Largemouth bass are now completing their annual spawning and will begin their migration back to their post-spawn homes or locations. This post-spawn period that occurs right after the spawn can be a mixed bag for anglers targeting largemouth bass. Some years the bite can be almost nonexistent during this period.
Often when large numbers of largemouth bass spawn about the same time, angling can be downright difficult for 2-3 weeks after the spawn. There may be multiple reasons for what appears to be the nonexistent bite.
Once a female largemouth bass spawns she will move away from the spawning bed to a nearby location to rest before moving any further. If numerous females spawn at approximately the same time, you could hit that period when the females are resting and regaining energy from the stress of spawning. That translates into fewer bites from the resting females.
The resting phase that females go through could certainly reduce bites but likely another factor also plays into the equation. That factor is migration or movement of the largemouth bass after the spawn. I place largemouth bass into several groups depending on their movements after spawning. I created these categories from many years of my observations while fishing although some telemetry recent studies on largemouth bass support these conclusions.
You have the “stay put” largemouth bass that stay or live near the area where they spawn and may spend their entire lives close to that area. They find shallow water to their liking and may spend their days cruising between several docks within a few hundred yards of each other.
One year, I caught the same bass over three months on several occasions from the same brushpile. How did I know it was the same bass? The first time the bass struck my plastic worm the bass swallowed the hook so I cut my line leaving the hook in the largemouth’s throat before I released him. Each time I caught that bass after the initial time there was my hook, albeit somewhat rusted away.
You also have the true “movers” that migrate from some distance to and from the spawning areas. The only time these largemouth bass are in shallow water is during the spawn. They have specific migration routes that they follow and they may make several stops along the way as they move to and from the spawning areas. I believe most largemouth bass fall into this category.
But once they have moved away from the spawning beds, they spend the majority of their lives in open or deeper water but often in the same areas during their entire lifespan. These largemouth bass often group into large schools with other bass. I have some places where I fish that will be void of fish until about three weeks after the spawn and then boom that place has fish and this happens year after year. Once those fish are there, they pretty much stay put.
The last category of largemouth bass I call “wanderers”. These largemouth bass spend their entire lives just wandering around from place to place and can be found one day in shallow water, one day in deep water, one day under a dock, one day near rocks and one day in the grassbeds. The only time they are in a specific location is during the spawn when they are in shallow bedding areas.
Telemetry studies on largemouth bass have indicated that largemouth bass unlike their close relative the smallmouth bass do not move great distances. Studies have indicated that if a smallmouth bass is caught and then released some distance even miles away from where it was caught, the smallmouth bass will attempt to return to the place where it was caught.
Telemetry studies have shown that largemouth bass, on the other hand, tend to stay in the area where they are released regardless of where they were initially caught. That is a concern that has NOT been faced up to by a majority of the fishing tournaments that are held on area lakes.
Largemouth bass are caught all over the lake by tournament anglers and brought to a central weighing location and then released at the tournament site. Those largemouth bass do not return to where they are caught but stay in the general area where they are released. That might lead to greater mortality for those released fish if adequate food does not exist in the immediate area of their release.
What is an angler to do after the spawn when it seems that the largemouth bass have developed lockjaw? Anglers need to be flexible and try numerous depths, locations and use a variety of different lures. This is the period when largemouth are very much on the move so just chunking lures to those shallow water locations like you’ve done with success for the last month might not bring many bites. Good fishing and see you next week.