When Do Fish Spawn & When Do They Eat?

when do fish spawn

Planning a fishing trip can be a challenging task, especially when you little to nothing about the fish or place you’re going to look for bites at. Luckily, fish have a spawn time every year where they are the most active and easy to catch.

This spawn time is where fish start to mate, so they start an eating frenzy just before that happens, and sometimes while it does.

So, if you want to have all the necessary information about different fish and their spawning times, then this article is for you by outdooris.

How To Know Fish Spawning Season

Factors That Make Fish Spawn

Before starting to tell you how and when different fish spawn and eat, it’s important to explain what different factors matter when looking for spawn times.

Here’s what you should know:

Fish Spawn

    • Water Temperature

Different species spawn in different temperatures. Some species like it hot (over 85ºF) others like it a little colder (60ºF) and so on. This has a lot to do with the season as well.

water temperature

Fish which like hot temperatures will probably prefer hottest seasons, such as summer. The same happens with fish that prefer cooler temps. But some of them can spawn at the same time as others, even in the same waterway.

    • Size & Depth of Waterway

Following the same trend of ideas as with temperature, the breadth and the depth of the water can change what fish and how many you can find accordingly.

Sometimes it is possible to find several fish species in the same lake but spawning not only at different times but in different depths. And this happens the most with large bodies of water.

    • Day & Night Cycles

While it is common knowledge among the most experienced fishermen, it is possible for someone who’s just starting not to know that some species prefer spawning in the morning, while others do it in the sunrise.

As the light from the sun changes the temperature of the body of water, fish take that as signs to decide whether to spawn or not.

    • Current & Rain

When it rains, on where’s a storm, or something of the like – bodies of water change in size, depth, and eventually get more or less current. When this happens, the more common effect is for fish to delay their spawn times, while a few others rush their spawn time.

This will help you catch the right one accordingly, and the different alternatives you’ll have whenever an outside factor delays it.

From extreme weather to environmental damage, these factors can have a significant impact on fish spawn times every year.

When Do Fish Spawn & When do They Eat?

If you are eager to learn when different species spawn, you’ll do good to go into this article to find out. Here’s what you should know:

​1. Walleye

best tips for walleye fishing

This fish is probably the only one that spawns in March or April, sometimes in between. For this fish to start breeding, the water should be about 43 to 48ºF, as it makes them more comfortable. And the place they like the most is in rocky parts in lakes and stretches in oceans. The less profound this part, the better for the walleye.

As this fish doesn’t care for their eggs as much as other species. They just mate and leave the eggs in a rocky place, and that’s it. The females may eventually stick around and protect them from other fish, but that’s unlikely. Walleye prefer difficult places to spawn because that’s where fewer other species are.

When They Eat

The walleye also prefers to eat a lot while and after mating. This means you can put anything you want as bait and they will catch. It could be a bobber with live bait, a fly, a small plastic, or even a simple hook with no bait and they may also catch that.

And what makes them even better to pick is that they go on aggressively to catch the bait, which makes them fun to fish.

2. Northern Pike

northern pike

These are one of the species that prefer the coldest temperatures out there. However, their spawning temperatures can range from 35 to 50ºF most of the time.

And when it comes to places, they prefer marshes and cattails, rushes where there are many plants and weeds to hide and feed on. If you spot a place like this with temperatures like that, you are very likely to find northern spikes.

Sometimes they spawn when there’s ice still in the water. Most of the time pikes do this where the water is very deep, so females and males can come together and start the mating time.

Here, the males will slap the females with their tails, leaving milt so the females can fertilize the eggs. Then the females drop the eggs in the bottom and let the babies grow by themselves.

When They Eat

Similar to walleyes, northern pikes don’t have many other fishes to protect their eggs from, so parents may leave children unattended. And of course, this happens because, after the mating process, they end up exhausted and looking for food like crazy. Here’s where you can fish them more easily after they’ve just spawned.

The problem of northern fishing pikes is that they love icy and deep water. So not only it will be difficult to find the ideal bait, but it will also be a problem to find the right area to fish.

But as long as you know you’re on the right temperature & marshy area, there’s a high chance you can catch one of these with a spinner or minnow bait. Sometimes, tip-ups or large shiners may work.

3. Largemouth Bass

largemouth bass

The preferred species of many fishermen, especially those who like summer – largemouth bass loves April and May and spawns in temperatures from 60 to 70ºF.

