Love is in the Water

It’s the end of February and even with Valentine’s Day candy now on clearance, love is still in the air—and water. That’s right. It’s spawning season.

I won’t lie. I never knew anything about this. Growing up, they tell you about the birds and the bees, but not the bass. I never even thought about baby bass. I guess I just assumed they emerged out of the lake bottom already full-grown and ready to jump on my hook. Was I ever wrong.

Fishing lines were drawn long ago on this issue and many fishing experts and amateurs alike, from pros to conservationists alike, go rod to rod on this. Whose right and whose wrong, I don’t yet have an opinion, but regardless of your opinion, it is legal, but there are some rules, both official and unofficial that should be followed.

I’ve heard that fishing during spawning season can disrupt the breeding cycle of the fish and hurt future populations, but I’ve also heard it can be a premier time to catch fish, since they are so, well, active, during this time. Then again, I’ve heard it can be one of the most challenging times to catch bass.

It’s not exactly like “Finding Nemo,” where father fish and baby fish have an inseparable bond and swim across the ocean to find one another.

However, through research and talking to some local fishermen, I did discover a few fascinating facts about bass, regarding their “domestic roles.”

1. Male bass build the nest, usually about 1-3 feet in diameter—small, but cozy.

2. The males guard the females while they release eggs, sometimes by rubbing against rocks or other objects.

3. After the females release the eggs, they take off for deeper water, where they relax and recuperate for several weeks, leaving the males to care for the soon-to-be little whippersnappers.

4. During this time, the male also takes on all housekeeping duties, keeping the bed made and the area around it tidy and secure.

5. How quickly the young ones hatch depends on the water temperature—the warmer—the faster, but regardless the male bass normally stays with the small fry until they are a few weeks old, or about one-inch in length, just to show them the ropes of survival.

6. After that, he may eat them. Who knew bass were cannibals? Up to 12,000 eggs may be laid in one bed, but out of those, only 5-10 will grow to be 10 inches in length. Talk about survival of the fittest!

So, no feeding, cleaning, or babysitting for the lady bass—can we humans please adopt this lifestyle?  I think I might rather enjoy being a lady bass!

But, I suppose that will never catch on, so I digress.

Regardless, when you are in the spawning area, where all this “fishy kissing” is going on, keep a few things in mind.

1. Stay away from nesting areas unnecessarily. If you are on shore, it’s not a good idea to wade into the middle of the bedding area. If you are afloat, it’s best to stay about 7 feet out—close enough to have a chance of getting a bite, but far enough away so you don’t spook them. After all, don’t you want a little privacy when you’re in bed? Do what you need to do and then move on.

2. Keep in mind that the bass aren’t eating during this time, therefore, catching them may be tricky. The only interest they have in anything you throw at them on a hook, is to move it away from their nests.

3. Catch and release. Accurately measure any caught fish. Make sure they meet state guidelines, which are listed below. After all, when it comes to love, even fishy love, cheating is never a good thing. Why be satisfied with the small fry? And, don’t you want more fish to grow big and strong so that there will be plenty of big fishing in the future?

Below are the regulations set forth by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for bass, which is what most of you are probably fishing for at Sam Rayburn anyway.


The combined limit for any combination of largemouth, smallmouth, Guadalupe and spotted bass is 5 fish per day.

Largemouth & smallmouth

Minimum Length:
14 inches
Spotted & Guadalupe

Minimum Length:
No minimum

Striped & hybrid striped
(also known as Palmetto or Sunshine bass)

Daily Bag:
5 in any combination
Minimum Length:
18 inches

White bass

Daily Bag:
Minimum Length:
10 inches

Yellow bass

Daily Bag:
No limit
No Minimum Length

So, to fish during the spawn or not, that is not the question I will answer today. That is for you to decide yourself. All I’m asking is that you do so with care and consideration.

So tell me dear readers, what do you think? Please comment with your fishing suggestions, fun facts, and opinions on this issue.


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Lake Sam Rayburn Weather Forecast



Hi: 49

Saturday Night

Mostly Clear

Lo: 30


Mostly Sunny

Hi: 57

Sunday Night

Mostly Clear

Lo: 37


Rain Showers Likely

Hi: 53

Monday Night

Rain Showers Likely

Lo: 42


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Hi: 56

Tuesday Night

Partly Cloudy

Lo: 33

Lake Sam Rayburn Water Level (last 30 days)

Water Level on 1/22: 161.00 (-3.40)

Lake Sam Rayburn

Fishing Report from TPWD (Jan. 19)

GOOD. Water stained; 55-58 degrees; 3.33 feet low. Fishing remains the same as we head into another cold front. Bass are good on Carolina rigs and crankbaits in the points, ditches and drains. Crappie are good on live minnows, then jigs after the live bite subsides. You will find them in creeks and river channels. Catfish are good in shallow to 15 feet of water, moving towards the creeks. Report by Lynn Atkinson, Reel Um N Guide Service.

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