All You Need to Know About Fish Spawning

If you want success when fishing then it’s best to learn everything you can about fish and their behavior patterns. Fish spawning is a key process that governs their actions and location.

Whether you’re new to fishing or not, you’ve probably heard of fish spawning. You may even have heard it mentioned in a natural history documentary on TV.

After all, it is essentially the word that is used to describe the act of fish reproduction. Although you may not have thought about it before. Perhaps you figured fish spawning was only important if you were looking to breed them.

However, understanding as much as you can about fish spawning could improve your skills as an angler and increase your chances of landing those prize catches. Whether you are fishing for food or fishing for sport, it is vitally important you understand as much as possible about fish spawning.

To really cement why it’s so important, in the following post we will discuss the ins and outs and everything you need to really know about fish spawning. As well as looking at it in more general terms, we also provide some insight into the spawning habits and activities of some popular species for targeting such as catfish, salmon, and bass.

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What is Fish Spawning?

Fish spawning, as noted above, is basically the process of how fish reproduce. As you’re probably aware, many animals mate differently from one another.

Fish do not mate in the same way as mammals, for instance. Furthermore, some fish may even mate and reproduce differently from one another. Spawning is just one of the ways they do it. What are the others?

The Different Ways Fish Mate

There are 3 ways fish reproduce – by themselves, through spawning or through live-bearing. 

  • By themselves – As many fish are able to switch between genders, they are able to reproduce without the help of another animal. Animals that can do this are known scientifically and biologically as being hermaphrodites. 
  • Live bearing – Live bearing is very similar in a lot of ways to the way mammals mate and reproduce. 
  • Spawning – By far the most common way you will find that fish mate and reproduce is through spawning. Spawning is essentially the act of a female fish laying her eggs in water. Once they are in the water, a suitable male comes along and fertilizes all the eggs he is able to. This is the method of reproduction we will be mainly focusing on in our guide and the way the three species of fish we have highlighted further in the post mate and reproduce.

So, Not All Fish Lay Eggs?

As highlighted, there are three different ways fish can reproduce. So, whether a fish can lay eggs or not depends on the species of fish they are. In many cases, female fish are able to lay anything from just a couple of hundred to a few thousand eggs.

Confused by any of the fishing terminologies you’ve heard recently? Don’t miss our awesome fishing glossary that explains it all!

How Does Fish Spawning Impact Fishing?

At the very outset we noted that if you’re new to fishing or have been doing it some time, fish spawning is something you should familiarize yourself with more. When fish are spawning their behavior changes. We also noted that perhaps you’ve always figured that fish spawning was only of importance to anyone looking to breed fish. 

As such, knowing when the fish you want to catch is spawning and how exactly their behavior changes can make all the difference when it comes to adapting your methods and techniques to land more.

You will find that the majority of fish follow specific patterns when it comes to their spawning, though the pattern will be different for each species. There are many that change their habitat to a different location so they can benefit from a specific environment or terrain to lay eggs successfully or give birth to live young.

Interesting, there are many species of fish, salmon is a great example, that is caught more during their specific spawning season than when they are not spawning.

Having a better understanding of when particular fish spawn can improve your angling skills, as you will be able to avoid fish spawning seasons or anticipate them. You may even be able to use this information to your advantage to catch fish when they are in the process of moving location because they are spawning.

When is Fish Spawning Season?

While spawning as a concept is similar for most fish, their unique differences depending on the species you are interested in. These differences can be any of the following:

  • When they spawn
  • How old the fish spawning is?
  • How their behavior changes during spawning

It’s true that we can’t covered all the different species of fish out there, but in the next section of this post, we are going to discuss some of the fish spawning habits and differences for a variety of some of the most common and popular fish species you may be interested in catching.

The fish whose spawning habits we will discuss are

  • Salmon 
  • Bass
  • Catfish

Salmon and Spawning

You have probably seen salmon when they are en route to spawn and perhaps didn’t even realize it. Whenever salmon are shown swimming and leaping out of the water while the make their way upstream, that’s when they are making their way to where they intend to spawn. They migrate to lay eggs and then swim back to that area again when they are grown up to spawn again. 

two salmon spawning in a river

The unfortunate thing is that many of them die or are caught around this period or just after it.

The name given to this event and journey is the salmon run. This is important if you are looking to land some decent salmon as this is the best time of the season to catch them. Although they are born in freshwater streams and rivers and always return to the same place to spawn again, they mostly live out at the ocean. 

That obviously makes it exceedingly hard to catch them, so the best time and the time most anglers catch them is during their perilous migration when the spawning season begins. When is salmon spawning season? Normally from Spring to the end of summer.

Bass and Spawning

The only time bass actually spawn is during spring. The lay in wait for waters to reach temperatures of between 70 and 80-degrees Fahrenheit. Although you may be thinking it’s a rather small window of opportunity, you need to understand there are three distinct phases involved in bass spawning. 

Pre-spawn commences when the bass start to eat more than usual. This increase in their intake is to compensate for the fact they won’t be eating at all while they are spawning.

Bass characteristically become more aggressive during their spawning season and although they are not going to eat them, the species of fish they normally prey on will be the same ones they attack if they feel their eggs are in danger.

The post-spawn phase occurs when the eggs have just hatched

Catfish and Spawning

Interested in catching mighty and awe-inspiring catfish? It’s crucial to note that they normally spawn through spring and summer. They need to wait for the water temperature to reach around 70 to 84-degrees Fahrenheit. Why is it especially important to be aware when catfish are spawning?

catfish in river

Well, catfish, of all species are regarded as one of the most, if not the most difficult to catch during their spawning season. Why is that? This is largely because catfish are egg nesters. They look around for secluded and very dark cavities underwater to lay their eggs. Cavities in anything from burrows in banks to hollow logs or even just between some rocks.

Once the female of the species has chosen the optimal nesting location for her young, she then lays the eggs. Next, similarly with other fish spawning scenarios, a suitable male catfish will swim along and fertilize her eggs. Once they are fertilized, the female has done her job and swims off, leaving the male catfish to protect the eggs.

As well as fending off any potential predators, the male catfish also fans the eggs regularly to stop them being covered over and eventually buried by any sediments in the water. It takes around one week for the eggs to hatch. 

Learn When the Fish Spawning Seasons Commence & Prepare Accordingly

Now, you may not be targeting salmon, bass or catfish. However, even if you aren’t, you still need to research on the finer details of what’s involved in the spawning season of the fish you are looking to target. Knowing when it happens, where it happens and how the fish react in that time can help you to determine when it may be best to cast off and try to catch them.

Knowledge as much as skill and experience are what will help you to improve your chances of catching the fish you are targeting. 

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