When Do Bass Start to Spawn?

Team Cast & Conquer

Largemouth bass swimming over spawning beds
Largemouth bass swimming over spawning beds

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When do bass start to spawn? That's a question I've heard anglers ask a thousand times. Several factors affect when bass start spawning and those factors can interact to varying degrees depending upon bass species and the body of water.

Bass typically spawn in the early spring as the water begins to warm. The exact timing can vary dramatically because it's not based on a specific date, but on the water temperature and the changing of the seasons.

Largemouth bass typically begin spawning first, followed by spotted bass then smallmouth bass.

Largemouth usually spawn is water depths of 2 to 8 feet which warm faster so they start spawning earlier.

Spotted bass spawn in depths of 9 to 12 feet and smallmouth in depths of 3 to 18 feet.

Projected Spawning Dates

Chart showing the projected peak spawning dates for bass
Chart showing the projected peak spawning dates for bass

Image courtesy Pete Sucheski

Key Factors That Influence When Bass Spawn

Location:

Bass spawning season varies across the country. Generally, warmer southern states see the largemouth bass spawn in late January to early March.

The middle states will see the spawn in late March to April, while the most northern states may not see the bass spawn until June.

Water Temperature:

Bass begin the spawning process when the water temperature begins to rise above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once the water temperature is consistently above 60 degrees, bass will begin to travel toward more shallow areas.

Seasonal Changes:

The steady changing of the seasons also plays a role. For instance, ice-out and the weather afterwards determine when it begins.

A late ice-out generally pushes the spawn later, while an early ice-out allows the opportunity for the lake to warm up earlier in the calendar.

Moon Phase:

Some anglers believe that moon phase can also influence bass spawning behavior. Some studies suggest a full moon stimulates bass to move into shallow water to start spawning.

I’ve never really found this to be accurate so I always rely on water temperatures when determining when bass start spawning.

During the spawn, bass behavior changes significantly. They move to shallow waters and make nests at the bottom of the lake, pond, or river.

The spawning season covers the time when bass lay, fertilize, and then hatch their eggs. This makes it a prime time for fishing as bass can be easier to locate and more active during this period.

Best Baits for Spawning Bass

Shallow Crankbaits:

Since bass move into the shallows to spawn, using a shallow-running crankbait can be very effective. I've had incredible success with the Strike King KVD crankbait which has a diving depth of 3 to 6 feet. Its wobble gets a ton of strikes from protective bass.

Soft Stickbaits:

Soft stickbaits can be deadly throughout the spawn period. We love using the 6th Sense Clout Series stickbait in the color green pumpkin. It can be fished weightless, Texas-rigged, Carolina-rigged, on a shaky head, or even a drop shot rig.

Jerkbaits:

Jerkbaits are one of the best lures for spawning bass due to their strike-triggering movement and rattle. The aggressive darting action drive bass crazy. We recommend using the Rapala X-Rap suspending jerkbait in the color silver. It has a diving depth of 3 to 8 feet and comes to a rolling stop when suspending.

Spinnerbaits:

Spinnerbaits are effective throughout the year, but especially during the spawning season because bass view them as invading their beds. Bluegill and crappie often target bass eggs so matching the spinnerbait color in to one of them is important.

I've been using a 3/8oz. Booyah tandem blade spinnerbait in the color silver shiner for the last two years and its been a winner.

Flipping Jigs:

Flipping jigs are highly effective once you've discovered an area with several spawning beds. A jig gives you the opportunity to work each bed thoroughly.

I've found the War Eagle finesse jig in the black/blue color to be very reliable for fishing around spawning beds. Try adding a jig trailer like the NetBait Tiny Paca Chunk as well. This subtle change can trigger strikes.

Conclusion

When it comes to bass spawning, it's important to understand that the factors we covered in this post can interact in complex ways, and the exact timing of bass spawning can vary from one body of water to another.

Additionally, individual bass within a population may not all spawn simultaneously, leading to a staggered spawning season.

Understanding these factors can be beneficial for anglers looking to target bass during the spawning season.

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