Largemouth bass move in predictable ways during the spring spawn. Consequently, finding large bass during mating season can be as certain as possible.
Many anglers have trouble understanding the spawn or how to profit from a fishing opportunity that does not rely on high feeding drives.
Information is the key to solving both of these problems. The more information you have about bass behavior during the spawn, the better it will be for you.
What time does Largemouth Bass spawn?
Largemouth spawning behavior is completely temperature-dependent. It will begin when the water temperature reaches 55-60 degrees. The water will reach this point and the males will move from deeper to shallower water. They’ll then prepare their beds for females who arrive later.
You can be sure that once the water reaches 60 degrees, the females will join their male counterparts and the actual spawning will begin.
This sounds so simple, right?
It’s more complex.
The water will not warm up consistently in larger lakes. In fact, the water will warm up in shallower, more calm areas first, particularly if they are exposed to direct sunlight. The most affected areas of lakes are often the northernmost. This is because the sun’s increasingly southern rays can reach them throughout the day without trees blocking.
This is an important point to keep in mind: Expect differential heating, where the spawn is scattered across large lakes.
Are Largemouth Bass Spawns Found?
You will find largemouth males making their homes in the shallows, sometimes in as little as a foot of water. This will almost always be between 10 and 12 feet deep. Depending on the contour of the lake, it may even be close to shore. These beds are usually found in shallow water, typically one to five feet deep.
A topographical map is a great tool to predict spawning sites. If you don’t have maps of the areas you fish in, it’s a good idea!
For their nests, bass prefers gravel, sand, and mud bottoms. The addition of any form of cover is a great idea. These nests will have easy access to deep waters.
The males tend to be quite independent and won’t nest near their rivals. If you see clusters of nests, it could be because the cover is thicker or the water is murkier.
What happens during the Spawn?
Of course, mating!
Here’s how it works.
Bass enters anorexia during the spawn. This is a state of reduced hunger. They are more focused on reproduction than predation and won’t eat until the spawn is over and the next generation of bass can swim on their own.
We have already noted that the males will arrive first and they’ll begin hollowing out the bottom. They will wait until their mate arrives before they circle the nest, turning their stomachs toward each other, and then releasing eggs or sperm into the water.
Although this mating ritual can be repeated up to four times in one season, two is the most frequent. This is how thousands, if not tens of millions, of fertilized eggs, are deposited.
The temperature of the water directly influences the hatching time. Insufficiently warm water, the bass fry can hatch in as little as two days.
The male will continue to protect them from predators such as panfish. It can take up to two weeks for the fry ready to leave the nest.
The spawning season is over and the largemouth switches to summer feeding.
Are You a Bass? Let’s have a look at what they eat.
How can you use the Spawn to your advantage?
- The spawn is a seasonal cycle that predicts where bass will be found. In general, bigger males and females will start to spawn earlier than smaller ones, so aim for the lowest spawning temperatures to find the big ones.
- To identify potential spawning areas, use a map. These areas are ideal for those who can be bathed in direct sunshine and are protected from the prevailing winds. You should look for structures that provide protection or break the lines of sight, such as weed beds, rushes and rocks, downed tree branches, sunken logs, and bushes.
- It is important to get caught by irritation and trigger a reaction strike. Use brightly colored baits or imitations of predators such as panfish. As the bass isn’t in feeding mode, it is important to work them slowly. Fish shallow cover often.
- Sight fish can be seen in clear water. Get on the spawning beds and begin hammering every bass you see. Slow, methodical retrieves are best. You can make the males suspicious that your lure is a predator, and they will likely be watching for eggs and fry.
- Pay attention to the bass and not your bait! Tournament pros will tell tournament pros, “Most anglers fish to a specific spot and then watch for their bait.” This is a bad thing. You’ll learn more if you watch the fish. It may take longer to catch a fish if they leave the nest than they return after a few minutes. They will swim in tight circles when you cast onto the bed. If they get really excited about the bait crossing a particular spot, they are likely a catchable bass. Every bed has a sweet spot, which drives fish crazy every time they see it.
Our guide to choosing live bait for bass fishing is available here
Our favorite lure and soft bait choices to target largemouth fishing
It is important to work around the edges of cover such as weeds and target nests. We also recommend that you use more bottom-oriented lures and techniques during the spawn. Use premium hooks to slow your fall and match the hatch whenever possible.
You want to get the bass to take a bite.
A-Zoom Brush Hog is one of our favorite tools for triggering such a reaction strike. It doesn’t matter if you use it weedless to cover heavy vegetation, or if you just want to harass male nest-protectors with a hook, the Zoom Brush Hog’s irresistible flavor and smell will make it a great tool.
We prefer bright colors such as Bullfrog.
A good jerk bait like the Rapala Shad Rap is another top pick. The 09 size is my favorite, at 3 1/2 inches. There are a few good colors available and all of them work. However, there is a right and wrong way to fish this lure.
Rapala Shad Raps in “Yellow”.
You’ll often see a jerk bait treated like a crankbait on your local lake.
Our top jerkbait rods are available for you to see.
This lure should be fished with a trolling reel. Jerkbaits mimic injured fish and work best when they are still. It sounds absurd, but it’s true. You signal to bass by allowing some slack in the line and then twitching the lure erratically until it stops. This lure will be hit more often than they think.
Take a look at our top picks for bass fishing line
Avoiding repeating the same pattern is key. You don’t want this little guy to be retrieved, so you shouldn’t twitch it predictably. Varietate the twitches – one, four, two, and three – but don’t keep it in a straight line.
These are great to toss at spawning sites, where you can see 5-10 feet of water. As summer heats up, I also toss these along the edges of weed beds and other structures that I believe may be holding hungry bass.
Plastic worms and senkos are other options that we love. You can either nose-rig them and let them drop down the edges weeds, pilings or another cover, drop shot them and work the edges weed beds and nests.
Both are good for the money.
We love the Gene Larew 6′ Tattletail and Gary Yamamoto Senko. These two are a great way to see the action if you haven’t seen it before.
Gene Larew Tattletail Worm, “Sooner Run”
Gary Yamamoto Senko, “Watermelon/Red Flake.”
Our detailed guide to choosing the best bass fishing lures is available.
Angler skills can be tested by the spawn. This is often the best time to find out who has it all. Most tournament pros recommend that you skip the circuit if your spawn is not going well.
Anglers who have the right knowledge can still target large fish in difficult-to-reach areas during the spawn.
We hope this discussion helped you to better understand largemouth behavior during the spawn. We’d love to hear about your successes stories, tips, and advice for other anglers.