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@Paul Roberts good idea to change lanes. Thanks! repost/copied:

 

I’m unclear on what the females are doing during the spawn (when they’re not courting and laying eggs).

 

 If they continue to spawn with new partners, are they still circling back to guard all their broods? Is there a specific brood they guard more than others in your observations or during a certain developmental stage perhaps? Do they seem to even know which fry are theirs or just guard the ‘zone’ as a kind of team effort? And are they feeding while males guard?

 

I don’t know if anyone has the answers to all of that, but any insights you have are much appreciated!!

 

thanks a ton!

-Josh

 

Just a note for all

*A bass behavior forum subject or megathread might be good 

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Normally, once females spawn they head out to feed and recuperate.  The males stay behind to guard the nest.  That's why you catch the big girls easier during the spawn, it's one of the few times they are very predictable and if you know the routes they take to spawning grounds you can catch them both pre-spawn and post-spawn.   And.....not to start another ethics debate but you can also catch them on the beds/nest.  

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First, as TOXIC mentions, it's the males that guard the nest, eggs, and fry. Females are courted, lay eggs, and move on. This takes ~2 to 3 days from what I've seen. Females are known to continue to spawn though, with other males over the course of the season. During this spawning window -which can be months in the south, and a couple of weeks in the north- the females remain "shallow", cruising for more spawning opportunities, and holding at prominant cover pieces.

 

Also, as TOXIC mentions, females are catchable; They appear to be willing to feed. But I've found that slower -often vertical- presentations work best. The females are now expending the energy that they gained since fall and seem to be conservative in their hunting activity. This will change as they strengthen through post-spawn.

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Interesting. There’s a lot of (mis)information out there. I’ve heard many people suggest females will stand post out side the bedding perimeter and come in to help guard from time to time. I guess reality is they’re just feeding. 

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The male makes and does guard his own bed, but you can bed fish for the female too. One female will spawn in multiple beds in one season (I think that's nature's way to spread out the genes) but only in one bed at a time. I'm no biologist, and obviously bass all look almost the same (in the water); but that's what it seems like from what I've observed (firsthand).

 

I don't bedfish a lot- primarily because I haven't been able to find a potential new PB on a bed. I still practice on 4-5# fish a few times every spring.

 

The trick (one of the tricks anyway) to bedfish for the female is to show her that the male isn't doing his job. This is assuming the female is attached (well enough) to the bed to protect it. Then there's the matter of finding the right spot, and the right angle.

Neither bass is trying to eat your bait off the bed; they're just trying to remove it off the bed. I've seen females attached to a particular bed for upto a week; but usually it's only a few days. Not all bedfish are catchable, in the early stages, and especially right before she's about to drop the eggs. (But otherwise, most are. It might take half a day though.) After the egg-laying's done, she moves out; and the male takes care of the eggs and then the fry from his bed.

 

I guess the females do feed in between releasing eggs in different beds. Can't confirm one way or the other.

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Florida Largemouths (floridanus) females have been reported to do some bed guarding. The closest I've seen I n terms of female aggression  were a group of females competing for a male in a pond with few available males.

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Paul, I'm not trying to offend you; but I assure you I've caught plenty of northern strain largemouth females (bigger to much bigger of the two) from beds. I've also watched them pick up my bait off the bed and deposit it away from the bed (on those occasions I didn't set the hook either because she didn't have the hook inside her mouth, or because I was just practising my bed fishing skills). Also seen both male and female chase away other fish (sometimes egg-eaters, sometimes not)...

 

I will concede it is a lot harder to catch the female usually. If the male is doing his job, she usually just hangs out in deeper water.

 

I have seen two females attached to one bed several times over the years too. Can't say if they were more catchable though because of that fact.

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Very interesting answers 😉

 

One thing I would add is this spawn process happens over a period of time.

 

The female does not simply swim up to a nest, lay eggs, & swim off!

 

I've watched the same female on a nest for 3-4 days & yes she "guarded" the nest over that time frame.

 

 

FB_IMG_1487595936282.jpg

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18 hours ago, Joshua Vandamm said:

Interesting. There’s a lot of (mis)information out there.

