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Questions about the smallmouth spawn

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Reading the other thread got me thinking....


What is the behavior of the big females during the spawn?  How long do they stay on the beds?  Do they dump their eggs and leave?  Do bigger fish spawn deeper?  How long do males guard the bed?


The reasons I am asking is because I have spent a lot of time up north in the very clear water during the spawn.  These waters have lots of 4-6 lb smallies.  The biggest spawner on a bed I have ever caught was 18" maybe 19".  I can catch as many 16"ers as I want.  All of my 4-6 lb female smallies I have caught over the years were prespawn.  Overall, I am not that concerned since I know fishing for bedding fish hurts the fishery and I catch plenty of big fish otherwise but I am curious.  

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From wading I have seen the females stay with the males on the beds. I can't answer much more because they don't really have much depth choice in a wadable river. I see both males and females guarding the bed for at least a week or two.

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