SMB spawn



Well-known member
Sep 1, 2010
State College
I'm on a FB group for fishing the Juniata river and discussions are ongoing about the ethics of fishing during the spawn. Many know targeting beds is illegal, but fishing is allowable. I thought to myself, it reminds me of the discussions about trout. I sometimes fish when trout spawn in waters I know have no activity or in spawning poor areas of the streams (don't do it much because the better fish have migrated to spawning areas, but its good to get out). I started SMB fishing 5 years ago and have fished for bass after trout waters get warm and levels drop on the big rivers such as the Juniata. I realize I have idea where and what types of water SMB spawn in. Like the case for trout are there areas where there is little to no spawning activity that is safe to fish? maybe fast, deep water? I'm not chomping at the bit to fish SMB in May when the hatches are my priority, but it would be good to know.
SMB experts, what say you?
Like everything, there's a personal philosophy issue and room for some different views.

I'm not a "no fishing during the spawn" purist when it comes to trout. I unapologetically fish for wild trout in the fall, but don't bother fish that are spawning.

When it comes to river SMBs, I generally stop fishing for bass around the end of April and don't resume until sometime around mid-June. I'll make an exception on occasion. River smallies like to spawn in slack water areas close to shore with woody debris. I see nothing wrong with bass fishing as you can avoid these areas during the prime spawning season in the May/June if you're on water where fishing is allowed. In particular, you don't want to pull a male off a guarded nest if you can avoid this.

As you mentioned, it's prime trout time now and I'm happy to wait until June to resume bass fishing.
“Personal philosophy” is a great way to put it.

Generally people are more accepting of fishing bass during the spawn and fish on beds. I don’t do it. There are plenty of other fisheries and fish that are in their prime at this time, so I choose to fish for them. I’d also recommend not fishing bass during the spawn cause it’s silly and too easy. Go catch some bluegills and have fun. And oh yea trout fishing can be “ok” during this time , so maybe try for them during hatch season and prime feeding tomes
I fish for smallies a lot and I have found they do not all spawn at the exact same time. Just fish areas that are not used for spawning and you will be able to find prespawn/post-spawn fish as other are spawning.
I’ll fish for smallmouth some in March and April if water levels cooperate but give it a break the end of April until mid June. I generally trout fish December through early June and smallmouth mid June through October or November to try to avoid the spawning times as much as I can.

I guess concerning bass specifically I don’t do it but also wouldn’t hold it against anyone who fishes responsibly during that time.