The Ultimate Guide to the Largemouth Bass Spawn
Did you know that the largemouth bass is the number one game fish in the United States? All across the nation, you can find access to freshwater lake, river, and pond systems that produce some exceptional fishing. This green fish has people searching for their next trophy catch daily.
During the largemouth bass spawn, you can have an absolute blast catching some of the biggest bass of your life.
What is the largemouth bass spawn?
Understanding their movement and behavior will be critical in your success. Each state and fishery will have its own factors that contribute to the strength of the spawn. Bass are constantly on the move. Places that they migrate and travel too depend on their desires.
During the spawn, black bass are in search of food, optimal water depth and temperature, and structure. All of these factors are integral to the success of their spawning process. In this guide, we will help break down some of these key factors that help promote a strong spawning phase for bass.
You will also get some insight and tips on how to catch largemouth bass during spawning. Each phase will provide a different tactic and execution.
General Bass Spawn Details:
You want to find structure with hard-bottoms but also places that do not have current. Canals tend to hold excellent water for the largemouth bass to begin spawning. Not only do the backends of the canals have shallow water depths, most have protected vegetation as well. Key structures like reeds, trees, and docks can promote a calling sign for a pre-spawn fish.
Muddy and soft-bottom areas can also hold waters for the bass to spawn. Water clarity may be very important when it comes to the spawn. Some bass will decide to spawn in muddy and soft-bottom locations though. Root, reeds, or pad wads and bottoms are also key areas of spawning activity.
The black bass like to spawn when temperatures reach the perfect conditions. Each region of the United States, these temperatures will vary. In the northern most region, the largemouth bass spawn during the months of May and June. The middle region spawning activity begins and takes place through April and May. In the southernmost region, the peak time for the bass spawn is during the months of February through March.
Destinations like Florida though have spawning times that range from November through April depending on conditions and stability. You can experience some of the best bass fishing the country has to offer during these times. Not only do you have the chance to catch a trophy but also you get the chance to catch fish sight-fishing shallow water.
Each spawning cycle is indicative of not only temperature but moon phase. The moon is what calls the fish to the shallow water to get their process started!
Below you will find a complete guide to each stage of the spawning process:
Pre-spawn officially begins when the water temperatures reach anywhere from 45-60 degrees. In the northern region, this will be right after the winter months. In the southern region, the winter months are when the water cools and the spawn begins.
Once this trigger goes off, the largemouth will begin to move shallow. The bass will move from deeper summertime waters into the shallow waters near the coast. Lake Okeechobee is a prime example of this. All summer long, bass are moving around on the main lake chasing bait. Once the water begins to cool, largemouths move into the shallows in waves.
Shallow water provides the perfect area for the largemouth bass to spawn. Shelter and protection from vegetation, reeds, trees, and docks make for the perfect areas for bass to spawn. The warm shallow water that the female bass like to lay their eggs is also rich with oxygen and light.
Catching Pre-Spawn Bass:
Once you have locked in on either beds or predicted spawning areas, you want to make some noise to start. Most professional and experienced anglers will pick up either a bright colored buzzbait or swim jig around heavy cover. Key grass structures to catch bass in these conditions are peppergrass, eelgrass, and hydrilla.
If the bass does not strike a top water bait, you may have to slow it down. Pick up a 7-10 inch ribbontail worm or a 4-6 inch Texas rigged lizard or creature bait to search areas. You can also Texas rig a stick bait as well. A light weight in the 1/16-⅛ ounce range will get the job done for you. You want to allow that bait to get through the structure gently.
Most of the time, you are destined to come across male largemouth bass scouting out prime areas to prep a bed. The female largemouth bass are scouting out the same areas. Stay persistent and patient and you can capitalize on some giant largemouth bass during this time!
Once you find areas of hard-bottoms, then you have to search for protected cover. Most beds will be created around trees, under heavy submerged vegetation, and docks. This allows the largemouth to protect themselves and their eggs. During this time, the bass become at the highest risk of danger, so they do their best to protect themselves as much as possible.
The males do a majority of the work during the spawning process. Female bass hold the most valuable part of the process, the eggs. Males will create the nest and guard the nest once the female bass lays her eggs. Both the males and females do their best to maintain the bed. With the use of their tails, they clean their beds of any silt or sediment that may have accumulated.
Once everything is inline, the females will release their eggs on the bed. Females roughly lay anywhere from 1500-7000 eggs per cycle. Most females do not lay all their eggs at once. As this is occurring, the males will release sperm onto the eggs. The fertilization and protection process then begins.
Females will then leave the bed to gain back all that she lost. This is then the prime opportunity to catch a post-spawn female. They do not lose all their weight making your chances of catching a trophy largemouth bass still possible. Females will gorge themselves on golden shiners, bluegills, shad, and bream.
Catching Largemouth Bass on Beds:
When the bass pair up and lock on a bed is the best chance at landing that female. Generally you are going to catch the male bass first as it guards the nest. Once you catch the male, your opportunity will increase to land that female.
The best bait to use when looking to catch bedding bass are creature baits. Texas rig a craw, lizard, or stick bait with a ¼-ounce weight and be patient. Pitch into the bedding area as often as possible to land that fish. There is a sweet spot on almost every bed that will grant you a strike but you have to find it. Generally it sits right in the middle of the nest.
Let you bait soak with light movements around the bed. This will help increase strikes and make your bait look like it is feeding on the recently laid eggs.
Once the female largemouth bass is done spawning, she does not typically go far. Most of the time, she does not release all her eggs at once and could be holding onto more eggs for another spawn soon. Once she finishes spawning though, she will be in search of food in the shallow waters where she spawned.
The males will have to stick around to watch their eggs from predators. Other bass, minnows, bluegill, bream, crayfish, and more are opportunistic feeders that the male bass have to ward off. Most males are still around their nest to guard the fry until they reach about 1-inch in length. One of the reasons fish lay thousands of eggs is that the survival rate is low.
As anglers, we have to be conscious about our decisions. The low survival rate is partly due to anglers removing nesting largemouth bass. Groups of panfish, great lake gobies, and other predators can easily decimate a newly hatched population.
Catching Post-Spawn Largemouth Bass:
Throw your buzz bait, swim bait, or swim jig around these structures and hold on. Choosing to fish post-spawn patterns is a conservation-friendly way to fish. You increase your odds of catching a trophy largemouth bass. If the bass don’t want your large moving bait, dial it back once again.
Light-tackle and line can help promote better presentation of your bait. The largemouth may be hungry but it will also be in a fragile state. Dial back on presentation and tackle when the bite gets tough. If the fish are not biting near the shallow structure, large females may have moved to deeper water columns. Find the route pattern to the spawning flats and areas from deeper water, and you could find bass not only post-spawn but pre-spawn as well.
The longer that you remove a female or male bass from the bed, the more likely their spawning grounds will be compromised. This all depends on which phase they are in. The most vulnerable time is when the fish are guarding their young. If you take the pair of bass off their bed, you will open it up for predators.
Predators including bream, bass, crappie, bluegill, and more are always waiting for a quick meal. These species can wipe out a bed of recently laid eggs rather quickly. This is why it is important to keep a catch-and-release mentality in mind. Capture the moment and let that fish protect her eggs again.
Conservation is very important to the longevity of bass fishing. We have to stay conscious of our actions in order to have a fishery to explore in the future. We hope that you keep these in mind when targeting bass during the spawning season.