This fish also prefers really deep waters, so you will most likely find them in lakes, especially those with hard depths such as gravel, rocks, and sometimes even sand. If it has many weeds and marshes, they won’t probably be there.

With this species, you will experience different spawning and eating behavior. They don’t leave their children unattended such as walleyes and northern pikes, they instead made big nests in the bed floor by piling up rocks or by laydown.

Then the females go into the dens, the most covered the better for them and will start mating.

When They Eat

After mating, they will look for food, so here’s where you enter.

To fish largemouth bass you’ll need something that goes deep into the bottom of the lake. Sometimes, a worm or crawfish work really well too.

Remember they protect their nests better than other species, so it is crucial to find a bait that moves, this will attract their attention the most. We recommend drop-shooting to maximize the opportunities of catching one.

​4. Smallmouth Bass

smallmouth bass

They are very similar to largemouth, but they prefer a slightly cooler environment and are way more invested in their nests, so it will probably be hard to catch them.

You’ll find them in between April and May in temperatures that range from 55 to 65ºF. Just find a place where smallmouth bass are supposed to be with temperatures like this and within these months, and you’ll see them.

The spawning behavior is based on the males creating nests deep in shallow waters, using rocks, weeds, and leaves for it. They love to cover up their nests, even more than largemouth.

But in contrast with the latter, the females of smallmouth will stay in the nests for a long time until the eggs hatch. So catching females can be harder than males, which reduces fishing possibilities a little.

When They Eat

Males will immediately go and find food after mating, so here’s where you need to prepare moving bait that goes profound in deep water.

Remember that they are more aggressive and protective of their eggs and rarely leave the nest while doing it, so if you can shoot moving bait close to one of these nests, you will probably catch something.

​5. Bluegill

bluegill fishing

When it comes to fishing in spawn times, the Bluegill is probably among the most challenging species out there. You can generally find them in the hottest months, such as June, July and Augusts at temperatures that range from 65 to 80ºF and sometimes a little more.

The problem with bluegill is that they go and make nests even deeper than bass does. However, they are a little more aggressive and active during this time, especially the males. Females will mostly stay inside or around the nest without going far, but the males may go on an eating frenzy and come back to the nest and protect it.

When They Eat

Luckily, Bluegills separate from the nest once the eggs are large enough or hatched. This means you can find them eating like crazy, going hard towards any bait without problems. You can use a bobber, flies, or even small plastics.

If you want to catch them while spawning, using moving bait that goes deep can be your best choice. Similarly to walleyes, though, they eat aggressively, so they are fun to catch.

6. Perch

perch fish

This species doesn’t like deep water as much as others, yet it may go at it in the coldest months or in the coldest places when spawning. But they love vegetation, especially small bushes, and marshes where the water is not too deep.

You’ll find them spawning in months such as April, May and sometimes even June. The temperatures can go from 40 to 60ºF. You’ll know it is perch because they lay eggs deep and then come back to the surface to eat. The females will create the nests and lay eggs, and then the males come and spread milt so they can grow.

When They Eat

As soon as the spawning finishes, perches leave the nests and go eat. The mating process doesn’t leave the fish going crazy for food, but they will still be aggressive towards almost any bait, especially small ones. From plastics to jigs, crank-baits, bobbers, and even live bait can be pretty effective with perch.

​7. Crappie


This fish makes small bowl-like nests in shallow water going from 2 to 8 feet deep. The temperature of spawning for Crappie is around 55 to 60ºF, especially when water is very active.

You’ll mostly find them in May or June months, but they don’t appear in hot places but instead where there are logs and weeds debris and brush. Here is where males will decide to make their small nests.

When the females find the males and the nests, they will drop the eggs. Males will then go and fertilize. They will stay around the nest to protect while the females go eat. This process can take one or two days. And you’ll find the fish very active, which makes them very easy to fish.

When They Eat

Despite their preference for bushy places, crappies are easier to fish than many other species. Their aggressiveness, especially from the males, makes the bait choice pretty easy – anything from spinners to plastics and crankbaits will work.

Tube jigs, small minnows, and live bait can also work terrifically. And the best of all – they like to stay in large groups which mean you can find & catch them quickly.

How to Start Catching Your First Fish

Bottom Line

So, ready to start fishing according to spawn times?

Experts recommend using these tips to find the ideal catch in the selected months. If you go at it using this knowledge, fishing will become more fun and more comfortable with time.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *