Largemouth Bass Spawning and Fishing Considerations

By Andy Whitcomb

Feb 28, 2016

Angler success for landing largemouth bass can be greatly affected by spawning activity.

Angler success for landing largemouth bass can be greatly affected by spawning activity. When discussing lure patterns, Bassmaster tournament anglers will explain bass behavior and location as either “pre-spawn,” “spawn,” or “post-spawn.”

Pre spawn. As the water temperature begins to warm, bass will no longer be “sulking” on the bottom of a cold lake and may be hungry. In fact, many of the largest bass are caught in this period, around the month of March for much of the country. They begin to “stage,” that is, move from deep water toward shallow spawning flats. A lipless crankbait can be a great lure during this time of year and you almost can’t go wrong with a spinnerbait year round.

Spawn. As water approaches about 55 degrees bass are focusing on spawning and the big females may not be in the mood to eat. The timing of this activity varies greatly. For example in Missouri, it can be from April to June. Targeting bass on nests is controversial as there is evidence that removal of a bass from a nest, even for a short time, can result in the nest being raided, perhaps by bluegill. In clear water, the shallow depressions created in areas of small gravel by bass are an easy target by anglers but it can be a challenge to get these fish to bite. White, soft plastic lures may eventually annoy the bass, but it may hit not to eat but to remove to pest from the nest.

Post spawn. This can be a tough time to catch bass because it takes a while for the bass to recover from spawning activity. Bass caught during or just after spawning may have telltale reddish or tattered fins from clearing gravel and debris from the nest. Eventually bass will get hungry again and all traditional lures (topwater, soft plastics, crankbaits, etc.) will work again. Your best bet may be to start by visiting those same fish transition areas that you fished during pre-spawn.

Right now, much of the northern half of the country is in what perhaps could be called, “pre-pre-pre-spawn.” Cold water techniques continue to produce as the ice recedes. However, the activity will soon change. Check here for more tips to make sure you are ready.

Andy Whitcomb
Andy Whitcomb
Andy is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.