Bass at Depth

How to catch spawning bass you can't see.

Field & Stream Online Editors

If you're having trouble catching spawning bass in shallow water, you shouldn't be surprised. These fish are the most obvious targets for anglers and are quickly harassed to the point of becoming skittish. When this happens, change your plan, and go deeper.

Bass do not all spawn at the same depth, and those bedding in deeper water are usually more difficult to see. Anglers, therefore, tend to overlook them, which in turn makes them more responsive to your lures.

**Where to Look **
The biggest challenge in catching deeper spawners is spotting the fish. Typically, you'll see them best on clear days during midday, when sunlight penetrates farthest beneath the surface. Even then, don a pair of quality polarized glasses. Most pros go with amber-colored lenses, shaded by a brimmed cap.

Many anglers fail to see deep spawners because they look for a whole bass. More often, a slight movement, a flash, or a shadow will tip you off. With a little practice, you can spot beds 5 to 8 feet deep in clear water.

If you can't, try retrieving a big soft-plastic swimbait, like a 9-inch Osprey Talon, near the surface along the deeper portions of spawning areas (such as protected coves). Bedded bass may dart up and nab the lure, but they will more often roll under the bait without touching it. Mark that spot, move a little closer, and you should be able to make out the bed.

Tackle and Lures
Though you often can't fish a deep bed as precisely as a shallow one, you rarely need to. Shaking a Texas-rigged tube, lizard, or craw anywhere on a deep bed should get the desired response. A white or other highly visible lure can make this tactic easier.

Deep spawners aren't line-shy, so use a flipping stick, 20-pound fluorocarbon line, and a 1/4-ounce or heavier bullet sinker. You'll have a hard time placing and keeping a lighter weight on a deep bed. And you may need that heavy tackle to haul in your trophy.