It’s here—the time that every bass angler waits all year for. Time to starting gearing up for, planning for, and taking full advantage of the annual bass spawn, when fish concentrate in the shallows to bulk up and start bedding. We know some of you are still ice-fishing. But big female largemouths are already moving onto spawning beds in parts of Florida as you read this, and they’ll be doing the same on your favorite lake before you know it. It’s only a matter of, well, time.

The question is when, exactly? The United States is a big place, with a wide range of climates, altitudes, types of waterways, weather patterns, and species of bass. The fish don’t move onto their beds nationwide at the sound of a buzzer or the turn of a calendar page. The bass spawn is a long and gradual process that starts as early as January in extreme southern regions and moves northward up the map in waves, extending well into July in the country’s northern-most states.

Man holds largemouth bass by the mouth on surface of water with lily pads
Big largemouths are already in the shallows on some lakes, ready to start spawning. Shaye Baker

So, when should you be out plying the shallows to hit the bass spawn at its peak in your area? To help us answer that question, we’ve gathered a group of expert bass anglers from Florida and Texas clear up into Canada to pick the best days of the bass spawn, from the bottom of the map to the top, so that you can schedule time off to fish around home or, even better, plan a bass fishing vacation (or two).

Open your calendar app, because below are the seven best days of the 2024 bass spawn. Mark these dates down now, and as each day approaches, look for in-depth articles on how to fish each day, with detailed tactics and lure recommendations from our pros to help you have your best bass-bedding season yet. Here we go.

Best Day of the Bass Spawn No. 1: March 1st

When it comes to understanding the timing of the spawn in the South, few anglers have it pegged like Bassmaster Elite Series pro Scott Martin, who hails from the southern shores of Florida’s Lake Okeechobee and has earned more than $3,000,000 in tournament winnings.

“Florida is different from a lot of other states,” Martin says. “The moon is not that important. The moon is really irrelevant here. The timing of the spawn in this part of the country is all about rising water temperatures and stable conditions.”

Pro bass angler Scott Martin reels in a big largemouth bass at the edge of his bass boat
Bassmaster Elite Series pro Scott Martin fights a nice largemouth on Florida’s Lake Okeechobee. Dalton Tumblin / Bassmaster

Due to the constant barrage of cold fronts in the South during the winter, the region’s primarily shallow-water fisheries lack the stability needed to level off their water temperatures in the 65- to 72-degree range that’s ideal for spawning there. That is, until mid-February. Right around Valentines Day is when the weather starts to stabilize, according to Martin. That’s when the days get a little longer, and the water begins to heat up and stay that way, goading bass to start roving into the shallow and move up onto beds.

On Okeechobee and a little to the north, Martin expects these stable conditions each year in mid-February, and suggests that anyone from the area reading this now needs to get on the water, as the action should still be really good. Moving a little farther north, Martin says the best action should be a couple weeks later. “The first of March should be just about right at Kissimmee, and the surrounding areas.”

Best Day of the Bass Spawn No. 2: March 22nd

An angler lips a nice largemouth bass at boatside
Expect the action in Texas to heat up a few days before March’s full moon. Shaye Baker

Texas angler Tyler Anderson has well over half a million subscribers and followers on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok—all under the handle of @TylersReelFishing. Anderson’s massive following has come by way of posting great fishing content, and lots of it. We picked his brain on the best day to fish the bass spawn in his neck of the woods.

“In north Dallas where I live, I think late March to early April is when we start to catch fish that are spawning. Most of our fish come from mostly dragging baits in dirtier water, so I’m not actually sight-fishing. But just based on seeing bloody tails and the fact that I’m catching them in 2 feet of water on hard bottom, makes me think they’re spawning.”

It’s safe to say that most of the spawning activity for those a little farther south of Dallas will come in that late March period. Though Anderson isn’t a big believer in the impact of the moon, he has learned over time that the biggest fish seem to spawn first.

“If anything, I’ve seen bigger fish come up before the full moon than actually on it. On the full moon, I’ve seen a lot more males on beds than I have females, and I’ve caught bigger ones beforehand. So, whenever that first full moon is in April, or the end of March, I would go a few days before that.” There’s a full moon on March 25 this year, so get on the water on the 22nd or 23rd.

Related: The Best Spring Bass Baits for 2024

Best Day of the Bass Spawn No. 3: April 1st

Circling back to Scott Martin, but moving a little further up the map from his home waters of South Florida, he believes the best day for the spawn on the St. Johns River all the way up to Lake Seminole on the Florida/Georgia line is around April 1st. Some bass may certainly spawn before then, but that this is when he predicts you’ll see the hottest spawning activity.

“As you go farther north, the fish are more conditioned to cold water. Optimal water temperature at, say, Lake Okeechobee, is 68 to 72 degrees. But if you go to Harris Chain, it might be 65 to 68. You get up to Seminole, it’s the same thing. Bass will move up onto beds at 64 to 65 at Seminole. And the farther north you go, the more northern strain bass you get, and the less temperamental they are.”

Along this push farther north is when Martin says the moon begins to effect the spawning process more. In the extreme south, bass can bed essentially from November all the way to May, as long as the weather conditions and water temperatures are suitable. But moving into Georgia and Alabama, all the stars have to align—or rather the moon, weather, and water temps.

