This time of year is when most Texas anglers flood the boat ramps and go searching for big bug eyed largemouth that are getting ready to spawn.
But, do we really understand what they are doing and why they are doing it? If knowledge is power, then you will want to read on. I have talked to several people at the Sharelunker program that have enlightened me to exactly what the spawn means.
When the water starts warming up as winter draws to a close, bass will feel the urge to spawn. This is typically when the water temperature reaches the high 50’s to high 60’s. Male bass will try and find a suitable are to build a nest. They will start fanning the area and getting it clean. A male bass will usually make a nest 2 times the length of his body. Then when it is complete, he will slowly circle the area waiting for Mrs. Right to join him at his nest.
Most male bass will eat very little if at all from the time they meet their mate until their offspring have grown up enough to swim off and be on their own. This doesn’t mean you can’t catch them, just that they are protecting the nest, not actively feeding.
When the female chooses the male she likes and the nest has been deemed suitable, the 2 bass will stick together until they dump their eggs and sperm.
The mating process will begin when the 2 bass swim side by side next to each other around the nest. They will simultaneously dump their eggs and sperm into the nest the male has made. Once the female is done spawning, she will usually leave the area, or possibly mate with a different male. There is little pillow talk between the male and female bass from start to finish, it is all business.
The male is now solely responsible for the eggs in the nest. When the eggs hatch, the young bass will usually stick around for 2-3 weeks to grow and learn what they can from their father. During this time they learn what they can and try to not get eaten by other fish!
How deep do bass spawn? It is dependent on the water clarity. Most places in Texas, bass will spawn in water from 1-6 foot. If the water visibility is very good, they may spawn slightly deeper. The warm sun is needed to keep the fertilized eggs incubated.
What role does the moon play in spawning? It has long been believed that on the first full moon when the water reaches the desired temperature there will be a huge wave of spawners pulling up to beds. After talking with these spawning experts, they believe this to be mostly accurate. It is not that ALL of the bass will move up to start spawning at this time, but a large number will seemingly overnight.
The spawn will usually last for a couple months on a typical Texas reservoir like Lake Fork, Toledo Bend, Sam Rayburn or Falcon. You can usually find bass in all phases of the spawn in the month of March. The further south you go, the warmer the water will be so the bass will be further along in the spawning cycle.
I hope this article has helped you gain some insight about the spawn and why the bass do what they do. In next week’s blog, I will go over some of my favorite techniques for catching bass off the beds.
G’ luck and tight lines Texas Nation.
Story by Shane Smith