How to lure a bass from its nest
Saturday, Mar. 01, 2014

How to lure a bass from its nest

Both largemouth and spotted bass make nests, known as beds, to rear their young. They make them by clearing away silt and other debris with their tails. Should a predator invade the nest, it is quickly chased away by a parent. Knowing this, anglers toss lures into the bed hoping that one of the parents will pick it up. That’s when the angler sets the hook and fights the fish to the boat.

Some question the legality of fishing for spawning bass, which is not allowed in many northern states. But here in the South, both spawning and growing seasons are not only longer, but allow for more and larger fish. In Florida, bass spawn between one and four times a year, depending on weather conditions. There is also no closed season in North Carolina.

Bedding fish are easy to locate. Look for sandy spots in Lake Norman’s silt-covered back coves. Coves with an abundance of willow trees and button bushes are preferred. Remember, too, that coves with a southern exposure to the sun are a few degrees warmer than those that are shaded.

Savvy anglers wear polarized glasses to penetrate the water-surface glare, while standing on the bow of the boat to maneuver a foot-operated trolling motor. When a bed is found, stop the boat and throw the lure in front of the fish in the nest. While a variety of lures will generate strikes, soft plastics rigged Texas-style or with football jigs, are popular.

Fishing for bedding bass takes a bit of patience, since they are not in a feeding mode. The bass’ only interest is in protecting the eggs and fry from predators. Knowing this, savvy anglers try to trick the parents into thinking the lure is trying to eat their brood. Sooner or later, the male or female will pick up the bait in an attempt to kill it or chase it from the nest.

A quiet electric trolling motor allows the boat to approach the bedding area without upsetting or spooking the fish. Once fish are located, hold the boat in place with an anchor or with one or two power poles (shallow water anchors). Using the trolling motor to maintain a good casting vantage point is a poor choice, since the prop wash stirs up silt and muddies the water.

If you haven’t seen a power pole, it’s a hydraulic device usually mounted on the stern. A fiberglass spike, driven into the bottom, holds the boat in place. The “shallow water anchor” deploys quickly and quietly with no splashing or muddying the water. While expensive, they are being used by bass anglers and others who target fish in less than 10 feet of water.

For those who want to catch pre-spawning bass, try fishing in 8 feet to 15 feet of water. Best bets are points, dock pilings and in the middle of pockets and sloughs. While casting soft plastics and swim baits is the preferred method, trolling crank baits and Alabama rigs is also quite productive.

Tip from Capt. Gus

When unhooking white perch, hold them from underneath. This will reduce the chance of being stabbed by their sharp, pointed fins and gills. Likewise, keep your hands away from the pointed and barbed dorsal and pectoral fins of a catfish.

March events

“How to Navigate Lake Norman Day or Night” is a free safe-boating class to be held at Morningstar Marina at Kings Point, Cornelius, 6:30 p.m. March 12. Topics tinclude “Understanding LKN’s Channel Marker and Buoy System,” “How to Avoid Shallow Water,” “The 10 Most Dangerous Spots” and “Interpreting Lake Maps.” 704-892-7575.

Free fishing seminar: “Introduction to Sonar, Down Scan and GPS” and “How to Use Electronics to Catch Bass, White Perch, Crappie and Catfish on Lake Norman.” Jake Bussolini and I will conduct this 90-minute seminar beginning at 6:30 p.m. March 19 at Gander Mountain, Exit 36, Mooresville. 704-658-0822.

Hot Spots of the Month

Suspended bass are being caught on A-rigs cast or trolled off deep points. Crappie are around deep brush and along the edges of creek channels. White perch are still deep, with some suspended more than 75 feet. As has been the case since November, diving sea birds herald the presence of feeding fish below the surface.

Lake levels

Lake Norman’s water level is about 2.8 feet below full pond and 2.3 feet below full on Mountain Island Lake. The surface water temperature is in the 40s and 50s in water not affected by the power generation on Lake Norman.

Gus Gustafson is freelance writer and a professional fishing guide. Have a story idea for Gus? Email him at

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