Geez, Louise. He about ripped that out of my arm. Wow, that was a hard hit. That fish wanted it. That was a vicious strike right there. He just took it. It's not a very big fish, but boy, he hammered it like a 5-pounder. He's got it way in his mouth. There we go. I'm having fun. This is awesome, guys. Oh, man.
Hey, folks. Glenn May here with BassResource.com, and today I wanna talk about the seasonal patterns of largemouth bass. If you've been fishing for a little while now, you've probably figured out that yeah, the different seasons affect the behavior of the fish, where they're gonna be, what their disposition is, and how often they feed. So, it's more than just winter, spring, fall, summer kind of thing, though, it's you have to break it down into many seasons for the most part, but the easiest one is winter. So, let's start off with winter.
With winter, this is obviously the coldest time of the year. What happens is that the lower levels of the lake tend to be warmer than the shallower parts, so the bass tend to congregate down there. This is because a bass's metabolism is powered by, or dictated by the water temperature. Okay. They're a warm-water fish, so the colder the water is, the slower the metabolism is. Doesn't necessarily mean the slower the fish is, but it means that they eat less often. So, whereas in the wintertime they may eat once every 7 to 10 days, in the summertime, they'll actually eat 7 to 10 times per day. So, it's a huge difference, just a big swing.
So, in the wintertime, there's just not as many fish feeding when you go out to fish. So, just understand that. There's less fish that are gonna be interested in your offering. Coupled with that is the baitfish. They move into deeper water because it's oxygen-rich, the temperature is more stable, they aren't as affected as much by the fronts coming through. But also, if your lake has shad or that type of baitfish that they're affected when the water gets into the mid-40s, they start to die off. And as it gets even colder, there'll be a big die-off. So, these baitfish are seeking out the warmest part of the lake that they can find and that's gonna concentrate them, that's where the bass are gonna be. So, in the wintertime, you're gonna find them deep. Deep is relative to your lake, but typically, deep is anywhere deeper than 20 feet deep. And they're gonna hang on structure like points and ridges and humps and drop-offs and river channels and that sort of thing where there's a change in contour bottom. That's typically where they're gonna load up on. If you can find baitfish nearby, that's where the bass are gonna be.
Now, as we move into spring, spring is all about the spawn. That's when bass spawn. So, spring can be broken into really three main sections, pre-spawn, spawn, and post-spawn.
In the pre-spawn, this is when the water temperatures begin to warm up, the days get longer, the sun gets overhead, and the bass will start moving up shallower, gradually. So, from the deep parts that they were in the wintertime, they're gonna end up being within less than 5 feet deep or so when it comes spawn time. So, they take what I consider a bus route from that deep to shallow and they have little bus stops along the way that's progressively shallower as they make their way up to shallow water over time.
So, those are gonna be, first of all, main lake points and then eventually, secondary points. They're gonna be steep banks, drop-offs, humps, those creek channels that go to the back of bays. Those are the places where they're gonna be migrating. And though as the water warms up, of course, the metabolism increases and so they're gonna start to feed more aggressively, more and more often.
So, that's the fun part about spring. It's arguably one of the best times to catch bass because the majority of the population is up shallow, they're accessible, and they're active, they're actively feeding. So, it can be a real fun time to catch fish.
As you move into the spawn, bass will seek out protected coves, protected bays, back ends of creeks, for example. What I mean by protected, meaning that they're protected from the wind and from wakes and waves from all the boat traffic. So, something like that is what you wanna look for that still gets ample amount of sunlight because that's what they need in order to incubate and hatch those eggs.
Bass will seek out flat bottoms that are hard. Hard surfaces are what they prefer to spawn on. The males, what they'll do is they'll use their tail and they brush off all the sediment that's on the bottom of the lake to expose the hard bottom. In addition to finding hard bottoms, what the largemouth like to do is they like to make their nests that butts up against something. It's easier to protect and defend against when they do it that way.
So, look for nests to be against bridge pilings or against dock pilings, maybe against a rock or a boulder, they could be up against a laydown, sometimes there's breakwater or sea walls. They'll build up against that. Things like that because it makes it easier for the bass to defend his nest during the entire spawn.
