AA, I understand how you feel about targetting "guards" on beds. However, I saw nothing in the fishing report that actually encouraged people to target fish on beds. It's a personal ethical decision, not a question of fisheries management. I duck hunt, and I don't like guys that shoot at ducks when they're out of range because they lose cripples or just foul up the hunting. They aren't breaking the law, so what can I do? Talk to them about it- I tell them that if they let them work, they WILL kill more ducks, and lose fewer cripples. To some, this is important, but for most, well, they just want to shoot at something, and if they bring anything home, it's icing on the cake.
The fact is, spawning brings a lot of fish up shallow before, during, and after the spawn. Especially in E TN's deep, clear lakes, spring can provide a limited window when the biggest smallmouths are within the effective depth of a flyrod as they move up to spawn, and immediately after. In the heat of the summer, many of these fish spend their time in open water over deep structure where a fly rod will not go. Have I caught them off beds in the past? Probably, but river smallmouth often do not have a well-defined bed, just an area they patrol and defend. Once you learn the behaviors of a "guard" smallmouth, you can easily pass them by. Plus, the males guard nests, and are usually smaller than the females, so for me beds aren't as attractive as finding a holding area for big post-spawn females.