Understanding when bass spawn is the secret to productive bass fishing in the spring. Every spring, bass migrate to the shallows and clear off a bed to lay, fertilize and hatch eggs. Once you figure out how bass move through the spawning season, you will know how to locate bass in the spring. Bass spawn in the spring when waters warm up into the 60 degree range. Waters reach these temps at different times of the year in different locations. For instance Florida and Texas bass will spawn much earlier in the year than bass in Minnesota because the water warms earlier. You’ll find bass spawning in the warmest, flattest bays in the body of water you’re fishing. Targeting bass during the spawn can offer some of the best fishing of the year especially during the pre-spawn and post-spawn time frames. Let’s get a little deeper into the spawning season and how to target bass during this exciting time.
The Bass Spawning Season
Bass spawning season is very predictable, because bass do the same thing every year in three basic stages. Bass spawn begins when waters start warming up. The first stage is called the pre-spawn stage, when bass move toward shallow flats from their deeper wintering areas. The next stage is called the spawn, when bass clear a nest on hard bottom and proceed to lay, fertilize and hatch eggs. Post-spawn is the final stage in the cycle after bass leave their nest. Weather and water conditions facilitate the transition in stages and determine the best times to fish for bass.
Temperature, location and moon phase are the most important factors that affect bass spawning season. Prime spawning temperatures for bass are 55-65 degrees. The optimal temperature will be reached first in the southern parts of the country in early February and then work north throughout the spring months. The moon’s effect on spawning is one of the most controversial conditions. Some anglers claim that bass spawn right after the first full moon once the water temperatures rise above 60 degrees. In a perfect world this is true, but that temperature must stay optimal for largemouth to spawn at that time. It is good to keep the moon phase in mind when you’re trying to unlock the pattern, but the temperature and location are more important.
Protecting Spawning Beds
Bass become very territorial during the spawn. Males clean out a bed and protect it from other fish and predators. They will protect the bed until the female lays eggs and they hatch into fry. Males will chase or eat anything that comes in or near the bed when there are eggs in it. To preserve the bass population and respect their reproduction, we highly encourage catch and release during spawn. Furthermore, do your utmost to avoid damaging the spawn beds. Boats are the biggest enemy here, so we highly recommend fishing from shore or dock during spawn. If you are fishing from a boat, please maintain a 25 yard distance from the beds, floating off to the deeper side of your target area. Try to drift in using your trolling motor and avoid using your prop motor.
How to Target Bass Spawn
Bass spawn is a great time of year to capitalize on some excellent fishing. Focus your fishing in or near the warmest pockets and bays on the lake. North facing pockets and bays will warm up first and have the most active bass in or around them. Here are some of our favorite ways to target bass during the three stages of the bass spawn.
The pre-spawn occurs when bass commit to making their move towards nesting areas and prior to making their nests. During this time bass travel along structural landmarks near shore to direct them into coves and inlets. Largemouth are moving fast and feeding heavily to prepare for the spawn. Target secondary points and areas with deep water nearby in early pre-spawn. Position yourself along the saddles and mouths of inlets as the water warms up closer to the magic 60 degree mark. This is a great time to catch bass on moving baits like the crawdad colored rattling liplesss crankbait from our bass fishing kit. The largest bass across the country are caught during this period because they are active and bulking.
When female bass have locked onto their beds, they can be tricky to catch. You have two big things in your favor during this stage: females are there to prepare the bed, and you can usually see them in shallow water. Largemouth typically spawn in 1-15 feet of water, depending on water clarity. Look around in shallow bays for black or white circles depending on the bottom composition. If the water is clear enough to see the beds and fish, try enticing them with a dropshot. The dropshot works well because you can leave your bait in the bed and move it without actually pulling the bait closer. This will aggravate both males and females that are protecting the bed. If you can’t see the beds, try casting topwater baits or slowly fishing a jig through areas where you think bass may be spawning.
Post-spawn begins when bass have finished spawning and leave their beds. During this time the smaller male bass will stay in shallow areas protecting their offspring which are known as fry. Female bass that are not guarding fry will stick around in the shallows to recuperate from the rigors of spawning. Post spawn bass wont go too far if they leave the shallows and they’ll school up on the outer weed lines, contour breaks or nearby brush piles. Post spawn bass are easily tricked by a wacky worm or a Texas rigged finesse worm near the first major change in depth closest to the spawning grounds.