As cold-blooded fish, bass activity levels are directly affected by water temperature. They become more active in warmer water and will readily chase after anything that looks edible. Then their metabolism slows down when water temperatures drop, making them sluggish and lethargic.
Since temperature is a big factor in catching bass, it is wise to learn what water temperature range these fish prefer. This bass temperature guide will provide answers to the questions: What is the best water temperature for bass fishing? What water temp do bass start biting? And when is it too cold or too hot to fish for bass?
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Bass Fishing by Water Temperature
Water temperature plays a huge role in bass behavior, which explains why some seasons are better for bass fishing than others.
During the winter months, water temperatures drop below 48 degrees. Bass feed less during this time, and getting them to bite is much tougher. You will find them hurdled in deeper waters where the temperature is warmer and more stable.
As the water temps rise in spring, bass become highly active and are more likely to chase bait to compensate for the cold months. This is also the spawning season, so you will likely catch bass in shallow waters.
In summer, the water temperatures may rise above 75 degrees. Bass prefer the shallow water during the early morning and late evening hours but move to deeper, cooler water in the afternoons. You can also find them near ledges and drop-offs or shaded spots.
When the water temperature starts to drop in fall, you can locate bass in shallow water. In preparation for winter, these fish actively seek out bait, and you will get more bites during this time.
Other than water temp, does air temperature affect bass fishing? Not really, because fluctuating air temperature changes have minimal effect on large water bodies. But it can generate a domino effect. You see, warm air temperature spikes insect activity, causing increased activity in other small fish that are members of the food chain. When the small fish become active, bass also become well-fed.
Bass Fishing Below 40 Degree Water
These freezing temperatures are too cold for catching bass. Bass stop feeding at this point, and you have to directly present the bait close to them for a strike. Do not expect the fish to chase the lure.
The best baits in this cold water temperature are jerkbaits, jigging spoons, slow-rolled spinnerbaits, a small blade bait, a Carolina rig, or a hair jig. Drop these baits in the deep water column, hoping it is close enough to the fish.
Bass Fishing in 41-50 Degree Water
This is the water temperature range during early spring and late fall. Bass are usually lethargic and prefer the deeper waters, about 15 feet or more. There is slight movement, but they feed less frequently.
Slow presentation of lures and patience also work best in these temperatures. If fishing in clear water, use swimbaits, jigging spoons, jerkbaits, blade baits, and finesse baits. But get lipless crankbait, flat-sided crankbait, and vibrating jig when fishing in murky water. You can get started with our recommended best bass fishing rods and reels.
Bass Fishing in 50-60 Degree Water
There is more movement at these temperatures, usually in mid-fall and mid-spring. This is when the fish activity levels increase as they prepare to stock up for or recover from winter. Additionally, with the spawning season around the corner, bass feed heavily to compensate for the energy needed to make their bed. And they may become more aggressive and dispersed.
Some fish remain in the bottom part of the water when the temperatures are between 50 and 55 degrees. But a few start to head out to the spawning ground found in shallower water. This movement makes it easy to fish from the shoreline.
The best baits for these temperatures are shaky head jigs, drop shots, subtle swimbaits, lipless crankbaits, jerkbaits, bladed jigs, and squarebill crankbaits. You can use one of our best spinning reels for bass.
Other fish species also become active in these warm water conditions. Bass follow schools of baitfish like crawfish, red craw, and Toledo gold for easy meals. Spotting schools of baitfish may prove helpful when catching bass.
Bass Fishing in 61-68 Degree Water
Anglers enjoy bass fishing at these temperatures because they strike most baits. Since bass metabolism is high, they actively seek prey and chase after crankbaits and spinners. This is why it is common to find big bass hunting schools of baitfish.
Additionally, bass begin their pre-spawn phase around this time. You may find mature female bass around shallow waters, looking for ideal spawning spots. Bass spawn around the first full moon in spring. Some experts believe that bass use high tidal fluctuations to disperse the eggs.
Shallow-water baits are most effective at these water temperatures and should be presented with motion to entice a strike. You can try soft plastics, shallow-floating jerkbaits, buzzbait, ned rigs, swim jigs, and topwater lures.
Bass Fishing in 69-73 Degree Water
Most fish will be in their spawn phase, but some may be in their pre-spawn or post-spawn. If you are out fishing at these temperatures and notice inactivity in the bass, they are likely on their beds. Bass tend to be protective when spawning, so you may need soft plastic bait to aggravate them into biting.
As the temperatures rise to 73 degrees, bass prefer inhabiting areas with cover and structure to escape the intense heat of the summer months. You are more likely to find them around thick vegetation, rock beds, weed beds, and areas with shade. Or, they will retreat to deeper water and hunt in the early or late hours of the day.
Bass Fishing Above 74 Degree Water
Bass are still active in the heart of summer when temperatures rise above 74 degrees. They feed aggressively at dusk and dawn, making these the best fishing windows. And when it gets hot during the day, the fish seek shelter in deeper water or areas with covers.
The preferred largemouth bass water temperature range is between 76 and 80 degrees when they become super-aggressive. This is the perfect time to go deep-water fishing as they strike sinking baits and lures. Check this guide for the best bass fishing rods.
The most effective lures are heavy swimbait, drop shot, deep crankbaits, flutter spoons, hair jigs, football jigs, and big plastics. And you can narrow down the best bass fishing lures by reading this piece.
At times, the water temps rise above 80 degrees. When this happens, bass become inactive and hide in deep water, where it is cooler, and the oxygen levels are stable. Using deep water lures is the key to catching bass at these high temperatures.
Bass also become nocturnal, feeding from dusk to dawn when temperatures exceed 80 degrees. Should you plan a night fishing trip, use darker, bulky lures to entice bass through water displacement and vibrations. Here are our best bass baitcasting rods for the job.
Seasonal Water Temperature Guide for Bass
Seasons change the water temperature and bass behavior. Cold water in winter lowers the bass’ body temperature, reducing their feeding frequency and physical activity. Due to these limitations, these fish scavenge for food and even eat dead fish or mammals.
Warm water temperatures in spring and early summer encourage bass movement. Bass move to shallower water to start spawning behavior. Their diet in these seasons includes aquatic insects, insect larvae, crayfish, frogs, and small fish.
As the temperatures increase in mid-summer, bass feed more aggressively at dawn and dusk. They mainly eat insects, crustaceans, and small fish. Moving baits are highly effective on these active fish.
And as soon as the temperatures start to drop in fall, bass change their feeding behavior, eating more in preparation for winter ahead. Cooler water increases their metabolism, and they eat insects, frogs, and small baitfish.
What is the extreme water temp to catch bass? Temperatures below 40 degrees are too cold for bass fishing. In fact, they become lethargic, and some die from cold. Getting bass to bite at these cold temperatures is extremely tough.
On the other hand, temperatures above 80 degrees are too hot to catch bass. The fish get heat stressed and go deep into the water to cool off.
In short, the best water temperature for bass fishing is 65 to 74 degrees.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. Weather changes and storms affect bass fishing. You will likely catch more bass before a storm due to the rapid drop in barometric pressure. Once the storm hits, many species hide, but the spotted bass has been known to continue feeding. After the storm passes, the fish remain inactive until the air pressure stabilizes.
You can also go fishing after heavy rain in the summer months. Rain carries worms and insects into the water as food for small fish, while bass prey on the smaller fish. In addition, rain aerates the water, increasing the fish’s activity.
Water temperatures below 50 degrees are cold, and it gets extreme when temperatures dip below 40 degrees. The fish become less active and feed less. So, plan your fishing trip when the water temperature ranges between 65 and 74 degrees.