Spring can offer some of the most exciting bass fishing an angler could hope for. But during the course of the spring season, bass behavior changes more drastically than any other time of year. This is because bass spawn in the spring, and during the spawning phase their feeding activity goes up and down like a rollercoaster.
Careful lure selection and technique adjustments are two essential measures an angler must take to be successful bass fishing in spring. As bass feeding activity changes, your strategy must change as well if you want to keep the bite going. So we are going to identify the best bass lures for spring during each phase of the season.
Spring Bass Fishing
Spring is the time of year when water temperatures and bass feeding activity are on the rise. Water temperature is one of the most important factors in determining bass behavior. Bass are a cold-blooded species, which means their body temperature remains the same as that of their environment.
The sweet spot temperature for optimal bass feeding activity is generally between high fifties and low seventies. Temperatures above eighty degrees tend to make bass less aggressive, and cause them to seek out cooler temps in deeper water.
What constitutes deep is relative to the overall depth of the body of water. Whether the deepest point is ten or thirty feet, bass will generally be found there during periods of extreme heat or extreme cold. This is because water temperature at the deepest point tends to be more stable.
Although deep water plays a role in spring activity, most of spring bass fishing will take place in the shallows where spawning takes place. And before you get excited about the warming water temps, it’s important to understand how the spawn cycle works.
The Spring Spawn Cycle
Because bass spawn in the spring, the season is divided into three phases, that together make up what is known as the spawn cycle:
- Post Spawn
Bass behave very differently during each phase, so your lure choice and technique will need to change over the course of the season. It’s important to note that the spawn cycle can occur at different times of any given year, as well as vary from lake to lake.
This is true even between lakes that are located near each other. For instance, a shallow lake usually warms quicker than a deeper one, causing the spawn cycle to begin sooner. For that reason, you should always be checking the water temperature during the spring so you know what phase of the spawn cycle bass are in.
Most bass anglers get the water temperature from their fish finders. If you don’t have one or it’s not in the budget, then using any thermometer will work fine. Water temperatures can fluctuate like crazy in the spring so don’t assume the temperature is the same day to day.
When bass enter the pre-spawn phase, it’s in conjunction with the rest of the body of water warming up after winter. As water temperatures climb up in to the high forties and mid-fifties range, bass begin slowly making their way towards the shallows. They are in search of food to restore energy that was depleted during the winter months.
It’s between this point and the spawn phase that bass fishing can be pretty active. When water temperatures are hovering in the mid-fifties you can expect bass to be feeding. They will be actively feeding, but not full throttle just yet, so you want to stick to slower moving lures. Here are the best lures for this time of year, as well as our suggestions.
If spring temperatures rise gradually then you can have a nice window of bass fishing in the pre-spawn, but if they increase rapidly bass will quickly go into spawn mode. However long the window is, you should take advantage of every minute because the bite changes dramatically when we enter the next phase: the spawn.
Water temperatures that reach the high fifties to mid-sixties generally signal the beginning of the spawning phase. For bass fishing, the action will slow down significantly.
During the spawn, male bass make rounded nests called beds. They form them with their tails in sand, clay, or gravel. Typically, they are located along the shoreline, in about two to five feet of water. The clearer the water, the deeper the beds are located. And vice versa, the murkier the water, the shallower the beds will be located.
When the bed is complete, the male bass with try to entice females into it. If successful, the female bass will enter and lays her eggs. Once the eggs have been laid the male fertilizes them.
At this point the bass stop feeding, and bass fishing activity slows down significantly. This “lockjaw” phase can last two to four weeks as the males will be guarding the eggs full time. While at the same time, female bass head to deep water to recover.
You can forget about the females during this period, but you can still catch the males. While guarding the beds, male bass will ferociously attack any natural predictors that come too close.
Sunfish, crayfish, and other species will be relentlessly trying to make a meal of the bass eggs. When in defense mode, the male bass are not attacking to feed but strictly to protect the eggs.
Catching males that are guarding nests is referred to as bed fishing. It’s when you make multiple casts at a bed in hopes of tricking the bass into thinking your lure is a natural predator looking to eat his eggs. This is best done with very small finesse lures like a finesse jig or finesse worm rigged with a weighted shaky head.
The problem is bass are on such a high alert during this phase that they will often identify lures as unnatural and ignore them. Bass fisherman will spend hours on a single bed in hopes of landing a big female.
Some argue that bed fishing is unethical, and bass should be left alone during the spawn to preserve their abundance. Anglers have been arguing the ethics of bed fishing for years. Luckily, with the post spawn phase just around the corner both sides will be at peace.
Post Spawn Phase
When the spawn phase is over and the baby bass are too big and active for the male to keep guarding them, the adult males will begin to abandon their beds and resume normal feeding behavior.
Once the females have recovered from spawning, they will move up to the shallows to feed as well. It’s about five to six weeks after the actual spawn that bass fishing begins to really pick up.
This is when bass fisherman can really unleash their full arsenal of lures. All lures are in play at this point, and you can focus more on conditions like time of day and cloud cover when choosing a lure.
Late spring and early summer is when a lake is at its peak in regards to bass fishing. Bass are in a feeding frenzy, so you do not want to miss this window of opportunity.
Especially since the action can begin to slow down as summer progresses. But with the right summer bass lures and techniques you can keep catching them right into the fall.