Fishing Bedding Bass – Ethical or Not?

Map from North American Fishing Club (NAFC) article

Map from North American Fishing Club (NAFC) article

Pro-staff Contributor: Rich Lindgren

Here we sit, the first full week in April and the spawning band rapidly shifts north day by day. Which brings up the question: is it ethical to target bedding bass?

Many Northern states have regulations and closed seasons to prevent anglers from fishing for bass during the spawn. Yet, most anglers at one time or another are presented with the opportunity to be on the water when some population of bass is spawning. Many anglers feel it’s unethical or “less sporting” to visually fish for bedding bass, and others find it to be their favorite type of fishing. Is either group right or wrong?

In truth, many anglers who disapprove of bed fishing, probably catch bedding bass while blindly fishing in the spring more often than they know. Also, sometimes sight fishing bass can be tougher than you think. From most of the reading I have done, temporarily removing the occasional bass from a bed and then releasing it will not have any long-term effects on the fishery.  Even if, as a result of your catching a bedding bass, a predator raids the nest or a fish’s normal spawn is interrupted, all bodies of water have a certain carrying capacity for bass, so if one nest is lost, it just increases the odds of others surviving.

That being said, I rarely fish for bedding bass outside of tournaments, except for when I’m offered the rare shot at a trophy class fish. In those rare instances, I take a quick picture and put the bass immediately back into the water. It is important not to harvest large bass during the spawn because their genetics must be passed on in order to create more trophy class fish for years to come.

When I practice visual fishing for bedding bass, I usually fish without hooks just to see what types of lures trigger them best. Also, I try to avoid disturbing bedding areas with a trolling motor or outboard, because stirring up an area with a high density of beds can have a serious impact on a fishery.

So, is fishing bedding bass ethical? I think it can be. You can enjoy the resource and take advantage of this window to potentially catch your biggest fish of the year, but be respectful! Practice, catch, photo and release!

Share what you think in the comments. Is it ethical to fish bedding bass? Have you read information that has helped you decide where you stand on this issue?

Rich Lindgren is a tournament bass angler living in Lakeville, MN chasing bass all over Minnesota and its adjoining states. Bass blogger, podcaster and fishing promoter. You’ll see him fishing the Minnesota bass tournament scene representing and Dobyns Rods among others. You can follow him on Twitter (@HellaBass) and like him on Facebook (


3 Responses to “Fishing Bedding Bass – Ethical or Not?”

  1. Totally agree if you catch and release I see nothing wrong with fishing the beds!!!

    • Sight fishing a bass off a bed can sometimes be a very difficult thing to do. Only a very small percentage of the eggs survive naturally anyway, otherwise bass would be extremely overpopulated. As long as you release the bass quickly and close to the nest you aren’t disrupting anything.

  2. […] also knew that since this was going to be a pre-spawn tournament the Alabama Rig would likely come into play. This rig has been dominant […]

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