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Brian S
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Best bed fishing bait for smallmouth  

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What do y'all think the best bed fishing bait for smallmouth is. This is my first time bed fishing for smallies. I plan on using a 6'10" medium light spinning rod with a Daiwa BG  2500 spinning reel. ( I fish Northern Wisconsin). 

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  • Global Moderator

A ned rig works really well but I usually leave them alone when I find one on a bed. It's pretty rare the water is clear enough that I can see them on beds here though. 

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Bed fishing for bass especially smallmouth in clear water is like deer hunting over a pile of corn not that difficult and probably a little unsportsmanlike imho! 
 

To each their own. I watch scads of so called bass fisherman show up for the spawn on a lake up here and tick pound the poor bass turds into oblivion and think it’s something special. They couldn’t catch a fish if it weren’t for the big garbage can cover size beds smallies make.

 

Done with the rant

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  • Super User

Fish a week before they go on the beds if you want to catch them. Smallmouth on beds are not actively feeding. I leave them alone and don’t waste my time. 

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Dropshot will load the boat with them.  I have caught them with Ned rigs but I like the control of the dropshot better.  I love when they spawn and all the anglers go fish beds.  I stick to the prespawners and catch bigger fish.  

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  • Solution

A better suggestion, perhaps, is to target the fish that aren't on beds yet.  Smallmouth start getting busy once that water gets above 60 degrees.  Fishing for bass on beds is bad news for the survivability of eggs and stress on the fish.  (We've all done some version of bed fishing, so it's not necessary to shame someone, but it is a good opportunity to educate and let people make decisions to do what's better for the fish.) 

 

HOWEVER... not all bass spawn at once, but they'll all typically spawn in the same areas/type of water and will hang out pretty close to those spawning areas waiting for vacant beds, water temps, biology, etc.  So, a better place to fish would be the closest water that provides a good feeding opportunity for the fish that aren't on beds yet.  In lakes, look for changes in structure (ledges are prime), in rivers look for water that will provide the best feeding opportunities while still providing protection from predators like birds (depth, cover, riffles/seems, etc).  

 

A few other thoughts that might be helpful... crayfish are just sort of waking up and starting to move once those water temps get into the mid/high 50s and smallmouth might not be on them yet.  Baitfish are typically your major pre-spawn forage and you can go big (I had a large female follow an 8" streamer this past weekend).  Another thought on location and forage - smallmouth may be willing to eat some pretty big baits, but water temps are typically going to be in the 50s and 60s.  This means they'll eat big, but might not be willing to consistently chase fast moving baits (exception if you've got a warm day that will drive up water temps), or hang out in water that requires they expend lots of energy (high in the water column in fast moving water).

 

Hope this helps and gives you a starting point for an alternative to bouncing a drop shot on a bed.

 

 

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48 minutes ago, Turkey sandwich said:

A better suggestion, perhaps, is to target the fish that aren't on beds yet.  Smallmouth start getting busy once that water gets above 60 degrees.  Fishing for bass on beds is bad news for the survivability of eggs and stress on the fish.  (We've all done some version of bed fishing, so it's not necessary to shame someone, but it is a good opportunity to educate and let people make decisions to do what's better for the fish.) 

 

HOWEVER... not all bass spawn at once, but they'll all typically spawn in the same areas/type of water and will hang out pretty close to those spawning areas waiting for vacant beds, water temps, biology, etc.  So, a better place to fish would be the closest water that provides a good feeding opportunity for the fish that aren't on beds yet.  In lakes, look for changes in structure (ledges are prime), in rivers look for water that will provide the best feeding opportunities while still providing protection from predators like birds (depth, cover, riffles/seems, etc).  

 

A few other thoughts that might be helpful... crayfish are just sort of waking up and starting to move once those water temps get into the mid/high 50s and smallmouth might not be on them yet.  Baitfish are typically your major pre-spawn forage and you can go big (I had a large female follow an 8" streamer this past weekend).  Another thought on location and forage - smallmouth may be willing to eat some pretty big baits, but water temps are typically going to be in the 50s and 60s.  This means they'll eat big, but might not be willing to consistently chase fast moving baits (exception if you've got a warm day that will drive up water temps), or hang out in water that requires they expend lots of energy (high in the water column in fast moving water).

 

Hope this helps and gives you a starting point for an alternative to bouncing a drop shot on a bed.

 

 

Dude! Thought we had lost you 

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Just now, TnRiver46 said:

Dude! Thought we had lost you 

LOL, I still lurk every now and again.  I've had a lot of not fishing stuff going on and have been spending more time chasing trout with the buggy whip than bass and have spent a lot more time following hatches than pre-spawn smallmouth.  I'm trying to get out a ton for both browns and smallmouth this spring since some of the best rivers in the east are going to be covered in cicadas.  

