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8.13 Weight in pounds of the Georgia state-record spotted bass

22.25 Weight in pounds of the state-record largemouth bass

40,000 Eggs a female bass may lay in a single spawning season

The recent above-average temperatures might make anglers forget that this spring has been unseasonably cold and windy. That cooler, unsettled weather pushed back the bass spawn in North Georgia reservoirs.

The fish ordinarily are building beds as early as late April, but only now are moving to the shallows to spawn. The recent spate of warming weather seems finally to have the largemouth and spotted bass in a bedding mood.

Largemouths move near the shore into 1 to 3 feet of water during the spawn, but spotted bass usually bed in deeper water of 5 to 8 feet. Knowing which species is prevalent in a lake is a key to finding the spawners.

Smaller ponds in our region only hold largemouths. The spotted bass originally were native to rivers, but have adapted to living in large, rock-filled reservoirs in North Georgia.

Lakes Allatoona and Lanier contain roughly 80 percent spotted bass today. The largemouths are found in the upper ends of both impoundments.

Lake Jackson to the southeast has a bass fishery composed of 50 percent spotted bass.

Randy Poynter Lake in Rockdale County and Lake Varner in Newton County are smaller reservoirs in metro Atlanta. Both lakes have only largemouths.

Spotted and largemouth bass are vulnerable to anglers during the spawn for a couple of reasons. They are easily located in the shallow water, and the smaller males are very aggressive in protecting bedding areas.

Larger females are harder to catch once they get on the bed. They are not particularly interested in feeding, but will strike to protect their beds.

Releasing any of the females that are hooked is a good conservation move. Allowing them to finish the spawn ensures more bass for future fishing.