The Changing Habits of Bedding Bass

April 11, 2020
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Largemouth bass' habits in crowded lakes have changed significantly over the past decade due to pressure, heavy rain, and increased current. Bass have a memory of locations that drive them to different areas, and their feeding habits have also changed. Fishing pressure, heavy rain, and increased current can change the ideal bottom structure for spawning, leading bass to move away from heavily fished areas. Fisherman must adjust to these changes to find suitable spawning areas.

As we approach the bedding time of the largemouth bass, I thought I would spend some time talking about the habits of bedding fish as I see them on todays crowded lakes. Make no mistake about it the habits of bass on today’s busy lakes is quite different than it was 10 years ago and maybe even fewer than that. Todays bass is much more pressured than ever before and finding what was once easy bedding locations is now difficult. You can’t go do as you have done for many years and go back to the same location and always find bedding fish.

The basics of bedding bass have changed considerably, we use to be able to bet on the fact that the bass would bed in many of the same locations year after year; today that is not necessarily true. Bass seem to have a memory of locations that drive them to different areas of the lake, as they might have been caught in areas before. The amount of feeding wildlife like birds from the pelicans to cormorants in certain areas of the lake also changes their habits. What was once a good bedding location has changed considerably for many reasons. Not only the bass fishing pressure but the enormous amount of rain we seem to get in the spring changes where the bass bed, because it causes much more current than we use to get in the pre-spawn era. The current changes the bottom, pulls out the structure and moves what was once the ideal bottom area for fish to spawn on. It moves around the silted-in areas, pulls bank rip rap off the edges and changes where the bass move to for their annual spawning ritual. The bottom is key to where bass locate, they seem to find similar bottom structure every year, but the location of that bottom structure can be miles away from where it was last year. This change forces you as a bass fisherman to adjust to the change the fish have made and find areas yards to miles away.

It is also obvious to me that the depth in which bass spawn can change drastically on a lake. To me, this is a direct result of fishing pressure. If you are used to fishing an area that is constantly being pressure by fisherman, I find that the bass move to depths that are away from the heavily fished areas for the spawn. This may only be depth of 4 to 5 ft. of depth, but it moves them off the banks where the fishing pressure is consistent. It’s always been a well known fact that bass like to spawn on hard bottom areas, many times that hard bottom can change, as one year it might be around stumps but the next year it might change to shell beds or Lilly-pad stems or clay banks. I’ve seen them change to under boat houses one year and the next year they can’t be found around them. Many times, the current alone changes the location of the spawning ground. I have seen where a piece of structure sitting on the bottom a hundred yards away from where the bass bed one year makes a big difference. That piece of structure moves the current in a different direction locating the bass differently and forcing them to move to be away from the current. It’s important to note that largemouth bass like to face into the current, so bedding fish can move from one side of a piece of structure to the other just based on the direction of the current.

Point being, change with the bass and examine different areas for spawning bass. What you have found in the past may be very different this year than last. Examine the key elements of spawning bass and consider these differences when you’re not getting bites in what was once a great spawning area. If your diligent, you will find the new bedding areas and be able to make better bass fishing decisions.

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