Spawning Process: Largemouth Bass

spawning largemouth bass

The Spawning Process Largemouth Bass

There comes a time each spring when you begin to see big bass in the shallows. They are preparing for the spawn and it is a great time to catch some really big largemouth bass. Knowing the spawning process of the largemouth bass will help you catch more of these big females while they are in the shallows where you can flip to cover or work a popper over top of potential spawning areas for some exciting fishing. Remember to quickly release these bass where you catch them so they can return to their spawning site to continue the process.

  1. Spawning female largemouth bass cruise potential spawning areas in small groups. I call these bass cruisers, they are transitioning from pre spawn to spawning activity.
  2. Males move into the spawning areas and select a bed site and begin to sweep a small spot clean of bottom debris, then guard this site from other males.
  3. Lone females return to the spawning area looking for s suitable nest site and mate.
  4. The male tries to encourage the females to his best site, this is the courting period. The male nips at the female and she either moves off or sticks around. The courting phase takes a few days with the male near the bed and the female staging close by. Both are now guarding the nest site and chasing away all intruders.
  5. The pair move onto the bed and the female lays eggs, the male fertilizing them, lots of aggressive movements by the female on it’s side and kicking the tail that increases the bed size.
  6. Both bass now are in or near the bed site until the female is finished laying that batch of eggs. 
  7. The female moves off to deeper water to rest while the male largemouth stays with the eggs until they hatch chasing away all intruders including other female bass.
  8. The female is resting and recovers to lay another batch of eggs at a different bed site, transitioning to post spawn.
  9. The male guards the eggs until they hatch and stays with the fry until something triggers the male to attack and eat some fry, then moves off.
  10. It takes between 3 to 10 days for eggs to hatch depending on water temperature, the warmer the water faster they hatch.

Where Do Bass Spawn

The first step in catching spawning largemouth bass is to find them. Bass spawn in the same area each spring unless there is a drastic change. Once located bass anglers can return each spring to find spawning largemouth bass. Look for shallow water bays with a hard bottom. Gravel is the best materials for spawning bass to lay their eggs. You can spot gravel banks or use your electronics to look for hard bottom. Usually if the bottom is gravel you will see gravel on the shoreline.

My dad used to idle around probing the bottom with a long river cane. When the cane hit gravel the sound was obvious and we began fishing and usually found a few fish in the area. We did this in Florida where the lake was shallow and bass and other fish would spawn among the lily pads so the shoreline wasn’t visible. The water was also too dark to see bottom, even in 3 foot of water.

Bass make their redds or beds to lay their eggs on hard bottom. The male begins the process early then the females move up in search of a bed to lay their eggs. If the water is clear you can see the activities happening if not then you must guess where a bass might be spawning. The best way to do this is to fish stumps, treetops and other cover. Bass prefer and will seek a piece of cover to spawn by. There is nothing better than a shallow bay with a hard bottom, preferably gravel, that is riddled with stumps. I have seen spawning bays like this that has had a spawning pair on nearly every stump that I could see. There was also bass on stumps I could not see.

When Do Bass Spawn

When do bass spawn? Bass will begin the spawning process when the water temperature hits about 55 degrees. Males will begin to get active in the shallows as they begin searching for a spawning site. When you begin catching smaller males in shallow spawning areas you know that is is beginning to happen. It might be another week before the big females move up depending on the weather. Those big female largemouth bass are nearby waiting or staging as it is known. Female largemouth bass will stage for the spawn usually at the first good drop from the shallows.

This could be a depth change of just a couple feet. You can locate this drop by moving out of the shallows and watching your fish finder. If there is a creek channel look there for staging pre-spawn bass. Nothing beats fishing the area and these pre-spawn largemouth bass will eat. They are in a feeding mood to put on the calories needed to endure the upcoming spawn.

How To Catch Spawning Largemouth Bass

Catching spawning largemouth bass can be difficult at times. Bass stop eating during the spawn and you must count on them to strike out of protecting their bed. The most common way of catching spawning bass is to let a soft plastic sit in their bed until the bass picks it up to move it. Sometimes this is quick and sometimes it takes some times.

While I do not have the patience to fish for a bass for several hours there are tournament anglers that find it worthwhile and are often rewarded with a much needed bass for the livewell. A Texas rigged soft plastic is a great way to fish a bed. A light weight and bright colored bait is best. The light weight allows the bass to slurp up the bait. This gets the bait fully in its mouth for the hook set. The bright color will help you see the bait and where it is on the bad.

As you fish for and catch spawning bass you will learn to judge their mood. This reading of a spawning bass’ mood can give you a good idea whether the bass will strike or not. This is true only if your fishing clear enough water to see this. If you fish where the water is not clear there are other tactics for locating beds that have bass spawning on them. Floating worms, frog baits and my favorite a popper are all great baits for searching for spawning bass. Casting these topwater baits into likely spawning spots like near a bush or stump can get a reaction from the spawning bass.

Sometimes you will hook the bass that rises to your topwater bait but most of the time they will just swirl at it to get it away from its bed. These baits are great search baits because you are able to work down a bank that you think has spawning bass and quickly survey the area. Bass, especially in dirty water, will make their bed in very shallow water. When they are so shallow these topwater baits really disturbs them and they will react. Even when the bed is in a couple feet of water spawning largemouth bass will come up to get the bait away from them. When this happens you know where to soak your Texas rigged worm or craw to catch the bass when they pick it up to move it. Very effective way to catch spawning largemouth bass in the spring.

Great video showing how to catch spawning bass

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About Ken McBroom 307 Articles
Ken McBroom is an accomplished outdoor writer and photographer. Growing up in Lynchburg Tennessee allowed him many opportunities afield as a boy and young man. Later in life, after Desert Storm, Ken’s wanderlust took him to Alaska to live and work and experience the last frontier. Married now with two beautiful children, Ken now calls Kentucky home where he continues to communicate our American outdoor traditions and the lifestyle it offers.

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