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Pre-Spawn & Spawn Bass Behavior

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Hi everyone, I'm new to bass fishing and heard this was a good place to learn, would like to understand pre-spawn and spawn behavior, if anyone could explain I would appreciate it! 

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Well, the spawn is something I haven't fished a lot. But I can share what I have learned from others.

During the pre-spawn, the fish generally move from deeper water or cover. We don't know how they get the signal to do this, but they do, pretty much simultaneously when the water tempatures are high enough. They start cruising around, looking for food, and trying to get fat. Think of it as a spring party after a long winter. Catching them during this time is typically rewarding, as the big females are more easily caught during this time than any other. Good ways to fish the pre-spawn: Burn the banks with a fluke, large senko, and particularly the two most Productive pre-spawn lures/techniques: the Rat'lTrap (any lipless will do fine) and a spinnerbait. Fish the 'Trap with a stop-and-go technique, and fish the spinnerbait just below the surface, with the blades just hitting the top of the water.

During the spawn, the fish are thinking of one thing: reproduction. The females will start rolling up against logs and stumps, the males will start building beds. After the fish have spawned, the females will lethargically move back into cover and deeper water, very tired. The males will start the long process of guarding the eggs, eventually the fry.

Productive spawn lures/techniques: When the fish are on the beds, craws and lizards do very well, dragged or hopped on the beds. The fish see them as a little fish or a crawdad trying to interfere with the bed or stealing the eggs. It takes a lot of patience to catch them like this, as often they'll pick up the bait and move it off of the bed instead of sucking it in altogether. Also, a topwater lure can be very effective, particularly a prop bait, minnow bait, popper, or wake bait. (The Kelly Jordan Prop Bait by Lucky Craft is made specifically for this purpose). This can get fun!

Have fun figuring out this time period. It's a very rewarding, yet challenging part of the fishing year.

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Definitions for reference

Prespawn: Bass moves from winter haunts to spawning grounds, usually in stages.

Spawn: Bass lay eggs on beds

Alright, so PreSpawn is like traveling a highway. Fish wil travel along structure to spawning grounds and stop along staging areas. They also begin to feed. In my area they feed mostly on Shad and some crawfish. To target these fish I search for them with a shallow flat sided Crankbait, jerkbait, and small swimbait on a 1/4 oz jig head. I then pick apart areas where I've found them with a small jig and chunk trailer. I want the jig to be compact, and not to have too much action. Once fish reach their spawning grounds they begin the spawn. They are bedding. They are focused more on spawning then feeding, and so you have to get at their protective instincts to catch them. A large flippin tube or lizard looks like it is invading their nest and poses a threat, so they will strike out of instinct.

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To add to the two above.  Let me say that pre-spawn occurs when the water temps reach up into the mid 50's to low 60's.  Once the waters hit somewhere around 62, (give or take a few degrees) the fish move up.  Normally the first fish to move up seem to be of the larger class(females).  The males start looking for hard bottom areas and timber so they can make a nest.  Now, all fish do not spawn at the same time, some spawn earlier, others later.

    Now during this time when the waters hit the mid 50's the fish do go on the feed.  Look for deeper water areas, creek beds, drop offs (could be as small as a 1-2ft ledge), these are area's the fish wil move up looking for an easy meal.  Like stated, spinnerbaits, cranks, jerkbaits, worms, a-rigs will all produce these stagged fish once you locate them.

   Now, for some strange reason the fish move up onto beds somewhere around the full moon phases and only stay for a short time.  They move in waves and fish may spawn in most areas of the country from early March to mid June.  Some just are late spawners.  Once they are up looking to spawn site fishing can be productive if you can get past the male who is much more aggressive then the female. If you get her fired up then you probably can catch her.  But it's hard to get past the male.  Jerkbaits, wakebaits, and plastics all work wonders as will a frog or swimbait.  Remember these fish aren't trying to eat, the just don't want it where they are.  Once the fish finish spawning, the males stay with the fry for a bit to guard them while the females return to deeper areas to regroup and feed.  If you see bluegill beds, these are great areas to target these fish as they feed up to regain their strengh. 

   Normally if there are fish on beds there are fish out past them as well in the pre-spawn mood if you can locate them.  During certain times you will have all three, pre-spawn, spawning, and post-spawn fish.  Don't just try and fish for the ones you can see, you will be missing a lot of fish just outside them that are willing to feed and can be caught much easier then the ones that have only spawning on their minds.   

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I like to break it into three chunks: early, mid, and late pre spawn. This is just stuff I have made up, but it continues to apply year after year.

Early is when they are just beginning to do away with the winter habits and a cold front could send them back into wintering, I usually do best with jerkbaits and squarebills during this time.

