One thing that makes bass fishing so much fun is chasing the fish across the different seasons. Bass are unique in the way that their behaviors change dramatically depending on the water temperature.
All throughout the winter, they’re slow, sluggish, and barely feeding. Once early spring starts to roll around they get more active. Anglers refer to this as the bass spawning season. They also call it that because it is – their spawning season.
One of the keys to becoming a better bass angler is understanding their patterns and how the weather can impact what they do. They’re constantly searching for food while avoiding predators and if you can understand how they do this, you’ll have a more successful day on the water.
Understanding Bass Spawning Season
Before I get too into it, just think about what the Bass might be doing when the water starts to warm and the ice has mostly melted. They’ve been sedentary for months now and they’re ready to break loose and start feeding again.
You’ll be battling a lot of bass at this time. They’ll feed aggressively and often but much of their behavior still relies on the temperature of the water.
This time of year is broken down into three segments; pre-spawn, spawn, and post-spawn.
Right when the ice melts bass are looking to take in a lot of calories because they need to reaccumulate the weight they lost during the winter and build their energy back. At this time bass will typically hang around in little coves, drop-offs, and near overhanging trees.
They’re looking for cover to set the stage for spawning. So, if we try to think like a fish in this scenario, you have to figure out what areas would work the best for bass that are trying to spawn.
The best way to locate these areas is with a fish finder of course, but you can certainly do it without.
You also want to think about their feeding and where they’ll do that. They will not feed near the spawning location and chances are you won’t be able to get close enough anyway. What you need to do is figure out the spawning location and find other points of structure nearby where they might go to feed.
Bass will stop around fallen trees, rocky dams, and other grassy areas to feed as they move to and from the spawning area.
As the water starts to warm a little more, bass will start to cozy up in the shallows to get the sun. Now is when you want to start thinking about the specific place you’re fishing.
If you’re fishing a small murky pond, these will warm up the quickest so you’ll find bass in the shallow water sooner here. If you’re fishing a large clear reservoir the water will be cleaner and deeper so it will take longer to warm up. The spawn here will occur later in the season.
This is the type of knowledge that separates the amateurs from the pro’s, knowing it will help you tremendously.
Now the water in the shallow is around 50-60 degrees. It’s time for the bass to spawn but they’re still relying on the weather to tell them what to do. A quick cold front could easily swing in and change everything overnight. Pay attention to the weather and fish deeper during and following the cold front.
As the weather begins to warm back up, the bass will move back into the shallow. They’ll hold firm near structure but they prefer to lay their spawn on a hard surface so rocks are typically the best place to look.
Remember, you’re still not catching bass in or necessarily around the spawning area, you want to figure out where they are and then find structure nearby where they may go to feed. Bass are still going to hold to structure even if it’s not the spawning area so this is where you’ll want to fish.
Your best bet for fishing spawning season is low-light and light rain. If you can find a day where you don’t cast shadows on the water, you have the best chances of catching something. Throwing a soft plastic near the spawn bed and twitching it gently will work like a charm.
At this time the larger female will move out from the spawning area to recover while the small male will stay back and guard the eggs. Following bass spawning season is when many other panfish will start to spawn. During this time is when bass are highly active but there’s also a lot of angling pressure.
If you plan on catching anything you need to be strategic, don’t fish where everyone else goes, and try to find ways into places where others may ignore. One great way to do this is by fishing with a kayak. If the water you’re fishing is calm enough, kayak fishing is an exceptional way to wet a line in a location that can’t be reached by a boat or from the shore.
Best Lures for Spawning Bass
Texas-Rigged Soft Plastic
Soft plastics are the best choice during this time because you can create a lot of action with them, there’s a large variety to meet the needs of the water, and they’re reliable all year long.
I suggest going with something scented like a Berkley Powerbait. The reason we rig it Texas style is because it makes it somewhat weedless which is important when you’re casting directly into the structure.
Topwater Stick Baits
Go with a topwater stick bait with a propeller because it will generate a lot of noise, attract tons of attention, and reflect the sunlight during the Spring which will help you get the bass that are trying to warm up.
The key with this is getting your cast on-point. You won’t have as much flexibility as you would with a soft plastic so you’ll need to locate the bed and cast near it. Retrieve with twitches followed by moments of silence to allow the ripples to settle. Most of these baits dive down and you’ll likely get a bite on the dive.
5 Expert Tips
Here are some of the best tips I’ve learned over decades of fishing and talking with a lot of professional and semi-pro anglers. Here’s what they have to say about fishing bass spawn.
1. Find The Cover
I know I’ve said it a million times but I’ll say it again, you need to locate the cover if you want to have success during spawning season. You can’t just drop your line anywhere and expect to catch something. The bass are holding close to very specific locations in the water and you need to figure out what those are.
2. Trick Them
One great way to trick them is by running through a perceived spawning location with the motor on high and look around for fleeing fish. If you see them scamper away rapidly without returning, you’ll want to keep moving. If the bass are a bit sluggish to move and they maintain their position for the most part, you’ve found a spawning area.
The bass who are spawning will never retreat too far from their eggs. You’ll want to make note of the area, leave for a while, and come back when things calm down.
3. Go In Blind
A lot of people think that they need to be able to actively see the bass to know they’ve found a spawning area, but that’s not true. Keep in mind that they’re holding very tight to the structure and if you’re fishing murky water you won’t be able to see them anyway. If you followed the previous tip and think you found a spot, go in blind and just drop your worm there.
4. Twitch and Jump
The goal of your presentation here is to aggravate the bass as much as you can to force them to strike. You’ll do this by creating the most obnoxious action possible. Shining blades, a lot of twitching, and jumping will do this. If you see the bass moving its tail, that’s a sign that it’s irritated and may strike soon.
5. Match Your Presentation
You need to match your lure to what you’re dealing with outside. Perhaps the water is very murky from snow run-off during the early Spring. The bass will have a harder time seeing your lure which means it won’t bother them as much. This is where a propeller or rattle will come in handy.
When the bass can’t see your lure, you need to make sure they can hear it. On the flip side, if you’re dealing with crystal clear water on a bright sunny day, blades or spoons will work well because they’ll reflect the sun and create a pretty big disturbance.
To finalize this learning experience, we want to remember one thing above all. Great anglers think like a bass. Look around you, take in the surroundings, notice the temperature, and don’t be stubborn. A lot of angler struggle simply because they’re not implementing some extra steps and they think they can drop their bait anywhere and catch something.
We need to always think like the fish and when we do, we’ll have a lot more success and a lot more fun!