So, you'll see these little patches where the nest is. It's about a dinner plate size or so, sometimes they're bigger, sometimes they're larger. Size of the nest has nothing to do with the size of the bass, I want you understand that. I've seen big bass with a little bitty teeny nest and little bass with a giant one. So, it's not relative to their actual size. But they'll brush all that off, and the color of that bed, it depends on the composition of the bottom of the lake. So, it could be a dark blotch, or could be a white one, or somewhere in between, but you'll notice them.
Bass tend to...largemouth bass, they don't really wanna build a nest that's in sight of another bass. That doesn't mean they're spread out all over the place, just as long as they're not in line of sight. So, there may be some bushes or shrubs in the way, some weeds, maybe there's a downed tree or log, some boulders and rocks, what have you. As long as they can't see each other, they're good to go. So, they may be in close proximity to each other.
Bass spawn on or about a full moon when the water temperature gets between 55 and 65 degrees. So, that's when we're talking about spawn time. Pre-spawn is anywhere from 45 to say 60. And we'll get into post-spawn, which is about from anywhere from 65 on up.
So, during the spawn though, again, the full moon comes out, that's when they spawn. This is when they're really not eating. The males are building beds, they're trying to court the females, the females are looking for beds to lay their eggs. They're not really interested in your offering, so you have to work them a little bit harder. But the female lays her eggs, the males fertilize them. And then three to five days later, depending on weather conditions, they hatch, and then the male guards the fry.
So, this is when we get into post-spawn. The females will move off a little bit deeper, usually the closest drop nearby, sometimes they go and suspend a little bit to recover from the spawn. The males are guarding a ball of fry. And usually, they herd those fry up into vegetation, whether emergent or submergent vegetation, something to protect them a little bit. And the males will still stay with them anywhere from a week to four weeks guarding them from predators. Again, they're not as interested in your offering at this time. So, it's a little hard. You'll see these bass and you'll be like, hey, but they're hard to catch. But they're there.
Here's the important part to remember, a couple of important parts to remember. One, first of all, is that a lake doesn't warm up all at the same time, it's not uniform. So, for example, if you're in a large reservoir, the further away from the dam you get, usually the shallower the water is, and that warms up quicker. So, the bass may be in pre-spawn and spawn mode there first before the rest of the lake. And maybe they go through a whole full moon cycle. The next full moon cycle will be closer to the dam when another wave of fish will spawn. So, if you're trying to catch some of these spawners or post-spawners and they're just not in the mood to bite, you can go somewhere else in the lake and you can find fish that are either still in pre-spawn or past the post-spawn stage. So, just keep that in mind.
Also, keep in mind that during this time when these fronts come through, early in the spring, your fronts are really strong and they progressively get weaker. But what that tends to do is it pushes the fish into an inactive mood and pushes them into vegetation in a nearby cover. The closer they are to the spawn, the less likely they are to take off into deep, deep water. They'll go nearby, maybe the next drop, maybe where there's a bunch of flooded bushes or timber or some thick vegetation nearby, they'll go into that and hang out for a day or two until conditions improve and then they'll come back out and start feeding again. So, if you find an area where there's a bunch of fish one day and a front comes through, well, they're not gonna be out roaming around as much. They'll probably be in the nearest drop-off or thickest cover you can find near that and see if you can find them there.
So, as they get through post-spawn then they get into this wonderful feeding frenzy, they decide, "Hey, I'm hungry. I'm gonna eat." So, they put on the feed bag and start feeding. And this can be a real fun time to throw topwater lures or any kind of fast-moving bait. It can be a real bonanza that lasts for a couple of weeks and then we get into the summertime.
This is when the water temperatures get above 65 into 70 degrees. And summer can be broken into, again, three seasons really. It's early summer, summer, of course, and then late summer. So, in early summer, there's this transition period from when the fish are up shallow and they're done spawning to where they're gonna be during the duration of the summer. And what happens is you get a good chunk of the population will go deep, not necessarily as deep as they were during the wintertime, but they'll make their way, again, down that bus route, all along those bus stops and towards deeper water. So, you can follow their migration path as they progress deeper and deeper. They're gonna settle down on humps and ridges and creek channels and points in deeper water, say anywhere from 15 to 30 feet deep on average. Your lake may vary just depending on overall depth of your lake, but that's just giving an approximate idea.