"Mid" is when I catch most of my fish, they will be holding on cover and I  almost solely pitch texas rigs at cover. It feels good to have fish eating plastics again! It's weird though because instead of setting the hook when they strike, I have to wait 5-10 seconds, otherwise I miss them or get baits back that are missing appendages.

Late is when a few males are on beds, but most bass are still cruising the shallows. I cast weightless finesse worms and senkos at these fish, usually the bigger females have developed lockjaw by now and have other things on the brain. It's a good time to scout new spots since you get to see most of the bigger fish in a body of water. 

 

Once they get locked on to beds I will mostly fish for other species until they go into post spawn mode. I don't like the idea of making 50 casts at a bedding female until she eats. Besides, grass carp respond well to dry flies during this time!

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Pre-spawn/spawn happens earlier than y'all think?

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Pre-spawn/spawn happens earlier than y'all think?

Prespawn and spawn are not dictated by specific time, but by water temp which we generally associate w/a time of year.

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Prespawn and spawn are not dictated by specific time, but by water temp which we generally associate w/a time of year.

While y'all are sitting around watching a thermometer the pre-spawn has started. The temperture ranges given for pre-spawn/spawn are surface tempertures; what is the temperture at 15-20'?

Pre-spawn does not start in shallow water!

As for the spawn one must consider the lenght of time required for the development of eggs.

Pre-spawn/spawn is far more than temperture!

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Hi everyone, I'm new to bass fishing and heard this was a good place to learn, would like to understand pre-spawn and spawn behavior, if anyone could explain I would appreciate it! 

Where you from ?

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More and more research support what Catt is saying.  Light penetration/ length of daylight has a profound effect on when fish actually spawn, more so than actual water temp. It is the sun's rays that are important to the development of the eggs. Similar to the interior of a car sitting in the sun, the exterior temp. can be much colder than the interior of the eggs.

Bass will begin their migration/ pre-spawn movements with a change of as little as +2-4degrees. This is the early pre-spawn mentioned in one of the responses.

Reguardless of what causes the movements and eventual spawn, what's important to the OP is the progression of those movements and the fact that they often reverse due to weather conditions.  There is a lot of back and forth movement between the shallows and depths until the beds are actually formed and even then, a severe cold front can push the fish deeper.

Often during these pre spawn movements fish will move shallower as the day progresses and often times become more active.  So if you're contacting fish in 15ft. of water on a jig early in the day and the bite dies after noon, look shallower with a more active presentation like a spinnerbait or square bill, or deeper with a C-rig if the weather turns nasty.

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Goto "Best Of" BassResource.com

Seasonal Tactics

Early prespawn techniques

That is one of many on BassResource ;)

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People don't search around here lol

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While y'all are sitting around watching a thermometer the pre-spawn has started. The temperture ranges given for pre-spawn/spawn are surface tempertures; what is the temperture at 15-20'?

Pre-spawn does not start in shallow water!

As for the spawn one must consider the lenght of time required for the development of eggs.

Pre-spawn/spawn is far more than temperture!

I will be fishing all through the winter regardless of when pre spawn is supposed to be. I stumble into it! The bass in late February and early march are definitely more active than the fish in December and January, even though temps are the same.

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Around here the window from pre-spawn to spawn is extremely tight. See, all of our water is 3-6 ft deep (entire lakes) so isolating bass movements are very hard considering there is no actual deep water. Our pre-spawna and spawn are actually more dictated by structure and cover than anything else. Pre spawn they gather onand around structure locations and spawn they isolate to spots of cover.

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I fish all times of the year, but this by far is my favorite. I don't believe it has much to do with water temp. I have caught some really big bass prespawn and spawn in cool water temps. In my opinion It has to deal with consistent, good weather lots of Sunshine and wind direction. Lots of sunshine over a 3-4 day period can cause fish to move up. The Pre spawn starts in deep water and as soon as weather as consistent I've seen Big Berthas move up. When weather gets bad they go back to deeper water. Sometimes I think if weather is bad for a while they will dump eggs in deeper water.

 

For example, several years ago the weather got really nice right before New Years. My dad and I both caught fish off beds days before New Years (9 and 10lbers). I think the fish can kind of go from prespawn to spawn mode over the coarse of a couple of months depending on weather. And I also believe the fish come in groups. Cause I have that the spawn was over and seen a fish in mid April on bed.

 

In my opinion there is nothing more fun that catching a big pig off the bed.

 

The since this past Saturday has been good here in central MS. My son and I caught 3 nice bass in deeper pre spawn water. 3 fish totaling 13.12. I'm going back Thursday evening the temp will be 71 and wind out of the west. I believe I will see and catch a good bass off the  bed then.

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