photo of mourning doves

This time of year, spawning bluegills will move to the shorelines of lakes and ponds. Their bedding sites can be prime locations to catch largemouth bass. And with many reservoir anglers now focusing on open-water schools of baitfish, you might have these seasonal hotspots all to yourself.

Preoccupied with procreation, bedding bream provide a reliable source of forage for bass in well-defined areas, typically along gently sloping shorelines with sandy bottoms rimmed by aquatic vegetation. Polarized glasses will help you spot the plate-size bluegill beds in 3 to 6 feet of water; look for light-colored ovals. Bass may be lurking in the moss and grass along the edges, waiting to ambush a square meal.

Once you find a promising cove or backwater, tie on baits that “match the hatch.” Good choices include shallow-running crank-baits, lipless swimming plugs, spinnerbaits, and some swimbaits. Topwater and floating-diving plugs are often effective early and late in the day, especially under cloud cover. Your goal is to imitate a crippled bluegill, so pick color combinations of green and yellow. Consider buying several specific sunfish-pattern plugs or spinnerbaits, such as Castaic’s Sun-fish and Baby Sunfish and Secret Weapon’s Green Sunfish spinnerbait.

Before your first cast, make sure that your tackle is sturdy and your knots are secure. Take a good pull on the reel’s drag to confirm that the line will slip under a determined tug. Mature bedding bream in the 4- to 6-inch class attract some of the top-end sows in a given lake or pond. The action may not be fast, but your next strike may come from the best fish of the season.