Spring bass fishing is around the corner for some (enjoy it Texas) and a faint figment of the imagination for others (anyone up north). Regardless, every state will eventually have their spring bass spawn for both Largemouth and Smallmouth bass. Spring is probably voted the most exciting time to fish for bass. Many large basses seem to appear out of thin air on the spawning beds and then cease to exist the rest of the year.
The popular trophy bass legend Dottie, the 25-pound unofficial world record was frequently seen on her spawning bed, but never again the rest of the year. Big bass in small, concentrated areas of water means a lot of fun. But it is not as easy as it sounds. There is a lot of knowledge on the subject of the spring bass spawn. Below are my experiences specific to spring bass spawn locations.
Bass Spawn Temperatures
Bass eggs develop quicker in warmer water, so bass naturally wants the water as warm as possible for their spawn. Bass like to spawn in shallow bays which soak up the sun rays most effectively relative to the rest of the lake. The northwest side of the lake is usually the warmest part of the lake. Looking for shallow bays on the northwest side of the lake can’t be a bad place to look for spawning bass.
The premium spawn temperatures vary from region to region but expect at least some bass to spawn as soon as the water temperatures get to 65°. At 60° the males can be found scouting spawn beds looking for the best spot to defend the nest from sunfish and other predators. These males typically do not grow much larger than two pounds. While the males search for nests the females wait for the right time in the depths, probably no more than 150 feet away.
From 55° to 50°, when the water is a bit colder, the fish tend to stage nearby (like in a creek channel or on an adjacent point to a spawning flat) waiting for the waters to warm up. It is not that unusual for fish to move back and forth between staging areas throughout the day. The best fishermen will check and recheck typical spawning flats and holding zones throughout the day, it is only a matter of temperature before they run into the fish. When the water is much below 50° the fish hang out on main points in deeper water close to the spawning flats. The image below is a place I’ve fished spawns before and had great results.
Extra Spring Fishing Tips
Lake surface temperature is not equal to deeper water temperature. For example, a trolling motor takes the surface temperature at 61° on a warm spring day. This would mean the bass are on the beds. But this temperature is only the surface temperature, three feet below the water hasn’t soaked up those sun rays and is still 57°, thus the bass is still hanging in deep channels. For this reason, some trolling motors have two temperature gauges, one at the surface and another at the base of the motor 2-3 feet below.
These temperature estimations are not absolute. Depending on the region, the optimal temperatures may change. Also, Largemouth bass has evolved in such a way that schedules the population to spawn at different times. For example, some bass will spawn at 60° and others will spawn at 68°. This evolutionary defensive mechanism protects the population from natural disasters. Say, for example, a very bad storm front comes through after all bass lay their eggs–the water temperature plummets and all males leave the nests, leaving all eggs to be eaten by predators–the spawn is a disaster. This is why not all bass spawn at once. All bass will spawn over a period of a few weeks to cover for drastic circumstances. I’ve frequently read that the largest females tend to spawn earlier than the rest of the bass.
Spring Spawn Weather
Weather is obviously a big factor for the spring spawn. Keep in mind warm rain will be much more effective at increasing the water temperature than sunlight will. Spring is often a time of cold fronts and unstable weather. The fish will be moving back and forth between spawning and staging areas for weeks. In general, though, wait for a few solid days of sunlight and head for a shallow bay! I prefer to search for bass on the beds in the afternoon, giving the sun a few extra hours to warm up the shallows.
Dark-bottomed bays heat quicker than lighter-colored bays because the dark color soaks up the heat more effectively like a black car will heat up quicker than a white car left in the sun. Dark-bottomed, shallow, and calm bays, adjacent to large lake points and deep water are ideal spawn locations. Also, lots of shoreline structure is essential. Weeds, brush, logs, laydowns, docks, or anything else the bass will find helpful in defending the eggs against predators are prime bed locations.