Ultimate Guide To Seasonal Bass Behavior: How To Catch Bass Year Round

If you've been fishing for any length of time, you know what it's like to go back to that fishing hole where you were recently slaying bass just a few weeks ago, only to get skunked and end the day without a single bite.

What the heck, right?!

It's as if the fish have vanished from the lake, and all the fishing strategies you've been having success with magically stopped working altogether. Almost like you just forgot how to catch bass altogether!

Well, what if I told you there might be a solution to your problem?

Bass have specific seasonal behavior tendencies that we can use to our advantage to hunt them down in any given body of water. By learning these behavior patterns, you'll be better equipped to identify the changing variables that influence bass behavior during each season so you can quickly adapt to their patterns and catch more bass!

While us humans usually break down the year into just four seasons - Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer - bass on the other hand tend to function in what seems like 7 or 8 seasons.

In this guide to understanding seasonal bass behavior, we'll break down bass behavioral patterns season by season to help you become a more successful angler. We'll also give you the best bass lures for each season, to help you successfully catch bass year round!

By the time you're finished reading this article, you'll have a solid understanding of how bass behave during each season and be well on your way to becoming a more successful angler.

Understanding Bass Behavior

Bass are concerned with just three things in life (must be nice, right?):

  • Surviving
  • Feeding
  • Reproducing

These 3 concerns - along with water temperatures and water levels, light penetration, oxygen, and food supplies - each influence bass behavior and movement patterns during the season.


Bass require 3 elements to thrive in any given body of water:

  1. Food
  2. Oxygen
  3. Cover

Understanding how these three elements affect the ability of bass to survive in any given body of water will help us focus our attention on areas which that have a high probability of holding bass.


Bass are opportunistic predators with a broad palate for just about anything they can fit in their mouths.

Their diet consists primarily of smaller “bait” fish but will readily adapt to eating other available food sources such as crayfish, frogs, snakes, worms, mice, birds, and just about any other creature they can fit in their mouths, including each other. Yes, bass eat bass.

Learning the migratory patterns and behaviors of bait fish and other prey bass feed on in your targeted body of water is a major puzzle piece to understanding the behavior of bass in your fishing waters and putting the pattern together to minimize your search for where bass might be on any given day.

Cover & Structure

Bass leverage structure and cover as ambush points for feeding and protection from predators and the sun.

While cover and structure are often used synonymously by anglers, structure refers to the contour and composition of the water's edges and bottoms that affect the flow of water, such as pockets, humps, bridges, creek beds, points, flats, and drop-offs. On the other hand, cover is the objects in the water, such as brush piles, docks, laydowns, standing timber, and vegetation. While the bass may use structure for cover, and cover may obstruct the flow of water, they are two different things.

Bass love cover for two primary reasons:

  • As ambush points for attack
  • Protection from predators
Bass Feeding Behaviors

Bass prey on their food by either ambushing or chasing. How they choose to feed changes throughout the seasons.

When bass are actively feeding on bait fish, they will corral and pin them against structures, such as ledges, banks, and flats, feeding on the bait fish as they try to escape. At other times, bass will sit idly by, hidden in cover, waiting for that opportunistic moment to ambush their prey.

Weather, light conditions, water levels, temperatures, and clarity play major roles in how bass utilize structure and cover.

Bass have a keen sense of sight and sound that enable them to detect vibrations. During times of poor water clarity, bass will stick their nose up against cover for a sense of security, listening for vibrations given off by their prey displacing water as it moves through it. Super clear waters allow bass to see their prey from afar, making your lure selection and presentation even more vital.

Muddy waters, strong currents, and sunlight often cause bass to hold tightly to cover or structure.

Bass don't have eyelids, so they utilize the cover from docks, lily pads, overhangs, stumps, and anything else that casts a shadow to shade themselves from the blazing sun.

Bass Hide From Predators In Cover

While adult bass may be known as apex predators in their habitat, they have many predators that will gladly feed on them.

Blue herring, cormorants, hawks, eagles, osprey, and many other aerial predators will gladly swoop bass up from the water when given the opportunity. Otters, gators, turtles, and snakes are also known predators to bass. Bass are also prey to many other predators, including their bass buddies. Northern pike, muskies, larger perch, and fellow bass are known to consume bass.


Dissolved oxygen is essential for a healthy bass population. Oxygen is dissolved in water through a process of diffusion and the amount of dissolved oxygen that water can hold is finite and varies with temperatures. As water temperatures increase, the amount of dissolved oxygen it can hold decreases.

