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The Spawn Is On

by: Lloyd Tackitt , Texas 4/24/2013
There are four general phases to the bass spawn.

Phase One:
The males first move up onto the beds when the water temperature warms to 58 degrees or more. They make beds only 12 to 18 inches deep because the warmest water is in the extreme shallows. The bass spawn deeper as the water continually heats up.

You'll see males on the beds four or five days before the females show up, The females are in the same general area.  To catch the big females, Cast a light colored buzzbait over submerged moss near the beds. If bass refuse the buzzbait, try a Texas rigged 6-inch lizard. You also catch males this way.

Should swimming a lizard or worm fail to catch the females, fish ledges just outside the spawning area with a Carolina rigged lizard.

Phase Two:
Males and Females Pair Off.  Cast beyond the bed and pull the bait through the grass into the bed. Then let the bait set and barely shake it on a slack line.  The moon phase influences how long it takes to catch a bedding bass, claim some. The bass are more aggressive during a full or new moon.

Phase Three:
Females laying eggs. This is when a female bass is locked on a bed and dropping eggs. She typically rocks back and forth on the bottom, and the male hits her in the sides to break the eggs loose. You can usually fish close enough to see rolling bass without spooking them. However, it's hard to get their attention with your lures when they're in this state.

Though it's hard to catch a female while she's rolling, it's now-or-never time. She will leave as soon as she finishes dropping her eggs.  Use bright colored baits, which needs to be fished close to the her mouth. She's not likely to move to get it.If you have to, bump the female in the head with a bait, This often triggers a reflex strike.

Phase Four:
Leaving the beds. When you see mostly males on the beds and clouds of bass fry, it's time to change strategy to catch the females.  Working a buzzbait tight to docks and dock pilings often works on the females after they drop their eggs and leave the nest. As the big females leave shallow water for the deeper water, they often stop at docks to rest and feed.

This is a good time to practice catch and release.  Catching bass off a spawning bed may stress them out so much that they won't return to the nest, and those fry will be unprotected - but if you don't release them there's no chance for those fry at all.

Blog content © Lloyd Tackitt
Member comments
Flyrodn, CO   4/24/2013 12:35:18 PM
I've been doing a bit of reading on bass as of late, and found it interesting that the males coax the females in and that the female are not always true to one male, laying eggs in as many as three nest. Some studies suggest, pulling the male from the nest after the eggs are laid can result in near total loss of the eggs/fry due to predation, even if he returns to the nest. Personally, I avoid knowingly fishing bedding fish.
Coyute, CO   4/24/2013 2:03:47 PM
Thanks for the refresher course Lloyd. Knowingly fishing for bedding fish and catching fish you know are on the spawn is the same thing IMO. Just because you can't see the spawning fish you are catching doesn't make you any more ethical or pious in my book. If a person was so worried about depleting a fishery because of fishing during the spawn, I would advice that person not to fish during the spawn at all and let the people who see both sides of the coin have their fun.
Lloyd Tackitt (Lloyd Tackitt), TX   4/24/2013 6:37:11 PM
I see it as a personal choice, but one that can be made based on knowledge. If you're fishing in waters that have few fish you may want to decide one way, on the other hand if you're fishing in waters that are overstocked with stunted fish you might choose differently. I don't want to come off as preachy, just putting it all out there. There are too many circumstances in each situation to call it all one way or the other.
Dave Mauldin, TX   4/25/2013 2:44:05 PM
Excellent summary of the spawn. My only suggestion, if you do catch a large bass full of eggs, pls release gently, asap. Then she has a chance to procreate. They are pretty tough, and can survive being caught, as long as you handle them properly. Don't hold a large fish up by the lower jaw it's belly with the other hand, and try not to get your hands, boat carpet, etc against their body any more than you have to...Someone might want to post a "how to handle fish" blog
Flyrodn, CO   4/25/2013 3:43:00 PM
Dave makes a great point on handling of trophy fish. Unfortunately, tournament fishing, especially the large number of pictures of fish being held vertically by the jaw during weigh-in has not help the cause on "proper" handling of big fish. And yes, I'm at fault also.
catchn, CO   4/25/2013 8:26:28 PM
Like others have said if you don't want to fish the spawn don't. Pack up the bass gear from now through July as some fish spawn late! Some biologist have said grabbing a female by the belly can damage eggs and you are doing more harm than just holding her by the jaw. You guys know how many millions of bass are held by there jaw every year and are just fine???? Just sayin
catchn, CO   4/25/2013 8:27:49 PM
Oh and good read lloyd, thanks! You like those buzz baits huh?
Flyrodn, CO   4/25/2013 8:43:48 PM
Just for fun, How to handle a Lunker from the TPWD share a lunker program. Sorry for the highjack Dave
Dave Mauldin, TX   4/26/2013 6:33:01 AM
Thanks Flyrodn, good explanation and video on how to support a large bass..... If some large creature picks me up by the lower jaw, please support my belly.
Lloyd Tackitt
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