As we transition from the cold months of winter so do the Bass. Bass begin to prepare for the spawning ritual. Bass will begin to move from the deep waters of the main lake where they have been wintering to protected bays that will be warm sheltered from the cold northern winds and have fertile soil with a hard bottom. This will begin as early as February in the southern lakes and to April or may in the northern lakes. Usually once the water temp begins to climb above 55-57 deg the Bass begin to move and spread out and head to there spawning areas. It has a lot to due with the amount of sunlight we get as spring approaches. Bass will usually spawn starting at 59 deg and higher. Bass can spawn all the way until August in some lakes but will spawn deeper that late in the year. Before Bass spawn they will feed heavily and be on the search for a big meal.
Things like, spinnerbaits, grubs, senkos, jigs, swimbaits, lizards and rattle traps are typical baits to use. These fish will not be moving fast in early spring but will be ready to eat. Bass spawn in waves and the north west faced banks with dark bottom usually will warm up first and are a good place to start, then the south banks will warm up and have another wave of fish moving in to spawn. At one time you will have Bass in pre spawn mode, spawn mode, and post spawn mode. You can start by fishing points that lead to protected bays, coves,creek arms and protected marinas. Once the fish are located you can follow them right to there spawning grounds and back out to the main lake. They will sit in areas with deep water next to these spawning flats until the weather is just right. Keep in mind deep water is relative to the area you are fishing and can be as little as 5ft. If a creek channel swings into a bank this is a good place to look for pre spawn bass as they use these creek channels like migration highways to there spawning flat. If there is any cover adjacent to the spawning areas these are good places to look in pre spawn as well and will be where the Big bass retreat to if spooked or any cold front move through and make her hold off from the spawn. Keep in mind these Bass are looking for warmer water as the females need to incubate there eggs. They will many times suspend and sit in trees or docks before they move to spawn.
Hard fertile bottom is a key to locating where Bass will spawn.
Things to look for to find spawning areas, willow trees on the bank this means good fertile soil,sparse tules this tells you the bottom is hard and the bass will spawn here,sand or gravely bottom, Plants or flowers blooming on the bank this tells you you have good fertile soil, Areas with any brush,also Bass will spawn on a piece of wood,cement,rubber boat ramps or any hard bottom if that is the best thing they can find in the body of water your fishing they will spawn on it. And a Bass will always try to spawn next to something a stick a weed a overhanging branch they don’t like being out in the open unprotected. Big fish will spawn on a small flat next to a drop off!
These critters are a little different than the large mouth Bass and don’t play by the same rules. Spotted Bass tend to spawn earlier than large mouth when the water is below 60deg and will spawn several times all the way through the fall they are flat out goofy!. Spots will spawn in coves too, but it is more common for them to spawn on the sides of the coves or pockets right off the main lake. Spots will always be concentrated in the river or inflow section of the lake. The giant spots tend to come from the main lake. These bass like to spawn on areas with sand and rock mixed from 5 to 25 ft deep yes they bed in up to 25ft! find this combination and you will find spawning spotted bass. Spots will eat a lot of crayfish,minnows and trout.
Smallies will tend to spawn in coves and protected areas as well and tend to like areas with lots of gravel type rock really small rocks. They will spawn on the sides of coves and on baron flat long tapering points. A small tube on a Berserk Baits dart head is your best bet to catch these guys! Much like the Spotted bass these fish will spawn first before large mouth.
Hope this gives you a better perspective on where to look for spring time Bass! And remember please practice catch and release during the spawn as pulling a fish of its bed especially the males hurts the future of our sport since the males protect the baby bass. And let those fat females go so they can make some babies.
If you would like to know more ask a pro