So all that tackle under the tree isn't put there by a jolly, red clad, whiskered, rotund gentleman who circumnavigates the earth making billions of deliveries in one day?

please say it ain't so, I'm not done with my list...

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7 hours ago, reason said:

So all that tackle under the tree isn't put there by a jolly, red clad, whiskered, rotund gentleman who circumnavigates the earth making billions of deliveries in one day?

Amazon?? :lol:

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9 hours ago, reason said:

So all that tackle under the tree isn't put there by a jolly, red clad, whiskered, rotund gentleman who circumnavigates the earth making billions of deliveries in one day?

please say it ain't so, I'm not done with my list...

I took my nephew to a kids fishing derby once. There was enough tackle hanging from the trees to remind me of Christmas.

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After watching bass in the wild for decades it's my opinion the majority of largemouth bass go through the following spawning steps.

1. The females are the first to show up in the spawning areas, the males follow.

2. Females cruise potential spawning areas in small groups, I call these bass cruisers, they are transitioning from pre spawn to spawners.

3. Males move into the spawning areas and select a bed site and begin to sweep a small spot clean of bottom debris, then gard this site from other males.

4. Lone females return to the spawning area looking for s suitable nest site and mate.

5. The male tries to encourage the females to his best site, this is the courting period. The male nips at the female and she either moves off or sticks around. The courting phase takes a few days with the male near the bed and female close by, both are  now guarding the nest site and chasing away all intruders.

6. The pair move onto the bed and female laying eggs, the male fertilizing them, lots of aggressive movements by the female following on it's side and kicking the tail that increases the bed size.

7. Both bass now are in or near the bed site until the female is through laying that batch of eggs. 

8. The female moves off to deeper water to rest, the male stay with the eggs until they hatch chasing away all intruders including other female bass.

9. The female is resting and recovers to lay another batch of eggs at a different bed site, transitioning to post spawn.

10. The make guards the until the eggs hatch* and stays with the fry until something triggers the male to attack and eat some fry, then moves off.

Tom

* it takes between 3 to 10 days for eggs to hatch depending on water temperature, the warmer the faster they hatch.

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22 hours ago, Paul Roberts said:

Florida Largemouths (floridanus) females have been reported to do some bed guarding. The closest I've seen I n terms of female aggression  were a group of females competing for a male in a pond with few available males.

 

There's several bars in this region like that.

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13 hours ago, WRB said:

 

8. The female moves off to deeper water to rest, the male stay with the eggs until they hatch chasing away all intruders including other female bass.

9. The female is resting and recovers to lay another batch of eggs at a different bed site, transitioning to post spawn.

These are only parts I'm interested and would like to know more. How close to spawning site would female move to? Are they only stay put or hunt for food? Cover or deeper water?

I have seen a lot of spawning staging this year. I did not say I'm an expert just more of observation this year. I saw a lot like @WRBdescribed. I saw all, lone male bass making bed, male guarding bass alone.

Yesterday I went out with 2 rods, one hudd and the other glide bait. At my usual spot I saw male and female bass guarding bed less than 5 feet from me. I didn't see these two last Sunday, they must be in early stage of laying eggs. I did not try to catch them but I did swim two of my lures pass their bed to see how they reacted, the male would be the one that come to get a closer look on the lure first almost every time. It was so cool, I standed their for almost an hour and the male was the only one stayed right in front of me with his red eyes. I did get a follower on glide bait from out of sight bed, don't know male or female but he/she stay for almost 5 mins with the two right in front of me. He/she even nipped at my lure once. All of three bass I saw are in 2-3 lb with the red eyes male being the smallest.

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On ‎3‎/‎12‎/‎2018 at 11:00 AM, Paul Roberts said:

First, as TOXIC mentions, it's the males that guard the nest, eggs, and fry. Females are courted, lay eggs, and move on. This takes ~2 to 3 days from what I've seen. Females are known to continue to spawn though, with other males over the course of the season. During this spawning window -which can be months in the south, and a couple of weeks in the north- the females remain "shallow", cruising for more spawning opportunities, and holding at prominant cover pieces.

