Springtime means spawning largemouth bass. While the males are busy building their nests, the females are finalizing their egg production and getting ready to release them.
The spawn is extremely interesting and an exciting time for anglers. But when exactly do largemouth bass spawn?
Largemouth bass will spawn sometime during April and June, depending on their geographical distribution. They typically spawn in water temperatures of 65 to 75F and near-shore areas with a depth between 1 and 4 feet.
Read on and get all the facts and valuable tips about the largemouth bass spawn!
What Time of Year Do Largemouth Bass Spawn?
Depending on their range, largemouth bass will spawn during early spring and early summer, most commonly sometime during April and June.
While the southern populations typically spawn during late winter and early spring, the northern populations will start spawning sometime during late spring and early summer.
Of course, the exact time of spawning can vary from year to year due to changing temperature and weather patterns and varying lengths of the winter season.
Naturally, colder winters will lead to a later spawning during those years, and shorter winters will lead to an earlier spawning of the largemouth bass.
To give you a general idea of the largemouth’s spawning periods in different regions and states, I went ahead and gathered the data:
|Distribution||Time of Spawning|
|Ontario (Canada)||Mid-May through late June|
|Minnesota (USA)||Early May through mid-June|
|Michigan||Early May through mid-June|
|Iowa||Early May through early June|
|Missouri||Mid-April through late May|
|Tennessee||Early April through mid-May|
|Alabama||Early April through mid-May|
|Texas||Early March through mid-April|
|Florida||Late February through mid-April|
Please keep in mind that these are really just general periods that can differ somewhat from year to year!
A better way of knowing if the bass spawn is on is by checking your water’s temperature!
Where Do Largemouth Bass Spawn?
Largemouth bass seek out shallow, near-shore areas for their spawning and commonly prefer water depths between 1 and 4 feet.
They mostly spawn over hard ground such as sand, gravel, or mud. If any type of cover or structure accompanies those bottom features, you’ll most likely find spawning bass there!
Such cover or structure can include the following:
- Rock piles
- Sunken or overhanging trees
- Any type of vegetation
The combination of shallow water and cover has several advantages for the largemouth bass:
- Shallow water warms up faster during spring and keeps bigger predators away from the nests and the fry
- The cover or structure provides shelter from wind and waves and plenty of food for the bass’ hungry young
If you can locate such spawning grounds or, even better, the largemouths’ nests, you’ll have a huge advantage and be very likely to land some big pre-spawn fish.
How you should target largemouth bass during the spawn and what baits you should use will be covered further down in this article, so keep reading!
At What Water Temperature Do Largemouth Bass Spawn?
The length of the seasons might change, but the water temperature at which largemouth bass spawn always remains the same. In most waters, bass will spawn in temperatures between 65 and 75F.
Once the shallower areas near the shore reach a water temperature in the high 50s, the males will move in to start building the nests.
The female largemouths will follow them when the temperature enters the low 60s and remains stable over a couple of days.
The bass will start spawning as soon as the water temperature is around 65F.
Interestingly, they can abruptly pause their spawning activity if temperatures are getting too high (over 80F) or too low (under 60F) to ensure their eggs’ survival.
This usually leads to a second or even a third spawning round once the temperatures are in the proper range again.
This phenomenon of multiple spawning will be covered further in the article, so make sure to keep reading!
How Many Eggs Do Largemouth Bass Lay?
Adult largemouth bass females can lay an average of 3,000 to 4,000 eggs per pound of their body weight.
However, bigger females tend to produce bigger and hence fewer eggs, bringing the total amount down significantly.
And so, while a small largemouth bass female of 4lb might lay between 15,000 and 20,000 eggs, a much larger female of perhaps 14lb might only produce and lay between 30,000 and 40,000 eggs.
How Heavy Do Female Largemouth Bass Get During the Spawning Season?
The eggs of the female largemouth bass will add an extra 10 to 15% to the fish’s overall body weight. The closer the spawning gets, the heavier those eggs, and consequently, the female bass will weigh.
So if you’re into weights and trophy bass, targeting big pre-spawn females might be just the thing for you! (But please handle them properly and practice catch and release whenever you can)
To give you a better idea about the difference in weight, I ran some numbers and created this little table:
|Normal Weight||Pre-Spawn Weight|
|5lb||5.5 – 5.75lb|
|8lb||8.8 – 9.2lb|
|10lb||11 – 11.5lb|
|12lb||13.4 – 14lb|
|15lb||16.5 – 17.25lb|
So as you can see, a largemouth female caught during the spawning season can weigh significantly more than during the rest of the year!
