When the water temperature and amount of daylight gets right, male bass head to shallow water to build beds. They "fan" out a spot on the bottom with their tails to remove loose silt and debris. These spots are usually near some kind of cover, beside a stump or under a bush. Hard sandy bottoms are preferred, but bass will bed almost anywhere, including on top of stumps.
I have heard female bass will find a log or stump in deeper water near the bedding areas and stay around it while the males are building the nest. They will rub the wood and bump their sides into it, like they are trying to loosen the eggs inside them in preparation for laying them.
At some perfect point, female bass head into the shallows to find the males on the beds. Some will drop all their eggs in one nest for the male to fertilize, others will visit several nests, leaving eggs in each. Many of the females guard the nests with the males, others don't stay on any nest more than a few hours. After laying the eggs, the females are exhausted and some die from the stress. They all tend to head back to deeper water and spend several days recovering. They hardly eat during this time.
Males guard the nest, trying to run off bream and other creatures that eat bass eggs. They will also guard the fry for a few days after they hatch. This process takes about a week. After the male does all that work and then leaves his offspring, he will often come back and feed on them!
Some pro bass fishermen have perfected the technique of bothering a bass on the bed until it hits. I have never had the patience to do this. It may take hours and then the bass hits lightly and you often loose them. The bass are not feeding so you have to make them mad enough to bump the bait. That is about the only way to catch a bass while they are hard on the beds. You can catch them if you are patient enough.
In some states fishing season for bass is closed during the spawn. Some fishermen refuse to fish for bedding bass, thinking it hurts the bass population.
Fortunately, on big lakes not all the bass bed at the same time. Different areas of the lake will have different temperatures and water clarity and bass differ individually to some extent on when they will spawn. Bass will spawn in central Georgia from late February during warm winters into mid summer of most years. The heaviest spawning tends to take place during the full moon in April.
If you can't catch a bass, look for beds. You can always blame your lack of luck on the spawn. That is the excuse I use!
Sometimes you can see big bass cruising the shallows. They usually will not touch anything thrown at them. They often do not get spooked, they just will not hit. I think they are females looking for beds as they cruise the shallows. It seems silly to cast to a place where a fish might be, hoping an imagined bass will bite, when the ones you can see and cast to will not hit! Don't get too frustrated fishing for bedding bass!
Have you ever fished for bedding bass? What are your experiences? Tell me about it. Do you have some fishing stories related to trying to catch bass on the bed? If so, you can also post information about it for others on my message board - you must register to post but can read the board as a guest.