For a bass angler, this is the best time of the year to fish. The early spring and warming water temperatures bring big bass shallow in order to make babies. This is a time of year known by bass anglers as the “spawn.” It’s when bass come out of their deep water winter haunts and start the process of producing young fry (baby bass). Many an angler has laid awake at night dreaming of catching that fish of a lifetime during the months of late February, March and April. While there are some fish that live shallow year around, there’s also a group of bass that live deep all year long until Mother Nature says “go make babies.” This is when your bigger female bass pull into the shallow waters and become more susceptible to being caught while making beds and laying their eggs when conditions are right.
Now some northern states have rules that prevent anglers from fishing during the spawning season and will actually close their lakes during this time of year. This is mainly due to the fact that northern states have a much shorter growing season. It’s also a way to ensure the bass has a better opportunity to spawn without interruption or being caught and taken off the bed. But here in the south, anglers take full advantage of this opportunity by what we call “sight fishing.” Sight fishing is where an angler attempts to see and catch a bass in shallow water while it’s sitting on a bed. Now for the most part, the male bass (anglers call a buck) will come in days before the females and actually look for a place to build the nest (or bed). The females bass sit just off the first drop out in deeper water waiting for the water to warm up. Now it varies on what is the exact water temp for bass to spawn but it can range from 58 up to 65 degrees. This is what I consider stage one of three.
The second stage is where the female pulls up into the shallow water pairing up with a male and continuing to prepare the bed. But once the female commits to coming in and laying her eggs, there’s not much that will cause her to pull off the bed other than a major cold front or hard falling water. It’s truly amazing how resilient bass are and how Mother Nature herself will make sure conditions are right.
Stage three is when the female is now ready to lay her eggs. She literally starts to rock and roll from side to side while the buck bass hits her on her side in order to loosen up her eggs as she deposits them into the bed. It’s at this point the male will fertilize the eggs and the female will leave and pull out to first drop off and recover. Sometimes they will head for the nearest cover like a brush top or maybe a boat dock as they go through recovery mode. The male will hang around and protect the eggs even after they turn into fry (baby bass). This protection period by the male only lasts so long, as at some point they will actually turn against and feed on the fry themselves. So how can the fry protect themselves? Well they need good cover like brush or good thick vegetation like hydrilla (grass) where they can hide from the bigger fish which allows them to reach a size where they can fend for themselves.
Once again, I hope you learned something from all this spawning talk and I hope you have a better understanding of how Mother Nature works. The spawn really is an amazing process that keeps our lakes and rivers stock with good quantities of fish. Tune in every Monday on our Facebook page at 12:30 CST. for Tackle Talk Live as we discuss the latest news and tournament results from Toledo Bend, Sam Rayburn and other great bodies of water found right here in the Ark-La-Tex region. Until next time, don’t forget to set the hook!!! – Steve Graf