one end on a TK137 (call it a Neko rig if you're fancy). This setup can be worked quickly and can also dance with twitches of the rod where it'll dance while staying in one spot.


Many folks prefer white when it comes to selecting the color of soft plastics to use when targeting bedding bass. It's not that one color outshines all others in bed fishing situations for scientific reasons. Many of us prefer using white baits when bed fishing simply because they're easier for us to see. There might be certain situations where you're targeting fish that receive a ton of pressure where using natural colors is better. For the vast majority of situations, white is a great option. Of course, water clarity can come into play too. If you're fishing stained water, switch over and use black soft plastics for the presentations mentioned above.


Catching bass off beds is a ton of fun, but we're toying with the future of our fisheries while doing so. Knowing this, conservation-minded anglers can do a few things to make sure their impact on the spawn in their area is minimal. Here are a few things I like to do to keep a clear conscience and have fun catching bedding bass.

  • Catch and Release: Have fun, get great photos for memories to look back on later, and then quickly release fish to ensure fun fishing opportunities for generations to come.


  • Be Ready: We live in a social media world. Everyone loves a great pic to throw on their Instagram or Facebook pages. Knowing you have an opportunity to break your personal best or a photo opportunity with big bass, have your camera gear ready. If you're alone, have a camera or your phone set up on a tripod with a timer set. If you're with a buddy, have whatever you're taking pictures with easily accessible and talk about your photo game plan after landing the fish. This will result in better photos, a quicker catch/photo/release process, and minimizing the time the fish is away from the better.


A great rule to live by is one breath of time before the fish has to be back in the water. When you pull the fish out of the water, start holding your breath. By the time you have to gasp for air, the angler should place the fish back in the water. I know many people might think this is crazy and not enough time to get a great picture, but you'd be surprised how fast it goes when you're prepared.


  • Once is enough: I can't tell you how many times I've seen a person catch the same fish off of a bed multiple times in one day. I could list all the reasons this isn't a best practice, but I'm sure most of you understand why it's terrible.


  • Leave fish actively spawning alone: When they're paired up and doing their thing, they're better left alone. Let them successfully spawn without hassle to ensure a bright future for the fishery.

 Once you learn how to read bass body language and identify trigger spots on a bed, you'll be able to catch bass off beds with the best of them! If you have any questions post them in the comment section below, we'd love to help!

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