In the early spring, typically the March to April time frame (depending on water temperature), largemouth bass spawning occurs. The key is not the date and time, but the temperature of the water in which the bass reside. Now the answer may depend on who you ask, but most experts will agree that when inshore water temperatures reach 58-60 degrees Fahrenheit, that the bass will prepare for the spawn.
Where does largemouth bass spawning occur?
The male bass spends time looking for the perfect area to build their nest. They will travel up and down the shore line, looking for that perfect spot. The bass are looking for firm bottoms in about 1 to 4 feet of water in which to build their nests. They’ll tend to choose areas with weeds, lilies, or bulrushes, but the bottom must be solid, thus bass will not usually go for areas where the bottom is mostly silt. If there aren’t enough covered areas, the bass will go for open areas on the sunny side of a rock or log submerged in the water.
Bass usually will not setup a nest close to another nest location. So if they can see another male setting up a nest, they will move on. This generally leads to nests being about 30 feet or more apart. Once they find a spot to spawn, they will use a shaking motion of the head tail to stir up the bottom and remove the loose debris. This will lead to a saucer shaped depression in the bottom of the shallow area.
It is important to note that the largemouths will not begin the actual spawn until the water temperature reaches 63 – 68 degrees Fahrenheit. The water temperature must remain in this range for several day in order for the bass to spawn. If a cold front or other weather interrupts this water temperature range, it will delay the spawn. Once that temperature is right and the fish are ready to spawn, the male will nudge the female to release the eggs, then the male will cover the eggs with his sperm (also called milt).
The typical nest will yield 2,000 – 10,000 fry (baby bass) from which only about 4 or 5 bass will reach 10 inches in length. After the fry reach 1 inch in length, the male bass watching over them will relinquish them, and may even begin to eat them.
So if you are in the spawning season, and the temperature is right, look for those saucer shaped depressions in shallow water, as those are the best spots to fish! Because of the instinctive protection measures that the male bass exerts over its young, these bass are going to be prone to striking a lure or other bait that invades their spawning territory. So using vibrant colors during this time of the year has merit. A hot pink or red crank bait moving through a spawning ground of a protective male bass may very well lead to a defensive strike, and thus a fish!