Riddle me this - fishing over spawning beds?


Active Member
Billy's thread on why bass fishermen spend way more on lures than fly fishermen spend on flies got me thinking about another subject. Why does it seem to be ok for bass fishermen to fish for bass on their spawning beds, but it is unethical for fly fishermen to fish for salmon or trout on their spawning beds? Why is one ok and one not?

Scott Salzer

previously micro brew
Bk - they are or their.

I think Starman has a good point. But, bass do not hold the same status as other fish. I grew up fishing bass. We fished evening/night and never targeted beds, no need to, there were plenty of opportunities without hitting beds.



Active Member
It does seem like there is a lot of debate about this question in the bass fishing world.

I wonder if it’s because bass stick around to guard fertilized eggs while salmon and trout do their deed and are gone. Meaning, the bass eggs are fertilized already in most cases, so catching the adult just means they’re unguarded potentially. Yanking a steelhead off a bed probably means the deed has not been accomplished?

Rob Allen

Active Member
I am not sure it is ok to fish for bass on their beds. It is commonplace but that doesn't make it ok. Based on the relative health of bass fisheries nationwide i think it's reasonable to say it doesn't do much harm.
Salmon are using the last energy they have trying to reproduce hooking one at that time might prevent it from reproducing.
Mostly it's cultural it is the epitome of slimbaggery to fish salmon trout or steelhead on spawning beds. It is only recently that this has been up for debate.
I personally don't target bass too often on the spawn. Panfish are surprisingly swift to eat eggs when a bass it being landed. A member on here showed me a video of 2 very large LM bass on a next doing their thing in about half a foot of water on lake WA right on a popular fishing dock. Gone the very next day, probably made a great meal.


Coast to Coast
I believe that in some states where bass are a "big ticket" fish they actually close the season during the nesting period to protect the bass and keep people from fishing them on their beds. Or maybe they used to.

In my opinion nobody cares about fishing bass over their spawning beds in this region because, in the grand scheme of things, no one cares about bass around here. I think its as simple as that.

Before anyone jumps on me saying they care about bass, I enjoy fishing for bass occasionally too. I've had a lot of fun sight fishing smallmouth while they're nesting. Like Billy, I haven't noticed it having any effect on the numbers in the lake I fish. I don't think the fish get enough pressure around here to make a difference.
I believe there was a study done by the University of Florida on this subject. Although fishing for bass on beds has a negative affect, it wasn't detrimental to the population overall.

Skip Enge

Active Member
Chum salmon...short spawners...legal to fish for? yup! Should you? maybe not. I have in a coastal stream. Warned by a regional Fish and Game agent that I could be cited for fish harassment. Haven't since. Murkey at best.


Active Member
recreational gill Nets!
Yes, that would irritate me. Several years back, I found a "recreational" gill net in Upper Frenchman Wasteway (target species - probably carp or bass). But then this thread is about bass and who cares about bass, let alone carp? Other than @b_illymac and old me.

If anyone doesn't think a lot of ethical fly fishers don't target spawning trout, please visit RF when the hens are trying to spawn.
If anyone doesn't think a lot of ethical fly fishers don't target spawning trout, please visit RF when the hens are trying to spawn.
I wouldn't really say RF is filled with ethical fly fishers. :rolleyes:

But considering how much of it happens in places where there is year-around season, it's clear that lots of people--and guides--will target spawning trout too.

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