How to plan fishing trips around spawning seasons

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blue gill
Blue collar pan fish like blue gills and crappies can provide a morning full of action when more glamorous species like bass are taking the day off. Light line and tiny lures are keys to making smaller fish as much fun as any trophy.

When it comes to fishing, spring is king. Fish spawn throughout spring, increasing their activity and predictability. Understanding the spawning habits of various species of fish can make or break your fishing trip.

Generally speaking, most common species of fish in Ohio and Pennsylvania begin spawning when temperatures rise above 50 F. However, a few will spawn in temperatures as low as 40 F. In this guide, you’ll find the spawning seasons and the preferred water temperatures and spawn locations of several spices of popular fish.

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Pike

Spawning season: February-March
Temperature: 40 F
Spawning locations: During spawning season, pike can be found near shorelines, marshes, flooded areas and at the mouths of tributaries in areas with vegetation, especially along north and east shorelines where water temperature rises first.

Walleye

Spawning season: March-April
Temperature: 40-50 F
Spawning locations: The best places to look for Walleye throughout spawning season are below dams, in the faces of dams in stocked lakes, in causeway openings with a water current and near shallow bars and reefs with gravel present.

Sauger

Spawning season: March-April
Temperature: 40-50 F
Spawning locations: Sauger will use sand and gravel bars directly downstream of locks and dams on the Ohio River during spawning. They can also be found near in-stream structures such as rocks or woody debris that provide current breaks.

Muskellunge

Spawning season: April
Temperature: 50-55 F
Spawning locations: Muskellunge spawn in areas with soft shallow bottoms, especially those with emerging weedbeds.

White Perch

Spawning season: April-May
Temperature: 50-60 F
Spawning locations: During spawning season, fishermen will have the best luck in tributaries and riffle areas.

Carp

Spawning season: April-June
Temperature: 55-65 F
Spawning locations: Carp are prevalent in shallows during spawning season.

Yellow Perch

Spawning season: Mid-April-Early May
Temperature: 45-54 F
Spawning locations: Yellow perch move inshore to spawn around mid-April. They can be found near shore over vegetation or just off the bottom.

Largemouth Bass

Spawning season: Mid-April-Mid-June
Temperature: 55-65 F
Spawning locations: Largemouth bass can be found near secondary and main lake points, featuring a hard bottom with sand or gravel.

Spotted Bass

Spawning season: Mid-April-Mid-June
Temperature: 55-65 F
Spawning locations: Spotted bass spawn in areas with rock or gravel bottoms.

White Bass

Spawning season: Late April-May
Temperature: 55 F
Spawning locations: White bass can be found in tributary streams as they migrate upstream to spawn. After arrival to spawning grounds, they stick to areas with hard surfaces.

Smallmouth Bass

Spawning season: May-June
Temperature: 55-65 F
Spawning locations: Smallmouth bass spawn in areas with slow-moving water and gravel or hard bottoms, usually near some type of cover.

Rock Bass

Spawning season: May-June
Temperature: 60-70 F
Spawning locations: Like other spices of bass, rock bass prefer locations with sand or gravel bottoms during its spawning season.

Black Crappie

Spawning season: May-June
Temperature: 50-72 F
Spawning locations: Black crappie move to shallow locations that include brush, rocks, vegetation and other debris to spawn.

White Crappie

Spawning season: May-June
Temperature: 50-72 F
Spawning locations: White crappie also seek out shallow spawning locations with brush, rocks, vegetation and other debris to spawn.

Bluegill

Spawning season: Mid-May-Mid-June
Temperature: 65-70 F
Spawning locations: Bluegill spawn in shallow areas with a hard bottom, including sand, gravel or vegetation.

Redear Sunfish

Spawning season: Mid-May-Mid-June
Temperature: 65-75 F
Spawning locations: In May, redder sunfish move into shallow water to spawn. Their spawning beds will be located in areas with sand or gravel bottoms.

Flathead Catfish

Spawning season: June-July
Temperature: 70 F
Spawning locations: Most Ohio catfish are cavity spawners. You can find flathead catfish in or near banks, burrows and holes during its spawning season.

Channel Catfish

Spawning season: June-July
Temperature: 72-78 F
Spawning locations: Channel catfish are also cavity spawners and can be found in or near banks, burrows and holes during its spawning season.

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