If you want to catch big bass during the post-spawn season, one of the best ways to do this is by fishing the edges of spawning bluegill beds.
The bluegill spawn is a great opportunity for catching giant bass, since bedding bluegill attract big post-spawn bass that feed on them to regain their strength.
Many bass pro anglers, including Roland Martin and John Crews, achieve high tournament finishes at this time of the year by targeting bass that feed on bedding bluegill.
In this article we’ll show you why you should take advantage of the bluegill spawn to catch monster bass, and we’ll also discuss the best tactics and lures for catching them there.
Why should you fish the bluegill spawn for bass?
Bluegill start spawning soon after largemouth bass are done with their spawn, which provides a great opportunity for hungry post-spawn bass to feed aggressively.
Bluegill not only provide a nice sized meal for bass, but are also relatively easy to catch during this season, since they are concentrated into a small area and very focused on their spawn.
At this time it’s common to see “wolf packs” of largemouth bass with up to 10 fish patrolling the edges of a bluegill bed, where they try to pick off any fish that stray too far from their beds.
Also, since bluegill are relatively bulky and have spines on their back, only big bass have a mouth that’s large enough to eat them. So the average size of bass feeding on spawning bluegill is between 3 and 10 pounds, and this provides a great opportunity for catching big bass.
The best tactics for catching bass around bluegill beds
Since bluegill beds are found mostly in shallow water between 1 and 3 feet deep, a great tactic to start with is by throwing topwater lures to adjacent cover.
If the bass are finicky, and don’t respond to your topwater lures, try to switch to finesse tactics and using a lightweight spinning rod for bass. Go for soft plastic worms or creature baits rigged on a Texas rig or on a Drop Shot rig, and make long casts to avoid spooking the fish.
In most cases, you won’t find the bass directly inside the bluegill spawning area, but patrolling around the periphery, or positioned close to nearby cover, such as grass beds, laydowns, or brush piles.
If the water is clear enough, you can use sight fishing, by casting directly to individual bass with your lure, or by casting over them, and then retrieving the lure past their location, which often results in a bite.
Finally, also try to fish slightly deeper water that’s adjacent to the bedding area of the bluegills, as sometimes the bass will suspend there when they’re not patrolling around the edges of the spawning area.
Stealth is key for catching bass close to bluegill beds
Many anglers don’t catch a lot of bass around bluegill beds because they are too impatient, and start fishing right after they drive their boat up to a bluegill bed.
But you need to keep in mind that most bass will be spooked by your approach, and will dart away. However, they usually come back within 15 to 30 minutes, and you need to wait that long if you want to have a chance of catching them.
Another great option is to find the bluegill beds in advance, and the next day approach them quietly and anchor at a distance, in order to avoid spooking the fish. This is the method used by bass tournament pros that systematically fish bluegill bedding areas after scouting them the day before.
Bass lures for fishing the bluegill spawn
As mentioned above, a great option to start with are topwater lures, including hollow-bodied frogs, poppers, and prop baits. You can either try to match the hatch with bluegill imitation colors, or you can try to trigger reaction bites by throwing completely different colors.
When the bass are feeding aggressively, you can also opt for chatterbaits, spinnerbaits, or swim jigs. Again, a great option is to start with natural bluegill colors, and then switch to brighter patterns, such as chartreuse or red.
In general, if you don’t get a bite on a specific lure within 5 to 10 minutes, it’s best to switch it out for another one, until you find the winning pattern.
If the bass are not feeding actively, or hook shy due to being pressured, switch to finesse tactics using soft plastic lures to trigger finicky bass to bite.
When should you fish bluegill beds for bass?
The best time to fish bluegill beds is when the bluegill spawn starts. The bluegill start spawning when the water temperature reaches about 70 degrees, but the exact timing can vary greatly from location to location, and ranges from April to June.
Also, keep in mind that bluegill continue spawning over the whole summer (all the way up to August in some lakes), and bass will continue to target them as long as they do.
If you fish regularly on the same lake, it’s a great idea to keep a fishing log, in order to track both the locations and the timing of the bluegill spawn in your lake. That way, you’ll be ready for the next season, and can target the best bluegill beds as soon as the right time comes.
How to find bedding bluegill
Bluegill beds are often found in the heads of creeks and rivers on reservoirs, or in shallow bays, flats, or pockets in natural lakes. In general, you can find them in similar areas that bass like to spawn in .
An easy method to find them is to cruise around close to shore with your trolling motor, and look for a group of small craters close together on the bottom. At the same time, also look for signs of the bluegill themselves, as well as any nearby bass.
The best way to do this is with a pair of polarized sunglasses, which makes it much easier to spot fish and bottom features underneath the water surface.
Another method to find bluegill beds that also works in stained water is with a Humminbird 360 fish finder, which is ideal for shallow water, and scans the bottom in all directions, revealing all nearby bluegill beds in an instant.
Alternatively, you can also use a live sonar, such as Garmin LiveScope in perspective mode, which is great for scanning a large area of shallow water to reveal the telltale craters of bedding bluegill.
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