When Do Bass Spawn in Ponds and How to Catch Them

When do Bass Spawn in Ponds Feature Image

Many bass anglers will search for bass in large lakes and the deeper water of reservoirs, but some of the best largemouth bass fish can be found in small ponds with a variety of water clarity.

In simple terms, bass can begin spawning in ponds in Southern USA as early as February, while in Northern USA it won’t start to happen until June.

Whether you have a stocked pond on your property, or you are fishing at a neighbor’s bass pond, this article will dive into the details of pond-based bass spawning seasons and the best ways to catch these fish.

Bass in Pond
Bass spawning in ponds typically occurs between mid-February and early June, when the water temperature reaches between 60-65°F. The exact timing can vary depending on local climate and environmental conditions.

When Do Bass Spawn in Ponds?

  • Northern Regions: From June
  • Southern Regions: From February

The pre-spawn season for bass living in ponds is less based on the exact months, and more based on the water temperature. Some anglers also believe the moon phases will determine the exact date of largemouth bass pre-spawn behavior starting and ending, but this has not been proven. 

While a full moon does affect the ocean tides, it has very little to no effect on the shallow water of ponds. In southern states, bass can start their spawning behavior in early to mid-February, with northern populations waiting until up to June when the water warms up enough.

Male bass won’t start their nesting behavior and spawning until the water temperature reaches 60 degrees Fahrenheit. In smaller ponds, this can happen sooner than it would in large lakes or reservoirs.

Smaller bodies of water will warm up quicker in the sun, so even if the bass are not spawning in a large lake nearby due to cooler water temperatures, chances are good the same bass population will be spawning in small ponds.

When trying to determine whether or not there is bass spawning activity in your nearby pond, there are a few things you can look for. The first would be the condition of the pond itself. Most bass love creating their nests in shallow water with rocky or sandy bottoms, so try to look for those before anything else.

You can also use sight fishing in order to look for surface agitation of the water above spawning grounds. When shallow bass are preparing for the spawning season, they will become much more active and aggressive. Female bass and male bass will both be ravenously attacking prey and fighting away intruders in their chosen nesting areas.

Is the Timing Different to Bass Spawning in Lakes?

Water temperatures will warm up in small ponds quicker than they will in large lakes and reservoirs. The smaller amount of water in ponds will warm up to bass spawning temperatures under the sun across a weekend, while it might take a large lake a week or more to reach the same bass spawn temperatures.

If you normally enjoy your bass fishing in a local lake, but notice it is too cold for spawning activity to start, consider checking the water temperature in smaller ponds nearby for early spring bass activity. Chances are good the water will be warm enough in these smaller bodies of water for spawning behavior to be starting.

Is It Legal to Target Spawning Bass in Ponds?

Bass in Pond 1
The legality of targeting spawning bass in ponds depends on local fishing regulations, and it’s best to check with local authorities for specific rules. Some states prohibit the harvest of bass during the spawning season, while others may allow it under certain conditions.

When bass are starting to spawn in shallow water or when they are guarding fry in the late spring or early summer months, they become highly active and aggressive making them easier to locate and catch.

Many anglers take advantage of this time of year in order to catch multiple good-sized adult bass right out of the spawning grounds. It’s not uncommon to hear anglers say the bass spawning season offers some of the best fishing outside of deep water regardless of the bait you are using.

In most areas, there are no laws against targeting spawning bass in a smaller pond. However, this is a somewhat controversial subject among bass fishing anglers and your specific location may have a strong stance on the subject overall.

Some independent research has shown that catching male bass during the spawning months can leave their nests unguarded long enough for bluegill and other egg-eating fish to invade and destroy the eggs.

In some other cases, anglers may become confused about exactly which species is being discussed when an angler talks about early spring bass fishing in general. Largemouth bass spawn will produce far more eggs than smallmouth bass spawn, for example, so catching a largemouth bass during the spawning season may be less detrimental than if you were to catch a smallmouth bass.

This can also depend on the general climate of the area in question. Bass populations in the north are somewhat smaller than bass populations in the south. This is due to the water temperature differences. Since bass in the south have a larger window of warm water to spawn in, they normally congregate in larger populations.

Before catching bass during the spawning or post-spawn months, always keep in mind the health of the bass population in your area. While the spawning areas of shallow bays are a good spot for catching big fish, you may also be risking the loss of the entire batch of eggs from that adult bass fish.

Where to Target Spawning Bass in a Pond

Once the water temperatures rise and reach roughly 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit, you will notice target bass start to show spawning activity whether it’s a full moon or not. They will move out of the deep water and into the shallow areas of the small pond in order to locate a suitable nesting ground to start the bass spawning process.

Anglers wanting to target spawning bass during this time should look for good shallow areas with a rocky or sandy bottom. You should also look for overhanging tree branches, bushes, or thick clusters of reeds and cattails along the bank since these are areas of cover bass will search out for their nesting areas.

Bass will leave their deeper water areas and actively search for these heavy-vegetation and high-cover areas near the shoreline in order to build their nests and defend their fertilized eggs and newly hatched fry in the spawning beds.

Best Ways to Catch Spawning Bass in Ponds

trophy bass 1
When fishing for spawning bass in early spring, simple gear and a variety of baits and lures can be used. The technique used may depend on the water conditions and the behavior of the fish.

When fishing for spawning bass in the early spring, it’s always best to keep your gear simple. You won’t need any highly advanced lures or rigs to get even the largest bass to strike, and most bass anglers can get away with even simple rods and basic reels for these large fish.

This makes the spawning season for bass a perfect time for new anglers and young children to toss a line in the water and get a reaction bite from these target bass and other bigger fish species.

The pre-spawn season is the best time to catch bass since they will start feeding heavily throughout the water column after the cold water starts to warm up.

Male bass defending the nest will readily bite at a variety of different baits and lures. Many anglers I have talked with stand behind their lipless crankbait or spinnerbait options when catching big bass, but chatterbaits and even soft plastics will normally do just fine in the early spring months and post-spawn season.

In some cases, you may notice bass are a bit slow to respond to your lipless crankbait during the post-spawn weeks and won’t be as willing to strike. If this is your experience, try moving to a finesse presentation or start using jigs to move slowly and steadily through the water in order to entice a bite from these bass.

If you find yourself searching for bass in stained water or outside of the spawning area, use a diving crankbait or a bladed jig. Both of these lures are great for faster-paced searching and can help locate groups of bass fish from the pre-spawn to post-spawn months.

On the other hand, if you are needing a slow presentation, swimbaits can be highly effective especially when rigged for an underspin to help them punch through heavy weeds and thick grasses. While these swimbaits are a bit bulkier than a finesse presentation, they can get some large female bass to strike reactively.

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Jeff Knapp is an expert fisherman, guide and outdoor writer whose work is widely published across a range of sites including Tackle Village. Jeff is based in Pennsylvania and loves exploring the waterways of that state in pursuit of smallmouth bass, largemouth, panfish and trout.
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