Bass are particularly susceptible to low oxygen levels because they are cold-blooded fish. This means that their body temperature is the same as the surrounding water.

During hot summer months, it is not uncommon for areas of a lake or pond to become devoid of dissolved oxygen, creating "dead zones."

When dissolved oxygen levels become too low, bass relocate to areas of higher oxygen concentration.

Low oxygen levels can cause a number of problems for bass, including:

  • Reduced growth rates
  • Increased susceptibility to disease
  • Difficulty in reproducing
  • Death

There are a few ways an angler can find areas of high dissolved oxygen concentration:

  • Look for areas of the lake or pond that are near the shoreline, near inflows and outflows, or along points and drop-offs. Moving water creates fresh oxygen for the fish to thrive on.
  • Bass will often school up in deeper waters during the heat of the day to take advantage of the cooler water temperatures and higher oxygen levels.
  • Look for areas of high vegetation. These areas are typically along the shoreline and near inflows and outflows. The vegetation provides oxygen to the water and also attracts bait fish, which in turn attract bass.
  • Look for areas of the lake or pond where the water is rippled or choppy from the wind. These wind-blown areas are typically along the shoreline and near points and drop-offs.

Fall Bass Fishing

Fall can be an exciting time for bass anglers. As the water temperatures begin to drop, the bass begin feeding, looking to put on weight in preparationfor the winter months.

The thick summer aquatic vegetation thins out, lilies disappear from the surface, and bass begin moving to hard cover.

The bait fish begin schooling up in tributary arms and become extremely active.

Bass take full advantage of these schooling bait fish, suspending in nearby cover waiting to ambush any unsuspecting bait fish that swim by.

Where To Look For Bass In The Fall

  1. Look for structure around the openings of creek arms.
    • Shallower humps, large flats, and main lake points.
  2. Bass will follow bait fish into tributary arms as the water temperature continues to fall.
    • Coves and secondary points near the mouths of creeks.

Best Fall Bass Baits & Lures

Moving baits that mimic bait fish are the winning ticket this time of year.

  • Medium-Diving Crankbaits - Bass often suspend off the bottom this time of year, so a medium running crankbait works well to dangle what looks like a tasty bait fish in their face.
  • Willow Leaf Spinnerbaits - Willow leaf spinnerbaits cut well through the remnant aquatic vegetation.
  • Small Topwater Baits - When bass are in a feeding frenzy near schooling bait fish, small topwater lures like poppers and buzzbaits can work wonders.
  • Soft Jerkbaits - Soft plastic jerkbaits mimic bait fish extremely well.
  • Finesse Worms - When the bite is tough, dropshotting a finesse worm can turn a rough day around.

Winter Bass Fishing

Winter is a rough time for bass anglers. The cold winter weather forces bass and bait fish to find stable temperatures in deeper water.

Bass are cold blooded and take on the temperature of their environment. The cold water causes them to become lethargic, slowing their biological processes.

While bass don't hibernate, their metabolism slows down from the cold water, causing them to require less food and conserve energy.

Where To Find Bass In The Winter

Bass often group up in the winter. Some high percentage areas to find them are:

  1. Steep depth changes:
    • Creek channel drop-offs
    • Rock ledges
    • Ditches
  2. Main lake humps, submerged roadbeds, standing timber in deeper water

Best Winter Bass Baits & Lures

Bess feed less frequently and are less willing to chase bait fish during the winter months, so sticking to slower presentations is generally best.

  • Jigs
  • Spoons
  • Jig Heads
  • Crankbaits
  • Bladed Baits

Spring Bass Fishing

Spring bass fishing is a special time of year for bass anglers. As the weather warms and the water temperatures begin to rise, bass feel safe to leave their winter sanctuaries and begin to spawn.

While anglers often divide the spring into 3 sections, pre-spawn, spawn, and post-spawn, note that bass do not spawn uniformily, therefore all 3 phases of the spawn are often happening at the same time.


Spawning is the process of fish depositing eggs in an environment where they can hatch and develop into fry. The time leading up to spawning is known as the pre-spawn.

The bass begin actively feeding during the pre-spawn to gather energy for reproduction, moving into tributary arms towards their shallow spawning grounds, using structure and cover for guidance.

Where To Find Bass During Pre-Spawn

  • Bass often stick tightly to cover during this time, so fish structural features and cover between their winter spots and spawning grounds.

Best Pre-Spawn Bass Baits & Lures

As temperatures rise, bass become more and more active. Work these baits faster and faster as the water temperature rises, slowing them near isolated cover.

