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Bed Fishing For Spawning Bass

Spring Time Bed Fishing for Largemouth Bass- written by Austin Fishing Guide Tyler Torwick

If you ask any bass angler their favorite time of year to fish, I would be willing to bet a vast majority would say springtime. It’s that time of year where the weather gets warmer and the water temps finally start to rise. All winter long those bass have been out deep in the creek channels, suspending offshore and have been tough to catch. Once the water starts getting warmer those fish move up shallow to make beds in which to lay their eggs.

Let’s take a more in depth look at how to catch those bedding fish…

The Science Behind Spawning

First off, let's talk a little bit about how the bass behave once they have found a suitable place to make a bed. You are dealing with a wild animal but their behavior can be very predictable at times. Largemouth bass are very territorial and will become aggressive once they have eggs laid. Male bass, often referred to as the buck bass, typically do a lot of the work. It is very common to catch fish with bloody tails in the spring. The bass will use its tail to fan away debris and sediment in order to clear a clean patch on the bottom. This will show up as a light colored spot on an otherwise dirty bottom. Polarized glasses are an absolute must for this type of fishing.

Once the bass have found a place to make a bed and the conditions are right the female will move up on the bed and lay her eggs. At this point the male will fertilize them and guard the nest until the fry have hatched. It may be a few days of sitting on the bed before the female lays the eggs. Sometimes after laying them she will hang around for a while. Typically though once the deed is done the female will move away from the bed and leave it to the male to guard. This is why it is so common to catch the smaller male even when targeting those big females. This is one of the best times of the year for your shot at a personal best. While those females are full of eggs they are at their heaviest! Keep in mind you only have a small window once the fish spawn. Those females will not stay on their bed for very long once they have laid their eggs.

Another thing to remember is that fish spawn at different times during the spring depending on what part of the lake they call home. Populations of bass in different parts of the lake or even different parts of the same large cove will vary the time they spawn. Water temperature is the main factor in when fish spawn so keep in mind that shallow water, stained water, and the backs of creeks all warm up first. This is important to know, if you successfully catch bed fish in a certain part of the cove, you can often recreate this pattern elsewhere. Keep your eyes on the water temp gauge of your graph and note what temp you found when you found active beds. Something to note… river system lakes like Lake Travis don’t always behave this way. For example, the upper end of the lake past Pace Bend can be considerably warmer than the basin areas near Sometimes Island.

Where Do Bass Spawn?

Largemouth bass prefer shallow protected coves and flats to build their nests. Areas away from strong current, wind, and boat traffic are ideal places to look. Watching Bass Master I’m sure you have heard them refer to something called a “spawning flat.” So what is that? Well in certain lakes there are areas that set up with all the ideal conditions to hold multiple beds. Ideally you want an area with 6 feet or less of water. There are exceptions to this, Lake Travis for example is very very clear and I have found fish spawning in as deep as 15 feet of water. Let’s not worry about those bass though. The backs of coves and creeks will always hold bedding fish, but you will find that not all areas are created equal. Look for creek channels that have flats nearby with timber, rock, or some form of cover. Those creek channels act as a highway and make it easy for fish to move when ready to lay their eggs.

Structure can actually be a big factor in where fish spawn. Often times you will notice that their beds will be built next to a log, a stick, a lone rock, some brush, under a dock… the list goes on and on. I believe that they use this cover as additional protection for their nest. Bass eggs are like caviar to a myriad of fish. Bluegill and sunfish are notorious cradle robbers and will eat the eggs if left unattended. Crawfish are another enemy when it comes to spawning time… This brings us to what baits to throw.

What Baits To Use

When bass are actively guarding their beds they become easily agitated and very aggressive. There are a ton of baits that will catch them, but I would like to narrow it down and suggest a couple that work well for me.