Sight fishing for bass can be rewarding yet challenging. The excitement of seeing bass and preparing to catch them versus the difficult task of not spooking them presents a unique situation that every bass angler relishes.
Sight fishing can mean different things to different anglers. In this article, I’ll focus on sight fishing primarily as it relates to bed fishing for bass and the best lures for catching spawning largemouth bass.
Spawning bass can be locked onto beds at certain phases of the bedding cycle. At other times, they can be very skittish and easily spooked. By observing their temperament, you’ll be able to determine which phase of the cycle they’re likely in. Understanding the phase is CRITICAL to choosing the right bait and approaching the bed correctly.
Bass are generally going to be more sensitive to a certain part of the bed. When you hit that spot with your bait repeatedly or for prolonged periods of time, you’re more likely to entice a bedding bass to bite. I’ll be referring to that special area as the sweet spot from here on out.
Although there are practically infinite ways to catch bass off of beds, I’ll focus on 11 of the best sight fishing baits for bass.
1. Soft Plastic Lizard for Sight Fishing for Spawning Bass
Soft plastic lizards are a go-to bait for many anglers when sight fishing for bass. They are a preferred bait for a variety of reasons. First, they are able to be fished quietly without spooking off waiting fish. Second, lizards have appendages that shimmer in the water which sparks the curiosity of bass. Lizards are normally fished Texas rigged. White is a great color so you can easily see when the bedding bass eats.
2. Topwater is an Effective Lure For Sight Fishing for Bass
Topwater has a particular purpose when it comes to bed fishing and sight fishing. Use topwater to elicit bites from males that are protecting beds from perceived predators. Also, use topwater to cover water around the beds looking for the bigger females to come out of hiding.
When using topwater to catch spawning bass, a slower retrieve is usually in order as you’re trying to entice a bass to bite rather than spark a reaction bite.
3. Use a Finesse Tube Bait to Catch Bass in the Spawn
Tube baits are a great choice when spawning bass appear to be particularly finicky or easily spooked. Perhaps, bass are in a highly pressured area or they’ve been approached by multiple fishermen throughout the day.
In these kinds of situations, going to more of a finesse presentation with lighter gear, lighter line, and a smaller tube bait could do the trick. Check out Bass Fishing Insider’s article Bass Fishing With Ultralight Gear (Are You Missing Out?) with a special mention of its use for spawning bass.
I recommend using a white tube bait so that you can easily identify when the bass has committed to your bait. Many times, bedding bass will pick a bait and spit it back out to move it off of the bed. With a white bait, you’ll be able to tell when the fish has eaten the bait for long enough for a hookset.
4. Use a Drop Shot to Sight Fish for Spawning Bass
Like the tube bait presentation from above, a drop shot rigged with a soft plastic is an excellent finesse, sight fishing tactic to catch bedding bass. Drop shots are a little different because the bait stays off of the bottom longer. The drop shot is also designed so that the bait will “stay in the zone” for a prolonged period of time.
Your bait stays in the zone longer because of the unique way that a drop shot is weighted with distance between the weight and the actual bait.
Once again, a white bait works well so you can easily identify the best moment to engage with a hook sweep.
5. Texas Rig Worms Catch Bass During the Spawn
At the forefront of your bed fishing setups should be a rod ready to go with an old reliable – the Texas Rig Worm. The versatility and reliability of this bait are virtually unmatched.
The setup allows you to tailor the weight to the right size so you can keep the worm on the bed for the maximum amount of time. Slowly dragging the worm through the bed will help you to identify the sweet spot. Once you know where that is, you can choose to stick with the worm to finish the job or go to something like a tube bait or other low profile offering to change things up to elicit the final bite.
Bass are known to engulf a bait only to spit it back out to move it off of the bed in their attempt to protect the area. Bass do smell bait. Using a scented soft plastic may not only increase initial attraction by bass to the bait but may also increase “grab” time. Proponents claim that bass will hold onto these scented baits longer.
Bass Fishing Insider has a great article, “Do Bass Smell Bait?” Check it out. It’s full of science, details, and SURPRISING information about how to use scent to your advantage.
6. Shaky Head Worms Are Your Ally When Sight Fishing
Shaky head worms are perfect for bass fishing. They offer the stealth of a finesse presentation with the bulk of a meal big enough to tempt large bass. Of particular value is the ability to work a shaky head as it is intended: nose down.
By slowly dragging the shaky head across the bed, you’ll be able to reveal the sweet spot as you sight fish then pause the worm in that area to grab the attention of the bass which should result in a caught fish.
7. Employ this Finesse Bait for Sight Fishing: Floating Worms
Floating worms are about as quiet a bait as it gets. They are a good bait when the wind is at a minimum and wakes are slim to none because any commotion could move a floating worm out of the bed zone.
The floating worm may be just the right twist to try on a highly pressured bedding bass.
8. Use a Stick Bait to Sight Fish for Spawning Bass
Stick worms (baits) like Senkos or Berkleys’ Maxscent General are perfect soft plastic options for bedding bass. They can be fished Texas rig style or even wacky rigged. Opt for Texas Rig with a small weight (3/16 ounce) when the fish is locked on so you can work the bait into the sweet spot of the bed longer.
If bass are in and out of the bed and not as tuned in to the sweet spot, then an unweighted wacky-rigged presentation may be a better fit.
9. Tie on a Creature Baits for Sight Fishing During the Spawn
Soft plastic creature baits serve a purpose similar to lizards. With multiple appendages, creature baits offer visible cues to bass to entice them to bite. The difference between most lizard-style baits and creature baits is their size. Creature baits may be a better fit for finicky fish when a smaller profile is in order.
10. Use Jigs to Sight Fish for Bass
Jigs are a great lure for spawning largemouth bass because they are an excellent bait for imitating bluegill which threatens spawning bass naturally by eating eggs from beds. Because of the perceived threat of bluegill (the jig), bass can become very protective and will hit jigs aggressively out of a self-preserving defensive instinct. Jigs are best fished for spawning bass in a bluegill imitating color.
11. Big Swimbaits for Sight Fishing for Bass
Big swimbaits grab big attention. Sometimes, bass on beds just seem completely disinterested. Enter the big swimbait. When bass resist other conventional offerings, try tying on a big swimbait. White is a great choice as is anything that resembles bluegill for the reasons mentioned above.
12. Use a Fluke to Sight Fish for Bass on Beds
An unweighted fluke fished on a bass bed is a great bait that attracts plenty of attention. Letting the fluke flutter down to the bed in the right conditions can be one of the best ways to grab the attention of a protective male or nearby female when you are sight fishing.
If the water is mildly disturbed by waves or wind, include a small weight to keep the fluke in the strike zone longer.
Once again, whites and bluegill colors prevail.
Do Bass Bite When They Are Spawning?
Bass bite when they are spawning. Bass will bite while spawning for two key reasons. First, they will attack anything that they perceive to be a threat to the eggs on the bed. Second, they will bite out of sheer agitation.
Is it Bad to Catch Spawning Bass? Our Responsibility
While there are many varying opinions on bass fishing during the spawn, please bear in mind that we owe a responsibility to our fisheries to respect the cycles of life and natural order. While it is not always possible, when possible, please catch and release spawning fish where caught. They’ll often return to their bed and continue to spawn through completion.
The Bass Line. Final Word
Sight fishing for bass can be an amazing way to land lunker fish. By choosing the right bait for the right situation, you’ll be on track to catching bass on beds. Review the list of the top baits to use to sight fish for spawning bass above, pick a few that make sense to you, and get on ‘em!
Tight lines and fish on!