What Is the Best Bait for Largemouth Bass During the Spawn?
Alright, so you know when and where to find spawning bass. Now, you’ll want to know what you should hit them with!
What’s important to remember is that largemouth bass will be extremely territorial and aggressive during the spawn!
So if you throw baits at them that will trigger their defenses or simply irritate them, you’ll be golden!
Remember that those fish are not in the mood to feed, so you will have to aggravate them to get hooked up.
And how do you best do that? Well, with baits that have one or several of the following features:
- noisy or rattling
- brightly colored
- resembling an egg predator
Basically, use anything that could irritate them and cause a reaction strike.
Your top picks will either include noisy, brightly-colored cranks or jigs, or naturally-colored softbaits or creature baits that resemble egg predators (sunfish!).
The following are some of the most effective baits for (pre-)spawning largemouth bass. You’ll find all of these top bass baits on Amazon if you want to take a closer look:
- Rapala Shad Rap (Crankbait)
- Strike King Game Hawg (Creature Bait)
- Reaction Tackle Tungsten (Swim Jig)
- Booyah Blade (Spinnerbait)
Again, try to locate the nests and the bass that will be close to them, throw your baits as close to them as possible, and enjoy those fierce reaction strikes and insane pre-spawn bass fights!
Should You Fish for Spawning Largemouth Bass?
This is a much-debated question, and the answer isn’t all that easy. In waters with large and healthy largemouth populations, fishing for them during the spawning season doesn’t do any harm if you handle the fish correctly.
On the contrary, targeting spawning fish should best be avoided in waters with decreasing or critical bass populations so that they may recover and become more robust again.
If a population is deemed sustainable, I don’t see any issue in targeting bass during the spawn.
I target pre-spawning predators myself, and many other anglers do the same in the waters I fish in. I have yet to see a negative impact on those populations due to fishing pressure during the spawning season!
Of course, proper handling of those fish should always be a priority, especially when they’re about to spawn!
So if you land your fish safely, handle it quickly and properly, and then release it near its nest, in my opinion, you’re good to go to catch largemouths during the spawn!
PRO TIP: Just want a quick visual summary of this article? Then check out the related Google Web Story on the largemouth spawn!
Do Male Largemouth Bass Guard The Nests?
After the spawning is completed, the females will leave the spawning grounds while the male largemouths stay behind to guard the nests.
They do so for several reasons that are all highly vital to the survival of the young:
- They fan the silt away from the eggs until they hatch. The silt would otherwise quickly fill the nests and cut off the oxygen the eggs depend on.
- They keep the sunfish away from the eggs. Sunfish predation is one of the biggest threats to largemouth bass eggs.
- Males also keep other predators away from the hatched fry. They will continue to guard their young until they are big and strong enough to survive on their own and disperse.
The guarding of the eggs and fry may take 2 weeks or more, and males will only leave the nest if water temperatures drop to 60F or lower.
The eggs will usually not survive such cold temperatures, so the male basically gives up and abandons them.
RELATED ARTICLE: What Is the Best Color for Largemouth Bass in Clear Water?
Do Largemouth Bass Spawn Twice a Year?
While largemouth bass only have one spawning period per year, they can actually spawn two or three times in a row.
Females will typically release half of their eggs in one nest and then move on to the next to spawn with yet another male.
Additionally, it is not uncommon for largemouth bass to spawn a third time, about one month after the regular spawning period is over.
Do Largemouth Bass Eat Their Young?
Despite being overly protective parents, male largemouths occasionally eat their own young, even though cannibalism is limited in waters with enough forage.
However, if a lake or river system lacks adequate amounts of other food sources, largemouth bass, being opportunistic feeders, will turn on their young and eat them.
An extensive study on a lake in Michigan, where largemouth bass were the only fish species, has shown that cannibalism can be fairly common in such waters.
And even though it had a significant effect on recruitment and the overall population structure of the bass there, it was also a vital source of energy for them, creating a sort of weird but effective balance, as it ensured the future survival of the population.
Essential Gear Tips
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