As he pulled his boat down the bank into the wind with the trolling motor, Pete Ponds was suddenly hit in the face by a familiar and exciting aroma.
“Smell that? Gotta be a bream bed,” he said, reeling quickly to get his lure back in the boat. He was already thinking about what he wanted in his hand, and it wasn’t a pole and cricket.
“I figured this might happen, so I already have a rod with Devil’s Horse tied on,” he said.
What did you expect from a B.A.S.S. Elite Series pro.
Using the wind, he pinpointed the location of the bed, launched a cast as far as he could throw it and then waited for the splash circles to disperse. Then he put the Devil’s Horse to work, giving it a couple of quick jerks to start the action. There was a definitive splash that came from the props on the front and rear of the plug.
“The propellers are what makes me like the Horse,” Ponds said about the lure. “I don’t know exactly why, but it has always been deadly for fishing around bream beds. This is a big fish pattern. You won’t be getting a lot of bites, but what ones you get will be quality bites.”
Ponds worked the lure with a few more twitches, pausing to ...
The explosion from the water was massive.
“Oh it’s a big one,” Ponds said. “Half her body came out of the water and crashed on that lure. Got to be at least a 6, maybe bigger.”
We never found out. The fish broke the line with another big jump, and disappeared below the surface, lure still attached.
“Should have retied,” the fisherman said. “Dang it, I just picked it up this morning in the garage and tossed it in the boat. The knot was a year old, at least.”
Unfortunately, Ponds didn’t have another Devil’s Horse in the boat, nor any other prop-type topwater plug. He settled for a floating paddle-tailed swim bait that he could keep near the surface.
“You want to fish on top, but I don’t want to use a walking-type bait like a Spook,” he said. “The props on a Horse give you a good splash without a lot of movement. A chugging bait, like a Pop-R will work, but I like a bigger bait. The thing to remember is that when you target bream beds for bass, it will be big bass you are targeting and the bigger baits catch bigger fish.
“Bass are attracted to bream beds because they are a hive of activity, and obviously they know they can pick off a nice meal. When we’re talking about bream that are in there bedding, then we’re talking about a pretty good-sized forage fish so any bass there actively feeding is capable of snaring a really big bait. The bream will run off smaller bass, too.”
Ponds let the water settle from the previous skirmish, fishing a nearby boat dock before returning to the bream bed. This time, he tossed the Floating Bull Shad swimbait and brought it back over what he assumed was the outer, deeper edge of the bed, where a big bass might be staging for a quick run in to grab a meal.
The plan worked. Ponds set the hook on another good fish, and this time put it in the boat.
“Love me some bream bed action,” he said, releasing the fish after posing for a photo. “Can’t blame them for eating bream. I love them, too. I’ll come back over here this week with my grandson and we’ll catch a mess.
“A lot of people think this is something you can only do around the full moon in April or May, but it’s not. Bream cycle on and off the beds, up into the summer, usually relating to the full and new moon phases. I promise you, the bass know that. The bass fishing is better in the early months because the bass are already shallow coming off their spawn. Later in the heat, I try to find beds extremely close to a deep drop. Those are good on into June and even July.”
This year in particular has promise.
“It was a late spring and we’ve had cooler temperatures,” Ponds said. “I bet we see some good bedding on up in July and maybe even August. I sure hope so.”