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Ksam1234

Fish behavior, water temps , weather ??

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So I’m unsure if this answer and looking for expert advice from everyone. So I know bass go into pre spawn and spawn depending on water temps and a few other factors but what happens when it warms then gets cold again? Or extended periods of the same cold water. For example the water temp where I fish has been 46-49 degrees depending on the day and time on Lake Erie. Now this weekend the air temps are falling into 43 for the hi and 32 for the low with snow flurries. The 15 day forecast shows nothing but 50 degree days and 40 for nights with rain. Would the continuous cold stop them from moving up? Would this weather actually be ok and just extend the pre spawn time having the water stay colder longer? Would the fish just say screw it and go into spawn mode anyways and I Be out of luck with the horrible weather ? Could it mean a horrible spring ? Or when the weather finally gets warm and the water warms to the 55-59 degree they stay on the same cycle and just get crazier and eat more ?

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Great questions.  There are rules concerning when bass spawn.   I’m convinced that the bass I fish for have never read the rules.  

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Fish start moving shallow and scout nesting sites when water temps get into the 50s. The varying up and down temps in the pre spawn make for some of my favorite conditions to fish the pre spawn. I find that unless there is a prolonged unusually cold spell, they won't back up too much or at all. They often sulk on hard(ish) bottom at the first or second break from the spawning grounds. I like to slow roll a spinnerbait, or grind a square bill on them. They won't move far for a bait, but will bite eagerly things that pass by them. Fish the conditions and stay flexible. We are unfortunately done with that here. Most fish are hard on the nests and ignoring baits. But on the plus side, it will be popper time soon.

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Smallmouth bass spawn about 4 degrees lower water temps then LMB, around 58-62 for SMB and 62-67 for LMB on average at the depth water the bass are in...not surface temps. The warmer the water the shorter time the eggs need to hatch, colder the longer it takes eggs to hatch. 

Keep in mind not all the bass population is on the same cycle, usually you have early birds, the main spawn and later gators the last group and each group the females lay eggs in stages so lots of over lapping spawning going on. This tends to insure survival of the species.

Weather fronts are part of the spring transitions period that has gone on for centuries during the evolution of the the bass, they are resilient. The worst case scenario is the female doesn't lay eggs and either voids them or absorbs what hasn't been deposited.

Loss of a year class happens in extreme conditions, usually man made issues like dropping water levels in reseviors during the spawn cycle leaving the nest out of water.

The later gators in warm water over 70 degrees must fight off the swarms of egg eaters like bluegill or carp moving in to spawn. The early birds need to protect the bed sites longer, up to 14 days in water under 60 degrees. 

Tom

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1 hour ago, WRB said:

Smallmouth bass spawn about 4 degrees lower water temps then LMB, around 58-62 for SMB and 62-67 for LMB on average at the depth water the bass are in...not surface temps. The warmer the water the shorter time the eggs need to hatch, colder the longer it takes eggs to hatch. 

Keep in mind not all the bass population is on the same cycle, usually you have early birds, the main spawn and later gators the last group and each group the females lay eggs in stages so lots of over lapping spawning going on. This tends to insure survival of the species.

Weather fronts are part of the spring transitions period that has gone on for centuries during the evolution of the the bass, they are resilient. The worst case scenario is the female doesn't lay eggs and either voids them or absorbs what hasn't been deposited.

Loss of a year class happens in extreme conditions, usually man made issues like dropping water levels in reseviors during the spawn cycle leaving the nest out of water.

The later gators in warm water over 70 degrees must fight off the swarms of egg eaters like bluegill or carp moving in to spawn. The early birds need to protect the bed sites longer, up to 14 days in water under 60 degrees. 

