One of my favorite ways to fish is bed fishing.
It really comes down to a battle of wits between you and the fish, and it’s really a one on one game – much more so than any other time of the year. Bed fishing is really one of those unique situations where you and the fish are literally looking at each other, and you’re trying to entice a reaction from that fish in order to catch it. I’ve spent a lot of time wasted on fish who really won’t touch anything, but it took learning the body language of that fish to see if she’s ready for the game.
I’ve seen a lot of people who don’t understand this entirely,
so I want to cover some basics of what to watch for. First, the fish needs to be locked onto the bed. If they truly are locked onto the bed, it really would take you throwing a hand grenade into the water to get them off of it. For example, this weekend while getting ready to shoot some underwater footage, I dropped my Power Poles and started setting up my equipment. While sitting there, about five feet down on a ledge I noticed a buck that simply would not move. The boat was literally sitting on top of him and with the wind I was no where near being quiet. The fish did not care, it was protecting its bed. I suppose this was for good reason, the bream and cichlids were everywhere in that area and they are relentless.
After noticing this I decided to drop a shaky head on the bed to see how the fish responded. The fish nosed down and started following it. Now, because of where the bed was and how strong the wind was that day, I had a hard time discerning what exactly was the bed. This is important because the bass won’t defend the bed against potential intruders who aren’t on it. They will largely ignore things all around the bed, until the intruder actually invades their space. Once I identified exactly where the bed was I was able to entice some reaction.
In this situation, they’re not biting to eat.
They are literally looking to move the intruder out of their home. This can be pretty frustrating as they often will grab the back end of the bait and simply move it off the bed. So, keep that in mind. This is why I like small baits, like our bed fishing specific Bubble Gum Bruiser Baits Intruder. I also put them on a Flat Out Tungsten shaky head. It has to appear to be nose down on the bed eating the eggs. Once you get that bait on the bed you need to watch that fish and see how it responds. A positive response would be nose down on the bait, looking at it. Or if they leave the bed, they will quickly turn around and face it to inspect the intentions of the intruder.
If the fish hits your bait, but only takes a leg or appendage,
don’t worry about getting a new bait on there. The act of imitating a small fish eating eggs is far more important than the actual look of the bait overall. At this point it becomes the game of carefully observing the fish and its reaction to the bait. Many times you will not feel the bite, it’s you simply seeing the flare of their gills indicating they sucked it in. Don’t be afraid to set the hook at this point. But be cognizant of the fact this can result in hooking them outside the mouth on occasion. At that point it becomes an illegal catch and you just wasted 20 minutes on a bed fish.
Another good method for bed fishing is the drop shot. I like it because you can put the weight in the middle of the bed and move the bait around the edges without losing that anchoring position. It’s a good method for keeping the bait “Alive” without having to disturb the water too often with recasting. Speaking of the casting to a bed. ALWAYS cast well past the bed and bring the bait to it. Often times the splash directly above it will result in a spooked fish and a lost opportunity, and honestly the bigger fish will spook off the bed much more easily than any small buck.
These are some tips on bed fishing, it’s a practice and it takes time to fully be able to read the body language of the fish, but it’s well worth it and is one hell of a game. For more information on bed fishing, check out my episode of #DeckTopTalks from last spring entitled Blind Bed Fishing. I go into detail about how to bed fish an area, even if you can’t fully see where the beds are.