 

Also, as TOXIC mentions, females are catchable; They appear to be willing to feed. But I've found that slower -often vertical- presentations work best. The females are now expending the energy that they gained since fall and seem to be conservative in their hunting activity. This will change as they strengthen through post-spawn.

X2.

 

I have seen a large female taking it easy by resting in the sun next to a pier on Lake Gaston after she spawned. She was not interested in anything we offered.

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3 hours ago, JustJames said:

These are only parts I'm interested and would like to know more. How close to spawning site would female move to? Are they only stay put or hunt for food? Cover or deeper water?

 

In my experience the female will usually drop back to the closest breakline, this is also the route she'll use to the next nest.

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On 3/12/2018 at 6:20 PM, deep said:

Paul, I'm not trying to offend you; but I assure you I've caught plenty of northern strain largemouth females (bigger to much bigger of the two) from beds. I've also watched them pick up my bait off the bed and deposit it away from the bed (on those occasions I didn't set the hook either because she didn't have the hook inside her mouth, or because I was just practising my bed fishing skills). Also seen both male and female chase away other fish (sometimes egg-eaters, sometimes not)...

 

I will concede it is a lot harder to catch the female usually. If the male is doing his job, she usually just hangs out in deeper water.

 

I have seen two females attached to one bed several times over the years too. Can't say if they were more catchable though because of that fact.

Not offended in any way. I too have caught females off beds. (Was once the only way I knew to catch the largest bass in a water body.) I was describing the wider roles that males and females take. Both sexes will grab or move things from the bed or immediate vicinity. But these are in-their-faces objects. I have, so far, not seen females take on the role the male does. When they are at bed sites they are pretty much preoccupied with spawning or resting between bouts ("Classic Pose" I've mentioned before, is what this looks like when females are affixed to a given male and bed.) Their energy is way ramped down compared to the male and it appears that smaller fishes -would be nest robbers- easily avoid them and, so far, I've seen little aggression in females in terms of "guarding". In fact, to catch them, the bait has to be slow and in their faces pretty much. As if you have to get their attention first, and then trigger them. Males are MUCH easier to trigger. So... do females "guard"? Could be the answer lies in who it is that's knocking on their door -would be egg stealers, or fisherman.

On 3/13/2018 at 3:09 PM, WRB said:

...

8. The female moves off to deeper water to rest, the male stay with the eggs until they hatch chasing away all intruders including other female bass.

9. The female is resting and recovers to lay another batch of eggs at a different bed site, transitioning to post spawn.

On 3/14/2018 at 5:06 AM, JustJames said:

These are only parts I'm interested and would like to know more. How close to spawning site would female move to? Are they only stay put or hunt for food? Cover or deeper water?

I have seen a lot of spawning staging this year. I did not say I'm an expert just more of observation this year. I saw a lot like @WRBdescribed. I saw all, lone male bass making bed, male guarding bass alone.

Yesterday I went out with 2 rods, one hudd and the other glide bait. At my usual spot I saw male and female bass guarding bed less than 5 feet from me. I didn't see these two last Sunday, they must be in early stage of laying eggs. I did not try to catch them but I did swim two of my lures pass their bed to see how they reacted, the male would be the one that come to get a closer look on the lure first almost every time. It was so cool, I standed their for almost an hour and the male was the only one stayed right in front of me with his red eyes. I did get a follower on glide bait from out of sight bed, don't know male or female but he/she stay for almost 5 mins with the two right in front of me. He/she even nipped at my lure once. All of three bass I saw are in 2-3 lb with the red eyes male being the smallest.

I do not know how far females will move between different spawning beds. But where I've done most of my observations -in small waters- I've watched females cruising the entire shorelines of 3 to 5 acre ponds, looking for willing males with beds. That's a pretty good linear distance.

 

In general, bass don't like to be exposed -seen from the air. The spawn is the exception. But females are not always -even usually- as visible as the males. After a spawning bout with a currently chosen male, they commonly hold just outside the bed site, suspended over deeper water. Compared to the males they appear "cautious" of shallow coverless water where the beds are often located. Courtship appears to be, in part, coaxing females into such shallow water.