Tom

So it sounds like the cold fronts aren’t to bad a thing then, and being on Lake Erie I think they are accustomed to this weather. I wasn’t sure if maybe they would just not spawn or if they would just continue comming in waves and wait for wster temps to rise. Currently they are 48.8. Today.. hopefully it starts hitting those 50 degree temps and really turn on 

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Everything in nature has an "internal clock". Of course weather conditions can extend or delay certain activities. But overall, things like spawn, migrations, and other annual occurrences will usually happen on time. We may not be able to notice because the weather may keep us off the water. Or sometimes these occurrences happen in fast-forward. You may notice a year or two down the road if a species had a bad spawn. Like Tom mentioned, you may miss a whole year-class of fish.

 

I've been fly fishing for trout my whole life. And when I lived up north, the Hendrickson hatch was the first prolific mayfly hatch of the year. We looked forward to it at the end of each April. But up there, April and May weather patterns are very unpredictable. An April with consistent seasonal temperatures would allow the hatch to happen right on time during the last week or so of the month, and the fishing would be epic! But more often, the weather would go hot and cold, which you are certainly familiar with. The hatch would still happen, but we wouldn't really observe it. The bugs would hatch and get blown away in the cold wind. Maybe on a fair and warm afternoon, they would hatch and drop their eggs on the water in the same day and then they'd disappear.

 

The spawns will still occur on time, or close to it. If conditions are not ideal, they may spawn, drop their eggs, and have to abandon their beds soon after. But have you ever noticed some fish on beds weeks after the spawn ended?? It seems there are always a wave of fish who spawn a little later in the season. This may be nature's way of ensuring the survival of the species. Deer do the same thing. The rut happens on time every year, whether it's cold or warm. And then 3-4 weeks later, you see a buck with his nose in a doe's back end. Your spawn will probably still happen on time. If the water isn't clean, or the wind keeps you off the lake, you won't ever know if it happened.

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Well

thabk you! That’s very good information @IgotWood so it’s safe to say I’ll just have to fish even in the horrible conditions. I did invest in a good rain suit this year so it looks like it will be getting some use. The forecast doesn’t show lots of wind just lots of weird temps and rain. Some days are 40 some days are 65 lol but that is just how New York is. 

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4 minutes ago, Ksam1234 said:

Well

thabk you! That’s very good information @IgotWood so it’s safe to say I’ll just have to fish even in the horrible conditions. I did invest in a good rain suit this year so it looks like it will be getting some use. The forecast doesn’t show lots of wind just lots of weird temps and rain. Some days are 40 some days are 65 lol but that is just how New York is. 

Yeah, I grew up in CT. Spring fishing is always a craps shoot between rain, temperatures, and snowmelt. I can't tell you how many times I've gone to the river for that hatch to find it high and muddy. Or it's 60 degrees all day, and when I get there late in the pm, it drops into the upper 40's and the hatch just doesn't happen. When it does happen, it's unreal! But if you weren't on the water for that 3 hour window, you'd never know it occurred.

 

Use the conditions to your advantage though. Last year our spawn was crap. High, muddy water for weeks. The spawn still happened on time, you just couldn't sight fish for them. I fished the areas where I KNOW the beds are. If you can't see the fish, the fish are likely not to see you. We caught plenty of spawners dragging t-rigs and glidebaits through the bedding flats.

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I am on a relatively small body of water and while the main window for SM spawn are the weeks around memorial day, I have seen it go on in some areas into July.  Different ares of the lake definitely go before others and the shallow warmer areas go first.  Got to love nature and as soon as you figure it out, your wrong

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21 minutes ago, NHBull said:

I am on a relatively small body of water and while the main window for SM spawn are the weeks around memorial day, I have seen it go on in some areas into July.  Different ares of the lake definitely go before others and the shallow warmer areas go first.  Got to love nature and as soon as you figure it out, your wrong

Yeah the smallmouth have been biting really good but the temps have been between 55-60 recently , air temps, but this weekend it was like 36 for the low and 42 for a high.. for 2 days straight and didn’t know if that would ruin the bite or something would happen @IgotWood

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