BlogMarch 2018

4 Determining Factors for Freshwater Fish Spawning Times

4 Determining Factors for Freshwater Fish Spawning Times

By Debbie Hanson

Mar 21, 2018

Learn about freshwater fish spawning times, how to plan your fishing trip around spawning periods, why fish feed more actively during spawning season. 

If you've ever planned a fishing trip around freshwater fish spawning times, you may already know that the bite can be consistent and incredibly exciting. The reason for this boost in activity is because fish, such as the largemouth bass, tend to feed heavily as they prepare to spawn.

OK, so how do you plan your trips around freshwater fish spawning activity? Sure, you can go with a general answer, such as spring or summer. However, to answer that question more specifically, you'll want to consider two important things.

First, you'll need to decide which freshwater fish species you want to target. Second, you'll have to determine where you want to fish.

Freshwater Fish Spawning Factors

While answering these two questions won't always give you the precise freshwater fish spawning times (this is Mother Nature we're talking about here), they will usually give you a pretty good idea. Keep in mind that extreme weather conditions or unusual environmental changes to a waterway can have an impact on fish spawning season from one year to the next.

Once you know what freshwater species you want to target and where you want to go, you can make an educated decision on when to plan your trip based on a few key factors.
  1. Water temperature: Fish spawning times will vary for different species and can also vary depending on the size and depth of a waterway. As an example, largemouth bass prefer water temperatures between 60-75 degrees for spawning, while bluegill spawn when water temperatures are in the 75-85-degree range.
  2. Size and depth of waterway: Keep in mind that not all areas of a large lake will reach the desired spawning temperature range in a uniform manner. This means that fish inhabiting different areas of a large lake may spawn at different times.
  3. Light: Spawning in some species can be triggered by changes in the day/night cycle. In the case of the largemouth bass, longer periods of daylight not only heat the water, but bass eggs need sunlight to hatch.
  4. Rainfall or current: An increase in rainfall can create additional current in a waterway, which can delay spawning activity. Stable water levels (along with stable water temperatures) are preferred.

The bottom line is this -- if you want to plan a spring freshwater fishing trip around fish spawning times, the most important factor to consider will be water temperature. If largemouth bass are your species of choice this spring, one of the best times to fish will be when water temperatures hold steady in the 60-75 degree range.

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.