 

After completing spawning with a given male, what they do is just speculation on my part. They generally disappear from sight. I assume they are resting, and feeding some, as their next batch of eggs mature. I generally catch them -on slow often more vertical presentation- still shallow but out of sight related to prominant objects. In my small waters, "the first drop off" is pretty close at hand.

 

I do not believe they drop terribly deep, likely they do not move all the way back out of arms or coves. Instead they most likely shrink back into holes, pockets, and prominant objects. I would not doubt however, that there are more transient wider ranging females that might travel even farther in larger waters, if spawning options are more sparse. In nature, What works... works. What "works" is the sum of "experiments" that tend to cluster around certain behaviors. These over (a lot of) time may solidify into... more "hard-wired" behaviors. Species are made up of populations, that are made up of sub-populations, that are made up individuals. Nature does the culling and sorting.

 

Quote

10. The make guards the until the eggs hatch* and stays with the fry until something triggers the male to attack and eat some fry, then moves off.

Irritability? :) (For all us parents with teenagers out there).

 

So far, I just haven't seen this. It's common lore, but... I've become a bit skeptical. I say this not only bc I haven't seen it, but bc bass fry at the time of separation are too small for mature bass to eat with any efficiency. Juvenile bass prey on them a lot. Mature bass seem to get interested in them later on, when the now fingerlings break 3+inches. Not saying this doesn't happen. Possibly in waters with higher growth rates of fry/fingerlings, this can happen? Curious, have you seen this Tom? Thanks.

 

OK... I'm going fishing. Just broke into full "pre-spawn" here (sorry @A-Jay -feelin' for ya buddy) and I've got to get in there. :cheer:/:ph34r:

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Yes at Big Besr lake with a northern largemouth bass population. Big Bear is unusual micro climate that get very cold and the lake freezes over like northern lakes.  Big Bear lake the bass don't tend to spawn in cycles, instead a mass spawning movement occurs. 1 week no beds, next week beds everywhere so it's easy to observe their activity. 

The males guards the eggs and fry after they hatch while the fry stay around the nest. What happens is the fry school starts to leave the nest and the male follows trying to keep them togther. You see a flash the fry scatter and the male is gone.

I believe Glen Lau*  filmed this attack in his first Big Mouth film.

Florida LMB transplanted in California lakes seem to be more multiple bed spawners and multiple waves then northern strain. The big giant females tend to return and spawn in the same areas, making them volnerable to bed anglers.

Tom

* wow, what a memory, thanks Catt

 

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Glen Lau Tom 😉

 

@Paul Roberts I haven't seen this either but Clarence Bowling head biologist for Texas Parks & Wildlife says there's documented evidence, it is however a rarity.

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I saw two 4- 5 pound bass guarding fry in a shallowish creek channel beyond a culvert at stonewall in WV, last mid April. I assumed they were female before I knew more about the spawn. They were both right at the bank with their young, in less than 10 inches of water. They wouldn't look at a bait, and only darted off for a second when I walked by, but would return very quickly after I'd taken a few steps. I thought for sure they were female.. ahh I don't know anything, haha. 

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8 hours ago, Paul Roberts said:
Quote

10. The make guards the until the eggs hatch* and stays with the fry until something triggers the male to attack and eat some fry, then moves off.

Irritability? :) (For all us parents with teenagers out there).

 

So far, I just haven't seen this. It's common lore, but... I've become a bit skeptical. I say this not only bc I haven't seen it, but bc bass fry at the time of separation are too small for mature bass to eat with any efficiency. Juvenile bass prey on them a lot. Mature bass seem to get interested in them later on, when the now fingerlings break 3+inches. Not saying this doesn't happen. Possibly in waters with higher growth rates of fry/fingerlings, this can happen? Curious, have you seen this Tom? Thanks

Just theorizing, but perhaps this is a frustrated males last ditch attempt to Coral wandering fry. Some other species of fish are mouth brooders. They carry the fry in their mouth as they mature. Perhaps they aren’t actually eating them. Just grabbing hold...no hands...