 

How've you been, dude?

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23 minutes ago, Turkey sandwich said:

LOL, I still lurk every now and again.  I've had a lot of not fishing stuff going on and have been spending more time chasing trout with the buggy whip than bass and have spent a lot more time following hatches than pre-spawn smallmouth.  I'm trying to get out a ton for both browns and smallmouth this spring since some of the best rivers in the east are going to be covered in cicadas.  

 

How've you been, dude?

Most excellent, good to have you back. 

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22 hours ago, TnRiver46 said:

Most excellent, good to have you back. 

Thanks man!  Hopefully I'll be able to get some pictures posted of cicada eaters soon. 

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1 hour ago, Turkey sandwich said:

Thanks man!  Hopefully I'll be able to get some pictures posted of cicada eaters soon. 

We have seen zero of the cicadas so far, I’m guessing it’s a summer time thing. But then again they said they should emerge when the ground is like 63 degrees or something 

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The smallmouth spawn is your chance for the biggest bass in the lake. The big dark bruisers that spend all their time in the depths, or suspended in the main lake; they must go shallow to spawn.  

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On 4/30/2021 at 1:50 PM, Turkey sandwich said:

A better suggestion, perhaps, is to target the fish that aren't on beds yet.  Smallmouth start getting busy once that water gets above 60 degrees.  Fishing for bass on beds is bad news for the survivability of eggs and stress on the fish.  (We've all done some version of bed fishing, so it's not necessary to shame someone, but it is a good opportunity to educate and let people make decisions to do what's better for the fish.) 

 

HOWEVER... not all bass spawn at once, but they'll all typically spawn in the same areas/type of water and will hang out pretty close to those spawning areas waiting for vacant beds, water temps, biology, etc.  So, a better place to fish would be the closest water that provides a good feeding opportunity for the fish that aren't on beds yet.  In lakes, look for changes in structure (ledges are prime), in rivers look for water that will provide the best feeding opportunities while still providing protection from predators like birds (depth, cover, riffles/seems, etc).  

 

A few other thoughts that might be helpful... crayfish are just sort of waking up and starting to move once those water temps get into the mid/high 50s and smallmouth might not be on them yet.  Baitfish are typically your major pre-spawn forage and you can go big (I had a large female follow an 8" streamer this past weekend).  Another thought on location and forage - smallmouth may be willing to eat some pretty big baits, but water temps are typically going to be in the 50s and 60s.  This means they'll eat big, but might not be willing to consistently chase fast moving baits (exception if you've got a warm day that will drive up water temps), or hang out in water that requires they expend lots of energy (high in the water column in fast moving water).

 

Hope this helps and gives you a starting point for an alternative to bouncing a drop shot on a bed.

 

 

Thank you for letting me know this information. Like I said, this is my first time fishing for spring smallmouth. After reading up on it, I have decided to follow your guide, I don't want to risk the fish and the future population of the lake.  I will fish near drop offs and stay away from the shallow gravel/sand flats. Thank you for being kind and not scolding me for my lack of knowledge on the subject.

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On 5/2/2021 at 6:44 PM, Brian S said:

Thank you for letting me know this information. Like I said, this is my first time fishing for spring smallmouth. After reading up on it, I have decided to follow your guide, I don't want to risk the fish and the future population of the lake.  I will fish near drop offs and stay away from the shallow gravel/sand flats. Thank you for being kind and not scolding me for my lack of knowledge on the subject.

The fisheries definitely do better because of it.  Plus, you can still catch big smallmouth transitioning.  They don't all spawn at once.  We were seeing fish beginning to build beds on the tribs and were catching fish in pockets around fast water.  This will go on, likely, for the next month or so before they finish up.  And by then, early spawners will already be moving into their summer patterns.  Tight lines! 

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On 5/2/2021 at 5:44 PM, Brian S said:

Thank you for letting me know this information. Like I said, this is my first time fishing for spring smallmouth. After reading up on it, I have decided to follow your guide, I don't want to risk the fish and the future population of the lake.  I will fish near drop offs and stay away from the shallow gravel/sand flats. Thank you for being kind and not scolding me for my lack of knowledge on the subject.

Well I guess I should’ve addressed it differently if you felt scolded and my apologies. 
 

I still feel the same way about bed fishing but like previously said areas around spawning areas have plenty of fish that tip the scales. 
 

Good luck and time on the water means everything.. Reading helps get some basics but fishing is the best teacher

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