Bass Spawn When the Water Temp’s Are _____ (fill in the blank)
The most talked about, paid attention to, or over-used statistic when it comes to spring time bassin’ is the water temp. We’ve been led (misled) to believe that water temp controls everything bass do…from feeding, to staging to spawning. The problem is that is you wait for the perfect temperature to hit and then go into you spawn fishing approaches, you are at once too early and too late.
Biologically, a bass’ metabolism is wired to water temp. Which gets down to digestion. The quicker they digest, then the quicker they can use the next meal.
When it comes to spawning, most research shows that bass will spawn over a wide range of water temps (50’s-70’s). While a bulk of bass will spawn in the middle of that range, say 58-62, each bass is it’s own individual and will likely spawn due to a photo-period (amount of daylight) and a location rather than a specific water temp. In other words, bass are pre-programmed to spawn in a certain time of year and in a certain location – most likely having to do with when and where they were hatched.
Environmental conditions or disasters can and have wiped out the spawn for groups of bass. But most biologists feel that genetic predispositions lead bass to spawn over a wide range and time period as a way to “protect” that one event won’t wipe out the spawn for the whole fishery.
The more complex, large and diverse the body of water, the more you are likely to see a spawning season that lasts for several months over a wide area.
The Best Time to Catch a Big Bass is During the Spawn
Big Bass, meaning female bass, are involved in the spawning process for a very limited, small window of time. While it’s possible to catch the bass of a lifetime during the spawn, the pre-spawn window has better odds for a bucket-list bass. What is true about the spawn, is that despite their tight window of being there, big females are in areas that we are likely looking for them (shallower, and closer to the bank) than at any other time of year.
In fact, I would argue the opposite: The best time to catch a small, male bass…is during the spawn.
Bass Are Easy to Catch During the Spawn
Most bass fisherman don’t know and don’t want to know how many bedding bass will not bite. It would hurt our egos to know how truly ineffective we are. While some bass may never bite, others can and do become conditioned to us fishing for them. They “learn” what not to do and what cues (sounds, sights, etc.) are connected to negative feedback.
Each bass needs to be considered as an individual with “moods”, “habits” and things it is wired to do.
If I Catch the Male Off the Bed, the Female Will be Easier to Catch
Female bass are involved in a complicated game of match-making and survival of the fittest. They are there and reactive because of the presence of the male. Without his presence, they will leave and be “courted” by another male. These are the odds. Of course, if you or your partner are quick enough it is possible to pitch right back in and catch the female, but the odds say without the male her motivation for being there and reacting (in a good way) to your bait is not good.
To Bass Fish During the Spawn, I Have to See the Bed and the Bass
Often referred to as “sight” fishing, this is the technique that most bass anglers associate with fishing during the spawn or “bed fishing.” But every bass has that boundary or barrier that, once you break it, they will move off the bed or will not bite. So your efforts to see the bass might just be making your chances of catching the bass diminish rapidly.
Being at the right distance where you can accurately present the bait and then feel and manipulate the bait is the key. If that means you don’t see the bed, the bass or the bait, then so be it.
During the Spring, I Have to Bed Fish to Be Successful in Tournaments
Unless you have a rare blend of patience and efficiency, bed fishing during a tournament will cause more frustrations than successes. If you are fishing in a Pro-Am or Boater/Non-Boater format, bed fishing is sure to cause an unpleasant experience for one or both people in the boat.
Even in a team format, it is rare that teams utilize both team members in a way that is effective and efficient. Often teams will be in a competitive mentality within the boat and both team members frantically changing lures and presenting to the same fish on the same bed at the same time. Not the recipe for tournament success.
Pre-Spawn and even Post-Spawn bass will account for more tournament wins than spawning bass.
The More I Change Colors and Baits, the Better My Chance to Catch It.
Bed fishing is first and foremost about specific (measured in inches) location, angles, pacing, patience, size, and sequencing. Color is probably the least important of those keys, but the one that many anglers will spend the most time dealing with. In fact, color is part of so many other variables that it can be difficult to tell if and when it makes a difference.
Color (as always) is more about angler confidence than a prerequisite for the bass.
Empty Beds Means the Spawn is Over Or The Temperature Got Too Cold
Empty beds most often mean that the male, the one in charge of making and guarding the bed, is nearby but not on the bed. Very likely because you spooked it off. You being able to see the bass on the bed has nothing to do with if you got too close or not. Eyesight among anglers is all over the place. Plus, the quality of your glasses, your angle in relationship to the angle of the sun, and the wind will all play a factor in you ever seeing the bass or the bed.
Another thing to consider is that bass tend to have different phases where they are loosely relating to the bed and then more tightly relating and finally, “locked” on. Those phases not only vary day to day but within the day, so a bed that appears “empty” in the morning probably has a bass loosely tied to it that you just spooked off. That same bed may have a bass that is much more tightly associated with it or even locked on just a few hours later that day.
Fan Casting Reaction Baits Around, Over and Through Likely Bedding Areas is the Best Way to Catch Spawning Bass.
Uhm…No. It’s undoubtedly the worst way to catch ’em. The more tightly associated that bass is to that bed, the less likely they are to wander and chase your moving, lateral, reaction bait.
Your best bet is something small, natural or “non-cue” associated (not loud, not shiny, and without lots of moving appendages). Think subtle, small, silent and spot specific (again, measured in inches) when selecting baits for spawning bass.
It is entirely possible to trigger a bite with something large, gaudy, and loud – worked aggressively overhead or quickly through the bed. But that is another, more in-depth topic for another time.
In the meantime, start with these 9 basics and start busting some myths and some bass!