As the majority of the country either already finished the spawn or is just about to begin the swing of things, I wanted to touch base on how I approach the spawn and how fishing tournaments on new bodies of water during this period can a great experience.
First, there are millions of opinions on how to approach bed fishing and it would take a novel to cover them all. I will touch based on the three tactics I employ to trigger a strike on bed fish. First, after you have spotted the bed and located the fish, the initial cast I make is past the bed allowing me to work the bait into the bed. To do this I use a J&J Jig in a 5/16 oz size paired with a Mountaineer Custom Rod with 14 pound Gamma edge. Note, the jig itself I trim the skirt to make this a very finesse jig, the skirt is only about an inch long at its longest strand. I then pair this jig with a Reins Ring Craw. The Ring Crawl is very buoyant and when you craw and stop the jig the Ring Craw stands up adding extra action. My first cast is always with this jig usually the fish strike this jig.
The second technique if they are not communist to the jig is a light Texas rigged wormed with a 3/16 Reins tungsten. Fish will nose down on a 3-4 inch senko type bait and if you up your hook one size, when the fish picks the worm up to move it off the bed they grab the hook. Third, the 1,2 punch. I say this because when the fish is fired up and running enemies off the bed, a first throw a weight fluke type bait, something like an Optimum Opti Shad, and twitch it aggressively toward the bed. If the fish hit it but does not eat it I immediately throw in a wacky rig. This year I utilized a Reins Swamp Mover, this bait in a medium size has an aggressive but subtle action when floating and twitched. I throw this right into the bed after firing the fish up with the jerkbait. (all of these products can be found on tacklewarehouse or reins website)
Fishing tournaments during the spawn on new bodies of water allows you to quickly identify unproductive water and replicate areas and patterns across a lake. This past month I competed in the BASS Carhart College Regional on Lake Norman in NC. This tournament went from prespawn to full spawn in 4 days and tested me in my ability to deviate from prefishing to analyzing current conditions . In summary, my prefish the weekend prior yielded winning stringers of prespawn spotted bass up the river on main river points with an Alabama rig. When we went back for our one day of practice before the event water temps rose 10 degrees.
We couldn’t locate any bedding fish and our prespawn bite was nonexistent. What we did do was study our navionics overlay and look for possible spawning areas with docks. We fan casted and skipped docks near sand and natural rock adjacent to deep water. We fished entirely new water both days of the two day tournament. We caught upwards of 60 fish a day but the majority were bucks and we couldn’t locate more then 4 females a day. However, we fished areas solely by looking at lake contours, never having prefished. This was an incredible learning experience. Although we fell around a pound short, fishing 14 out of 62 when the top 12 made the nationals, we were able to be consistent fishing entirely new water. This bodes large amounts of confidence for the remainder of the season.
Dissecting water, utilizing our electronics, and having the proper equipment was crucial. This tournament utilized three baits and set ups, 7′ med hev Mountaineer Custom spinning rod, with 10# Gamma Torque with an 8# Gamma edge leader attached to a 5 inch finesse worm. A 6’6″ med hev Mountaineer Custom dock skipping special rod, with 10# Gamma Torque with an 8# Gamma edge leader attached to a wacky rig. And a 7′ med hev Mountaineer Custom all purpose rod paired with a Shimano Core with 10# Gamma Edge with a 3/16 Reins tungstens Texas rig.