Now, there's another chunk of the population that remains shallow, and they'll go up and they hang out under docks. They go into any kind of cover that you can see, lily pads, reeds, they hang out on hydrilla and milfoil and cruise the shallows and feed on baitfish. They will sometimes go deeper when the front comes through or if the baitfish move or conditions change, they may move off and go deeper. And of course, the deep ones may sometimes come up a little bit shallower. So, you get this population that's now scattered.
And this is what we get all the time on our forums on bassresource.com is right after the spawn and after post-spawn, we get a bunch of people posting going, "What happened? Where are all the fish?" Okay. As I said before, you get the bulk of the population that's all shallow and readily accessible in the pre-spawn and spawn. Now, you're in the summer and they scatter. So, it's tougher to find them. So, just keep that in mind, this is what happens.
But as we move into summer, they set up camp. This is where they're gonna stay for most of the time, and they feed. All there on their mind now is eating. So, it's a good time to get out there and go fishing because like I said, the metabolism is at their highest now, they're gonna be feeding the most. And you can fish shallow or deep whatever you prefer. Keep in mind that the deeper fish aren't as affected by weather conditions and by boat traffic as the shallow ones are. So, if you get those conditions on your lake, you might wanna go a little bit deeper.
Another thing to keep in mind is during the summertime, low light conditions tend to produce best. So, that's early in the morning, late in the evening, and also in cloudy conditions, this is when the bass tend to roam more and they're more aggressive. They come up shallower and they feed more heavily. So, you can get them with more aggressive lures such as topwaters and spinnerbaits, crankbaits, that sort of thing. Doesn't mean you can't catch them when it's bright and sunny out, you can, but largemouth tend to...they bury up in the weeds and get up under the docks and get up under cover, any kind of flooded like branches of a tree that are hanging out over the water, they'll get up in that shady areas. They hang in those little hideouts waiting for baitfish to come by and they'll dart out and ambush them. So, usually in the bright summer, in bright sunshine like it is today, you got to go in after 'em and dig 'em out of that cover. But if it's cloudy or rainy, or that sort of thing, then it could be a bonanza. Just don your rain gear and go have fun.
As we progress to late summer, this is when the temperatures start to come back down, the fish will start to move up shallower and so will the baitfish. Especially if you have shad, baitfish will move up shallow and go on the back pockets and back bays. But even if you've got perch and bluegill and other types of baitfish, they tend to move up a little bit shallower and get a little aggressive getting ready for the winter. And this is when the bass start feeding a lot. Again, preparing for the winter as well. They need to get a lot of calories in 'em and stock up for the cold weather ahead. So, they get really hungry and they are feeding on baitfish.
This is crankbait time, guys. This is when you should be breaking out into your crankbaits. From your lipless crankbaits to your deep dive crankbaits and everything in between, this is the time to be throwing them because you're gonna catch a lot of them during the fall.
Fall is kind of fleeting, it happens really quick. Your fronts start to come through, the lake starts to fog up and cools off really quickly, and pretty soon you're into late fall, into early winter pattern. This is when those fish following those bus routes start making their way to those areas where they're gonna hang out during the wintertime. So, you have to progressively follow them out.
The key thing is when that starts to happen, that's when the weeds start to die off in the shallows. So, you need to follow where the green weeds are because when the weeds start to die off, they consume oxygen rather than produce it and the fish will vacate that area. So, that's a good indication for you is as you're fishing, look for those green weeds. If you're fishing in an area where weeds are dying off, move out and go a bit deeper water until you connect with greener weeds. And just keep on doing that as the fall progresses until now you get to winter, you're on the outside weed lines, you're into deeper water. And they end up back to those deepwater haunts that we talked about earlier. And that is the cycle.
That is, in a nutshell, how largemouth behave according to the seasons. I hope that helps. For more tips and tricks like this, visit BassResource.com.