Bank Fishing Basics: Shoreline spawning tactics

It’s spawning season. The bass are, have recently been or will soon be spawning across the majority of the country. And for the angler confined to the shore by choice or circumstance, this is one of the best seasons to fish for bass. The fish are literally coming to you.

Bass hit the banks in high numbers throughout the spring to go through their annual spawning process, fanning beds and laying eggs in relatively shallow water depending on the species.

Here are a few things to look for and some tips on what to and what not to do to make the most of your bank fishing during the spawn.

What not to do

For starters, you don’t want to go barreling down the bank making lots of noise and dropping baits like bombs. Fishing from the bank this time of year requires a little finesse, as the fish (especially largemouth) will be super shallow and wary of threats from above.

And finesse here doesn’t refer as much to the bait selection as it does the presentation. Both wacky rigs and frogs can be very effective from the bank during the spawn, but the goal is to make accurate and stealthy casts with whatever bait you’re using.

And subtle, soft twitches with a walking frog will be far more effective than hard chugs with a popping frog for example. Whatever you do from the bank when fishing during the spawn, think stealth and finesse. Walk lightly and move slowly. The bass are on high alert and shallow, so you could easily spook them and they won’t need a lot of action to find your bait.

What to do

Knowing the bass are on high alert, wary of the threat of birds and other animals from above, it’s a good idea to blend in with your surroundings as much as possible. These fish will often spawn so shallow that their backs may well touch the surface of the water. And this shallow, even in stained water, they can definitely see you. In addition to not making a lot of sudden movements, it’s a good idea to wear camouflage.

Now I’m not talking sitting in a deer stand wearing pictures of oak bark and leaves camouflage. You want to blend into your background when fishing from the bank is all. And so, quite often, that will actually require a light blue shirt that a fish won’t be able to see clearly against the sky. This isn’t talked about a lot in bass fishing, but it’s why a large number of the shirts made for saltwater fishing are light blue, white and grey.

AFTCO and others offer a lot of long sleeve shirts like this that are designed to help the angler blend into the blank background seen from a fish’s perspective. These work really well when fishing around many ponds and other stretches of shoreline where trees aren’t present.

A few more tips

There are a few visual indicators of bedding activity that you can look for when fishing for bedding bass from the bank. Bass prefer to spawn on hard bottoms. Once the bass find a suitable area to spawn, they’ll fan a bed with their tails, removing any loose debris from the bed to reveal a nice clean hard bottom.

Often times throughout much of the bass fishing world, a sandy bottom will be revealed when the bed is made. So you’ll be able to see a glaringly obvious white spot amongst the otherwise dark bottom. Other times there will be cleaner spots, on rocky bottoms for instance, that aren’t as easy to see from far off, but still become apparent the more you look for them.

Bass also like to spawn alongside cover, isolated cover in particular. So look for reed clumps, stumps, dock posts and other objects in the water and cast to them carefully, assuming there is a bass spawning nearby.

Fish your baits slowly through these areas, making repetitive casts, before even trying to see if a fish is actually on a bed. If you can see a bass on bed, it can most likely see you. And they’re usually a little easier to catch before they get a glimpse of you. Stealth is one of the biggest keys to being successful when fishing the spawn from shore. Wear clothes that blend in with the background, moving quietly and slowly, making subtle casts and visualize fish on the bed as best you can without actually having to see them first to fish for them. If you can implement these simple tips, you should find better success from the bank in no time.