The “spawn” is another name for the mating process carried out by fish. In freshwater, most fish spawn in the spring, and during this time, anglers have the best chances of catching that particular species. Each species will spawn based on their preferred water temperature, and knowing when and where fish spawn is essential in making the most of your spring fishing.
Before the actual spawning cycle, fish go into a turbo-charged prespawn feeding state as they chow down before the actual lovemaking begins. Knowing when fish spawn and targeting them during their preferred spawning temperatures is among the easiest ways to catch a pile of fish during the spring.
General Spawning Notes:
- Not All Fish Spawn At Once – It happens in waves and can carry out over weeks or even months
- Moon Phases Help – When the temperatures line up with a full or new moon cycle, fish go into overdrive and start spawning heavily
- Late Day Show Ups – Cool mornings might push fish to deeper water, but warmer afternoons bring them lurking back to spawning spots
- Protect The Fish – While spawning fish are fun to catch, they’re also vulnerable, so it’s important to practice catch and release on trophy-sized fish and only harvest what you need.
Here’s a walk-thru for the general spawning temperatures for most of America’s premier freshwater gamefish:
When Do Northern Pike Spawn In The Spring?
- Preferred Spawning Temp: 40-50 degrees
- Where To Find Spawning Northern Pike: Shallow grassy bays, river backwaters, and stagnant coves
- What To Throw For During The Pike Spawn: Inline Spinners, Floating Jerkbaits, Large Soft Plastic Swimbaits
When Do Perch Spawn In The Spring?
- Preferred Spawning Temps: 44-54 degrees
- Perch are among the first spawners in the spring and are usually found among deep weeds, below dams in rivers, and closer to the shoreline than usual on the great lakes.
- What To Use During The Perch Spawn
- Fathead minnows, small swimbaits, micro drop shot rigs, and small blade baits
When Do Walleye Spawn In The Spring?
- Preferred Spawning Temps: 46-52 degrees
- Where To Find Spawning Walleye: Below dams in rivers, rocky shorelines on lakes, and the shallow grass lines of natural lakes
- What To Throw During The Walleye Spawn: Jig and minnow, blade baits, jigging raps, soft plastic grubs, and swimbaits
When Do Musky Spawn In The Spring?
- Preferred Spawning Temps: 50-60 degrees
- Where To Find Spawning Musky: Musky spawn along the shallow shorelines in rivers and will often seek out shallow waters. On lakes, musky spawn along with hardbottom areas in depth ranging from 8-12 feet
- What To Throw For Spawning Musky: Usually nothing. The musky spawn occurs during the closed season in most places, but in areas, you can musky fish during the spawn, swimbaits, bucktails, and bulldogs or medusas will get the job done.
When Do Smallmouth Bass Spawn In The Spring?
- Preferred Spawning Temps: 55-65 degrees
- Where To Find Spawning Smallmouth Bass: Hardbottom protected shorelines, below dams, in feeder creeks, near rocky or rubble
- Best Lures For The Smallmouth Bass Spawn Ned Rigs, Tubes, Jerkbaits, Small Swimbaits, Drop Shot, Craw patterned crankbaits.
When Do Crappie Spawn In The Spring?
- Preferred Spawning Temps: 58-65 degrees
- Where To Find Spawning Crappie: The crappie spawn is arguably the best time of the year for panfish anglers, fish are shallow holding tight to brush or vegetation and they’re usually willing to eat just about anything.
- Best Lures & Baits For The Crappie Spawn: Anything that can fit in their mouths. Little plastics, jigs, cranks, jerkbaits, and, most importantly, a bobber and float rig with a small soft plastic or live bait dangled just below.
Where Do Largemouth Bass Spawn In The Spring?
- Preferred Spawning Temps: 60-70 degrees
- Where To Find Spawning Largemouth: Largemouth spawn in shallow protected bays, in thick shallow cover, along shorelines with hard bottoms, near shallow areas with a cover like docks, reeds, brush piles, or metal pilings
- The Best Lure For The Largemouth Spawn Chatterbaits, Shallow Diving Crankbaits, Jigs, Texas Rigged Soft Plastics, Senkos
When Do Bluegill Spawn In The Spring?
- Preferred Spawning Temps: 70-80 degrees
- Where To Find Spawning Bluegill: Like the crappie, bluegill fishing during the spawn can be easy pickings and a boatload of fun. Look bluegill in the same areas where the largemouth bass spawned only a few weeks before. Often, bluegill build nests in the same places as a bass. The only difference is that their nest is the size of a dinner plate, while a bass bed is about as big as a hubcap.
- What To Use During The Bluegill Spawn Bobber and small jig paired with a micro plastic or livebait. Small crankbaits and flies are also killers for spring bluegill
When Do Catfish Spawn In The Spring?
- Preferred Spawning Temps: 70-80+ degrees
- Where To Find Spawning Catfish: Channel catfish are some of the latest spawners in the spring, and they’re known to be shallow and pushed up the rivers and creeks while they feed before they spawn.
- What To Use For Spawning Catfish: Stink bait, cut bait, concoctions of both, or other scented offerings will be the best bet. Don’t be surprised if you catch a catfish casting for bass in the spring; the hungry kitties will have no problem wolfing down a crankbait or jig.
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