Largemouth bass is the most popular species in North America, its native root. It is a part of the sunfish family, a fact not at all obvious when you compare the two as a fisherman. Bass fishermen have made bass fishing into a science it seems, and as a result, have created and advanced much of the fishing technology that we use today. Anywhere from advanced baitcasters to soft plastic molding—you name it.
Freshwater is found in every state in the US, and largemouth can be found in just about every healthy body of water. And better yet, they can be caught at any time of the year. Those who favor bass fishing will always find a way to get on the water and try to make something happen. However, while experienced fishermen have their preferences on when, where, and how to fish for bass, there are always those times that offer better opportunities than others. This is especially true for beginners who are just getting into bass fishing looking for their first success.
Best Time Of Year To Fish For Bass: The Spring
Experienced bass fishermen look forward to fishing around the spawn each spring. If you’re just starting out—you should too. Once the water temperature starts rising into the upper 50s, bass start to move shallower from their deep winter holdings. When this happens, they are hungry. Their metabolism speeds up and they eat to regain their weight and prepare to spawn. It’s a busy time for bass, both largemouth and smallmouth, and presents some of the best opportunities to present your bait and have them readily eat it.
I was trout fishing in a lake one early spring, and I ended up in an area with a few bass beds. After my first cast, I noticed a bed about 4ft from shore, almost under my feet it seemed. That evening I was using dough bait on a size 14 double hook. I reeled in to check my bait and as it crossed the bed a bass came out of nowhere and chased it. He abruptly stopped chasing once my bait past the bed. My hook was bare, but I put it back out immediately and dangled it around his bed. He started getting antsy and very aggravated, as if he really wanted to leave but stay at the same time. About 10 seconds later, he inched a little closer to the dangling, annoying, bare double hook that just wouldn’t go away. He had enough. He barely opened his mouth and then—poof! The hook went in and disappeared. I lifted the rod and set the hook. The bass was 14-inches.
This is just an example of how aggressive and protective bass can be during the spawn. It’s a great reason to go fishing for them at this time. Once the water temperature in the shallows hits the 60-degree mark, expect bass to start making their beds. (If you’re unsure when this is, pay attention to early signs of spring such as blooms from dogwoods and cherry blossoms.)
Where To Search
Search for areas that warm up the fastest. These include areas that receive direct sunlight, dark and stained areas that can absorb more heat, areas protected from the wind like coves, and structure with south facing banks on the north side of the body of water. Pay attention to the bottom. Within these areas seek out the spots with hard bottoms, preferably around cover that offer spawn beds protection from wind and predators. If you’re unfamiliar with the bass spawn, then it’s always worth learning about more in-depth.
Best Time Of Day To Fish For Bass
A simple bass fishing kit is all that’s needed to be prepared at all times for all scenarios. In this case, a nice bass in the evening under heavy cover.
In the spring, water temperature is more finicky and unpredictable. A cold front can quickly move bass off their beds and hold back those bass who have yet to come shallow to build beds. Focus on fishing during the warmest part of the day in the afternoon. As the spring weather gradually gets warmer and stabilizes, expect the water temp to continue to rise and stabilize. Once it consistently reaches the mid-60s, expect bass to finish their spawning. Bass, like their crappie cousins, are low-light feeders. Early mornings, late evenings, and nights are going to become the classic times to fish. As spring turns into summer, these become the best times to fish because of the cooler water and the cover it provides for bass to move unseen.
Bass Fishing Tip
Once the bass spawn tapers out, the sunfish and bluegill usually move in to spawn. This further continues the great bass fishing. In stable weather, bass will hold to classic cover in weeds, sunken debris, trees, rocks, docks, etc. that are near these bluegill spawning sites. Shoreline holes and points situated around the bass spawning sites are also great areas to find bass waiting to ambush bluegill.
Depending on water clarity and depth, you want to approach spawning areas as stealthily as possible. When bass are on their beds, low-light helps to conceal you. For this reason, fishing during warm weather in the late evenings can be the ticket to success. The less noticed you are, the better. Fishing near dusk, in cloudy weather, and in turbulent water from wind will all help conceal you. Wearing clothing to help blend in with surroundings also really helps.
With everything said—please do not disturb the beds during the spawn. And to preserve the bass population and respect their reproduction, we highly encourage catch and release during spawn.