  • Spinnerbaits
  • Crankbaits
  • Lipless Crankbaits
  • Chatterbaits

Crawfish become a prominent food source for bass in the late winter to early spring, so fishing a red rattletrap has become known as one of the best pre-spawn baits.


Bass begin their spawning process when water temperatures reach about 60-65 degrees.

They build their nests in shallow water, typically with hard bottoms, then the females lay their eggs. The males are left with the eggs to protect them, while the females will move to nearby cover.

This is a great time to fish for bass, as they are easy to catch while they are spawning. Just be careful not to disturb their nests.

Where To Find Bass During The Spawn

  • Females can often be found suspended in nearby cover.
  • Look for male bass protecting their nests.
  • Bass eggs require a certain amount of sunlight to hatch successfully. So in murkier waters the bass will spawn shallower than in clear waters.
  • Northern parts of a body of water are typically warmer as they are protected from the north winds.

Best Bass Spawn Baits & Lures

During the spawn, bass become highly protective of their beds, so baits that appear threatening work well to trigger reaction bites.

  • Soft Jerkbaits like a fluke
  • Jigs
  • Creature baits like lizards
  • Ribbon tail worms


Bass fishing post spawn can be tricky as the bass a recovering from the stressful spawning process.

Spawning is a demanding time for bass, and they will often seek out areas where they can ambush bait fish.

Where To Find Bass Post-Spawn

  • Look for bass in areas where they can ambush bait fish, such as near drop-offs, submerged vegetation, or any other type of cover.
  • Be prepared to fish deep, as bass will often hold in deep water after spawning.

Best Post-Spawn Bass Baits & Lures

  • Glide BaitsGreat bait to use around shallow cover and grass lines. Try adding pauses into your retrieval cadence.
  • Whacky RigThe good ol' whacky rig stick bait worm. A great finesse alternative. Chuck it back into cover where other baits can't reach or into a school of bass fry and let it fall slowly.
  • Hollow Body FrogThe hollow body frog is a great tool known for it's drawing power. A great option for covering lots of water, just be careful not to fish it too fast.
  • Jointed-SwimbaitsSimilar to the glide bait, the swim bait is a more subtle presentation to try, capable of catching some monster bass.
  • CrankbaitsAggressive moving crankbaits can draw quick reaction strikes from fish.

Don't forget to check your local regulations before heading out. Some areas have special restrictions in place during the spawning season.

Summer Bass Fishing

As summer sets in and the water temperatures rise, bass begin pushing back into the deep waters of the main lake seeking cooler temperatures and schooling bait fish.

Summer is a lot like winter bass fishing, except bass are warm water fish, and remain active in the summer heat.

While bass do thrive in warm waters, extreme temperatures are a stressor, so to compensate, summer bass typically feed aggressively in short bursts. Timing is often critical for summer bass fishing.

While most summer bass move to deeper waters, at some point the lack of light penetration and insufficient oxygen levels become an issue. Anglers often refer to this as a deadzone - the area below the thermocile.

In clear waters, bass are said to be deeper than in stained waters. This is likely due to oxygen and light penetration factors.

However, some bass do remain shallow. You're best bet is fishing in the early mornings and late evenings when they are tempted to feed around where the shallow bait fish.

How deep is deeper waters?

This is all relevant to your body of water, but in general 6-12 feet is a good rane to check. However during the peak of summer, bass can be found at 15-20 feet often, especially in clear waters.

Where To Find Bass During The Summer

  • Bass generally move to deeper, cooler waters in main lake areas. The clearer the water, the deeper they may be.
  • Look for sudden drop off points where bass can hang out and ambush their prey.
  • Deep brush piles and laydowns often hold bass.
  • Look for deep pockets (even if it's just a foot or so difference) and other structural drop offs where bass can find cooler water, especially around points.
  • For shallower areas, look for shade. Skipping lures up under docks and into the back of overhangs are common areas to find bass in the summer.

Best Summer Bass Baits & Lures

  • Jigs: Ah, the jig, probably my favorite lure. Pitching jigs around cover, up under docks, around brush piles, or drag it along the bottom. It's just so versatile!
  • Whacky Rig: Yup, the whacky rig again. Something about the way it falls naturally in the water - the bass just can't resist it.
  • Drop Shots: The drop shot is another great summer fishing lure that can be very effective in catching summer bass when the bites tough.
  • Carolina Rigs: The carolina rig is a versatile lure that can be used to search for bass in deep waters and it's incredibly beginner friendy!
  • Lipless & Deep Diving Crankbaits: Lipless crankbaits and deep diving crankbaits that mimic local bait fish are great ways to trigger some bites.