Life Cycle of Spotted Bass
Spotted bass are originally a river bass, and prefer deep, clear, cool water. In the spring when water temperatures rise above 60 degrees, males will begin to migrate from staging areas into spawning areas. Unlike largemouth, which prefer large shallow flats for spawning, spotted bass prefer protected rocky or sandy banks on secondary points off the main lake. As where largemouth typically spawn in less than 6 ft of water, spots will make beds between 8 and 20 feet of water. As water temperatures continue to rise, males will fiercely guard their beds, and are easily caught with jig-head worms.
Sometime around the full moon when water temperatures reach 65-68°F, the females will move in and begin to select a mate. This time just before the actual spawn can be some of the best fishing of the year, as both males and big females are energetic and feeding aggressively in the shallows.
Although the actual spawn between a mating pair will only last 3-4 hours, the several days surrounding the spawn can be very tough fishing. Spawning fish do not feed, and they do not guard their nest; they only have one thing on their mind: each other. Females will deposit between 1000 and 30,000 eggs, with 5000 being average. After the spawn, fish are typically exhausted and feeding is slow.
However, males will continue to remain on the nest until the fry hatch, during which time they guard the nest against egg-snatchers such as bluegill, spottail minnows, crayfish, salamanders, and shad/herring. Once the fry hatch, they will remain close to their parent for several days, during which time growth is rapid as the new fry feed on zooplankton and small aquatic insects. As they reach ~1/2” in length, they will leave the protection of their parent and move into protected cover. For spotted bass fry, this does not necessarily mean shallow water. Spot fry can often be seen around boat docks and marinas that extend far from shore. As the fry grows, they will feed on larger insects, crustaceans, midge larvae, worms, and eventually small fish, frogs, eels, and larger crustaceans. Spots typically live 6-7 years, with some specimens living as long as 11 years being documented.
See also Range of Spotted Bass