Roust Them Out of Bed

How to get spring largemouths to wake up and eat.

Field & Stream Online Editors

Sometimes bedding bass are so easy to catch they seem suicidal. In many instances, however, they won't let you get close enough to sight-cast to them. You glimpse a vanishing shadow when you approach a bed, and the fish refuses to return until you leave. These "ghost" bass can be caught, provided you back away where they are less likely to detect your presence. This strategy pays off big time for noted Kentucky bass pro Mark Menendez.

"A bass contrasts starkly against a light bed and is easy to see," Menendez says. "But most anglers overlook big females that hold off to one side of the bed over a darker bottom."

To spot these heavyweights, Menendez eases barely within sight of a bed and studies the water surrounding it. He wears amber polarized sunglasses because they are unsurpassed for revealing the green hues of a bass.

"Seeing bass at the edge of your perception is all about learning what to look for," he says. "A shadow here, a subtle movement there. You often can't make out the shape of the bass, but you are given enough clues to tell you the fish is present." When he sees a bass, Menendez waits until the fish turns and faces the bed. Then he casts beyond the bass and retrieves the lure, often a Texas-rigged tube, right into the bass' face.

"If you can get the bass into a position where she has to nab the bait or get out of the way, she'll grab it every time."

When bass won't tolerate even this limited invasion of their space, Menendez places a bobber, attached to a short line and sinker, at the left or right edge of every bed he finds. After waiting 20 minutes or more, he returns to fish the beds blind. The bobbers tell him exactly where to cast.

"I pitch past the bed if possible and drag the tube through it," Menendez says. "I fish slowly, keeping constant contact with the bottom while shaking the rod tip to make a commotion."

Another ploy is to drop a tube directly into the center of a bed, and to back out of sight while peeling line off the reel. Menendez then sits back and waits. He once had time to casually eat two slices of pizza and down a soda before a 6-pound largemouth pounced on his bait.