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In my lake the bass often bed right off my bank.( as they are right now ) I watch them every year. I always see the small males first as the beds become visible. Without a doubt, they are locked in and sometimes wont even swim off when I get close. These little bucks are very aggressive and will attack most anything you throw. I dont see the big females on the nests very often in the daytime at my lake ( although I often see them at other spots )  They are around though, as I catch them in the bedding areas, For some reason , I seem to do best on the big girls in the middle of the day, or right at nightfall.

One thing I used to do was catch the male and keep him in the livewell while fishing for the female. It seemed like that made catching the female easier. 

Today there were two bass of equal size hanging together at one of the beds. One was the fair sized male that had been guarding the nest for awhile.

The next full moon should signal the last major bedding activity here until next year...

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17 hours ago, Joshua Vandamm said:

Just theorizing, but perhaps this is a frustrated males last ditch attempt to Coral wandering fry. Some other species of fish are mouth brooders. They carry the fry in their mouth as they mature. Perhaps they aren’t actually eating them. Just grabbing hold...no hands...

Things could be different elsewhere. But this is how it appears to work here:

 

Males do not corral fry, although it may look like that. Early fry stay together and relate to each other as a swarm -that's pretty much what keeps them together. The male centers his guarding activity around the swarm, making looping turns as he defends them and the immediate vicinity. You can see this behavior in my Spawn Behavior documentary.

 

As fry mature into young fingerlings (and rapidly), they become stronger swimmers and venture further afield. Although these "early fingerlings" relate to the male (will follow his mass here and there, when he happens to be close enough) they relate more to each other and, more and more, to their environment. They have developed the ability to react with alarm to larger, esp rapidly moving, objects and they commonly spook en masse (flash) if the male appears quickly, or turns quickly. Their reactions to the male's presence can be polar -they spooking at a quick turn of his tail, and then a moment later follow him a short ways. He tends to leave them in the dust though as he's so much faster and has a wider scope, being involved in keeping the vicinity clear of threats.  

 

What appears to happen is that the young bass (at the "early fingerling" stage) leave the male, not vice-versa. They split up into smaller shoals, and many will aggregate at key locations. Cannibalism is frequent so size grouping begins to appear.

 

My next documentary -in process- is on development from swim-up fry to adulthood. Speaking of that... I've got to get to work. Got ~30 hours of video (2 days, 4 cameras worth) to make into something meaningful and, hopefully, entertaining.

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@Paul Roberts couldn't have worded it better 😉

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6 hours ago, Paul Roberts said:

Things could be different elsewhere. But this is how it appears to work here:

 

Males do not corral fry, although it may look like that. Early fry stay together and relate to each other as a swarm -that's pretty much what keeps them together. The male centers his guarding activity around the swarm, making looping turns as he defends them and the immediate vicinity. You can see this behavior in my Spawn Behavior documentary.

 

As fry mature into young fingerlings (and rapidly), they become stronger swimmers and venture further afield. Although these "early fingerlings" relate to the male (will follow his mass here and there, when he happens to be close enough) they relate more to each other and, more and more, to their environment. They have developed the ability to react with alarm to larger, esp rapidly moving, objects and they commonly spook en masse (flash) if the male appears quickly, or turns quickly. Their reactions to the male's presence can be polar -they spooking at a quick turn of his tail, and then a moment later follow him a short ways. He tends to leave them in the dust though as he's so much faster and has a wider scope, being involved in keeping the vicinity clear of threats.  

 

What appears to happen is that the young bass (at the "early fingerling" stage) leave the male, not vice-versa. They split up into smaller shoals, and many will aggregate at key locations. Cannibalism is frequent so size grouping begins to appear.

 

My next documentary -in process- is on development from swim-up fry to adulthood. Speaking of that... I've got to get to work. Got ~30 hours of video (2 days, 4 cameras worth) to make into something meaningful and, hopefully, entertaining.

Thanks! 

Looking forward to the new videos!! I’m especially curious to see at what point they’re most susceptible to cannibalism by larger bass. 

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