How to Catch Spawning Bass Along Shorelines & Flats

You can randomlycast to shoreline areas and pick up a bedded bass or two, but you'll increaseyour hookups by taking a methodical approach.

First, know thatspawning bass are not all alike. One will jump all over your lure, and anotherthat's nearby will flat ignore it. To become a more productive fisherman,determine which fish are worth casting to and which you should just pass by.Here's how.

Put on yourpolarized sunglasses, turn the electric motor on high speed, and buzz throughshallow protected coves and open flats--anywhere bass may be spawning. Watchclosely how bass react to the approaching boat. You can use your observationsto choose which ones to target.

JUDGING BEDDEDBASS Here are three rules of thumb for deciding which bed to fish:

[1] If a bassbolts off its bed as your boat zips past, it will be tough to catch when itreturns.

[2] If it movesslowly off its bed and immediately returns, it can be coaxed into biting.

[3] If it remainslocked on its bed as you cruise by, it will be easy pickings.

In each case,resist the urge to cast to these bass right away or they may associate the lurewith your boat and become impossible to catch. Instead, mark several promisingbeds by noting landmarks or by dropping a small marker buoy right next toeach.

THE APPROACH After you've toured the spawning area and have picked out the largest of themost catchable bass, rest the fish for a few minutes. Then sneak back to pickthem off. The key here is to move in only a little at a time. At first, stayback far enough that you can't see the bed but can cast to it. This preventsthe bass from spotting you and makes it much more likely to bite. For starters,it's hard to beat a Texas-rigged lizard or tube.

If you don't geta response after six casts or so, slowly ease toward the bed until you're justclose enough to make out the bass. Now you can cast to specific points on thebed and watch how the fish reacts to your bait. If it begins to swim around orseems otherwise agitated, keep doing what you're doing. Otherwise, work adifferent part of the bed, or try a different lure, such as a finesse worm on adrop-shot rig.

The tactic isn'tfoolproof, but if one bass isn't as cooperative as you hoped, all you have todo is move on to the next fish.

The Spinnerbait Zone Not sure how fast or deep to run your spinnerbaits under varying conditions?Tennessee bass pro Charlie Ingram has an easy way to find the zone. "Wearpolarized sunglasses, stand up, and cast to likely cover," he says."Then begin your retrieve, watching the lure all the way. Speed and depthare right when you catch only an occasional glimpse of those bladesflashing."