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As we all know, bass are a popular species of game fish for anglers but in order to catch them you need to know exactly where to look for them.
While there are certain factors you need to think about when it comes to locating bass, such as the weather or seasons, you get an advantage over your fishing pals, by educating yourself about their general habitat.
So, to increase your knowledge, we’ve put together this guide to help you learn a little more about where bass live and where you might find them.
Where Do Bass Live (Generally)?
Bass can be found in waters all across the United States and various other countries around the world. The conditions that they prefer tend to be similar in most bodies of water, which can mean there may be general areas of a lake or river where the bass can be found.
Bass generally require oxygenated water, vegetation and structure for cover, and access to both shallow and deep water. If there is food all year round in a particular location, as well as meeting the other habitat requirements, some bass may stay in this area all year.
Marinas and creeks, for example, may provide good year round bass habitat because they will often have easy access to shallow water for spawning, structure and cover for protection from predators and the weather, and deep water nearby where they can move up and down in the water column depending on the conditions.
Bass are not only a freshwater species. Striped bass, for example, can live in the ocean, usually along the Atlantic coast of North America, and will generally enter coastal rivers during the spring in order to spawn.
However, some striped bass can often be found in rivers and bays all year long, particularly males. They have also been introduced to various bodies of water on the Pacific Coast.
For the striped bass that are anadromous, they will often spend their lives in the sea from the age of around two to four years old when they will tend to move out of the rivers and coastal bays.
Striped bass can also be found around weeds and cover but unlike largemouth bass, they can often be found around strong current. They feed on a range of fish, from menhaden and flounder to herring and eels. They can also be caught using a variety of lures but during the spring, herring can be a good option.
Striped bass usually prefer water that’s around 55 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit, and outside of these temperatures, they will tend to be moving to waters that are closer to their preferred temperature.
While some bass may prefer to stay in the one general location where they are close to everything they might need for year round survival, others will tend to migrate, either following baitfish or in search of better water quality.
Video: Understanding The Seasonal Migration Of Bass
Depending on the size of the lake, the migration may not actually be very far but it can sometimes be enough to warrant different tactics when it comes to locating them or catching them.
During the transition periods where bass are moving either to their spawning grounds or away from them, they will often follow seasonal migration routes that will usually consist of channels under the water. These channels may also have other features, such as points where the bass can rest along the route.
With saltwater bass, such as striped bass, the migration distance may be much longer than with lake bass and you may find you’re working with deeper water in general when it comes to the channels, especially on larger rivers.
Video: How To Find Bass In The Post Spawn Transition
The depths at which you’re likely to find bass will often depend on the temperature of the water, as this can affect where in the water column they will be. Warm water will generally hold less oxygen than cold water, which means it can be less comfortable for bass.
This means that when the temperatures increase, for example, during the hot summer, the bass will often move into deeper, cooler water where there is more dissolved oxygen than there is at the surface.
However, they will also tend to move to deeper water in the winter, where there may be less of a temperature change compared to the shallows that can be affected by the colder air temperature.
Does The Time Of Year Matter?
Just like water temperatures, seasons will tend to affect where in a particular lake or river the bass might be located. Bass will usually spawn in the spring, which means they can often be found closer to the shallows, as this is where they make their nests.
The periods before and after the spawn are generally considered to be transition periods, as the bass tend to be moving out of one area and into another as the water temperatures begin to rise. This means you may not always have success finding them in the same area.
During the pre-spawn, the bass will usually start to make their way out of their deeper winter habitat and into the nearby shallows to feed. During the post spawn, the bass will usually start to move towards their summer zones.
These summer areas can often include deeper points, such as ledges, where they have easy access to cover and structure for feeding and shelter. But the areas can also include areas where there is vegetation.
A lot of the time you might find that where there is a combination of vegetation and ledges, this can be ideal summer bass habitat.
During the transition periods where bass are traveling either to or from their spawning areas, they can often be found in the creek channels and migration routes between the deeper winter or summer zones and the shallow spawning zones.
In the case of striped bass, they will likely be found in rivers in the spring as they return from the ocean to spawn in freshwater. These locations can often be a significant distance from the sea, for example, in the Hudson River in Upstate New York.
What About Weeds, Woods, And Rocks?
Largemouth bass tend to like areas where there’s vegetation, so anywhere where there are weeds or grasses can be good spots to locate bass. These areas tend to provide adequate cover for bass, allowing them to both hide from predators and ambush their prey.
Summertime can be a good time to find bass around weeds because this tends to be the time when weeds will naturally appear. Weeds can also provide shade from the hot sun and cooler water, as well as more oxygen in the water.
Other fish and creatures will also tend to take advantage of the weed beds for feeding, which can attract bass and encourage them to feed closer to the surface.
Submerged logs, tree stumps and other timber structure can provide excellent habitat for bass, as it can give them the shelter they require throughout the year and it can be a good place for them to feed.
The wood can often attract baitfish to feed on the organisms that tend to grow on the wood. This in turn can attract bass that are preying on the baitfish.
Wood structure can be a good spot for finding bass because it can often be a more permanent cover compared to weeds and plants that may die out after the summer.
Just like wood and weeds, rocks can be a great place to find bass.
Algae and other organisms tend to grow on rocks which provide a source of food for baitfish and crawfish, so bass can often be found around rocky cover hunting for the baitfish.
Video: Fishing The Rocks In Early Morning For Bass
Not only that, rocks can also provide a source of heat, which can be useful for the bass in winter when the water temperatures drop. Another reason why rocks can be a great place for bass to live in winter is because crawfish tend to be found in rocky areas all year round.
Smallmouth bass usually prefer to spawn near rocky bottoms or in gravel, which will usually happen during the spring when water temperatures hit around the low 60s. Smallmouth bass may tend to favor rocky habitats over other types of habitats, such as weeds.
Knowing where bass live can make it easier to find them at any given time. However, many bass don’t live in one specific location.
They will tend to move in order to spawn, look for food or seek shelter. But there are certain features in a lake or river that can make it easier to locate them, such as weeds and structure.
Remember, the seasons and weather can often affect where you’re likely to find bass, with spring often being when they’ll be in the shallows for the spawn. Help your buddies find bass by sharing this with them and let us know how your next fishing trip goes.