Best Day of the Bass Spawn No. 4: April 23rd

An aerial view of bass beds and a fishing boat on the bottom of a shallow lake
Bass beds dot the bottom of a shallow flat on Lake Michigan. Ben Nowak

We caught up with veteran Bassmaster pro Mark Menendez—who is in his 34th season as a professional bass fisherman—to distill from his decades of experience wehn the right time is to go looking for spawners in his home state of Kentucky, as well as other states along its shared latitudinal line.

“It’s hard to pick one day, but if I had to I’d go with April 22nd or the day of that full moon, which is April 23rd, plus or minus a day or two. That will be about the right time when they all flood the bank.”

Menendez pionts out that the perfect spawning day can fluctuate across several days, depending on exactly where the water body your fishing is located. “It’ll be later in areas of higher elevation. At Beaver or a Grand Lake, for example, you’re at a thousand feet of elevation. That backs it up a little bit more, maybe as much as a week.”

Tennessean YouTube angler Alex Rudd agrees with Menendez that the 23rd is prime time for spawning activity in this region. According to Rudd, water temperature and moon phase are, again, among the most important factors.

“For smallmouths, they’ll start spawning at 55 degrees. So, they’ll spawn a little bit early. But largemouths, I’m looking for 57 to 60, into the mid 60s. When the pollen starts coming off the trees, the bass are spawning.”

Lake Michigan angler Ben Nowak hefts a big smallmouth bass while sitting in a boat
Nowak shows off a big Lake Michigan smallie. Ben Nowak

Moving well up the map, avid smallmouth angler and YouTuber Ben Nowak also picked the 23rd day of April for when things get started on the southern shores of Lake Michigan, as well as other Great Lakes waters.

“The largemouth may start around that April 23rd date in the more southerly parts of my region if the temperature is right, about 59 to 64. In general, though, the smallmouths tend to spawn a little earlier than the largemouth, when water temps are about 57 to 61.” The key is to be ready to fish right about that April 23rd full moon and keep a close eye on water temperatures at the same time.

Nowak looks for largemouths to spawn in less than 4 feet of water, with the smallmouth typically spawning in 3 to 8 feet, though some may go as deep as 25 feet, where the water is extremely clear.

Related: When Do Bass Spawn?

Best Day of the Bass Spawn No. 5: May 10th

Bassmaster angler Cody Huff hoists a pair a big smallmouth bass at a tournament.
Huff hoists a pair of big smallmouths. Bassmaster

Cody Huff of Missouri is one of the fastest-rising stars in professional bass fishing, excelling in the college ranks at Bethel University and now competing week in and week out on the Bassmaster Elite Series. Though Huff is known particularly for his prowess with forward-facing sonar, he’s also had a lot of experience fishing for spawners on Table Rock and Bull Shoals in Arkansas and Missouri.

“I lean towards kind of the May timeframe. I would say around May 10th. Seems to me like once water temperatures start staying in the 60s, and you get a few of those good 60-degree nights, things really start to change fast.”

With smallmouth, largemouth, and spotted bass swimming in many of these waters, the spawning windows of these different species overlap quite a bit, says Huff, and there have been plenty of times when he’s caught fish of all three species off beds on the same day. It’s worth noting as well that the higher elevations where Huff is used to fishing for spawners does push the best day of the spawn back a little bit for him, where it may come a week or two sooner for other anglers in this region at lower altitudes.

Best Day of the Bass Spawn No. 6: May 23rd

Circling back to Ben Nowak, he picked May 23rd as the day to go looking big spawners closer to his hometown of Midland, Michigan, and farther north. He starts around the bottom of this region and moves up, noting that, “You can follow the spawn like clockwork.

“That lower part of the region is going to start around May 23rd, and you can just follow it up the state into July. That’s pretty much true throughout the entire region. So New York is the same way, Minnesota, Wisconsin, etc.”

Best Day of the Bass Spawn No. 7: June 21st

An angler lands a nice largemouth bass at boatside from a patch of lily pads
The middle-of-June full moon should be prime time in the country’s northern-most regions. Shaye Baker

We caught up with 2023 Bassmaster Classic Champion Jeff Gustafson to discuss the extreme northern regions of the US and into his home country of Canada. “I would say that by June 10 to 15, stuff is going to start happening. Some of the big water will extend into July. But prime time—full-blown—is whenever that full moon is in mid-June.”

With the closest full moon this year coming a little late, on June 21st, look for the bass to be bursting at the seams to move onto beds at this time—both largemouths and smallmouths.

“It’s pretty similar. People think largemouth spawn first, but I think they maybe show up first just because the areas where they spawn are shallower, and they’re tucked away a little bit more. I would be ready to target both species at the same time.”

Nailing the Perfect Timing for Your Lake

Almost no matter where you fish, our pros recommendations won’t be far off and will nail it for a lot of you. But what if your favorite lake straddles the areas covered above, or is just a little faster or slower to warm up compared to similar waters? No problem. Just take our pros dates as a starting point, then keep close tabs on water temperatures and the moon.

Here are a few broad-stroke keys that will hold true across the whole map: Pay attention to when the nightly low air temperature hovers in the 60s, look for water temps in the mid- to upper-50s, and pay attention to the timing of the full moon when these other two criteria are steady. If you are on the lookout for this combination, you’ll be ready when the time comes to go out and enjoy the best days of the bass spawn near you.

Read Next: 10 Tips for Catching Spawning Bass