In central Illinois bass will usually start to bed in late April - May. I’ve seen them on beds as early as the first weekend of April (on Kinkaid Lake in Southern Illinois) and as late as first weekend in June is some ponds around the St. Louis area (Illinois side of the river).
Bass typically spawn when water temps hit about 55-65; last year that didn’t happen until the 2nd week of May.
they only spawn once a year up here for the most part BH, so our bed fishing is mostly in spring like Flyman said. once they start hitting a topwater, its just about right for them to be on the beds. i leave them alone then. Where i fish, need all the fry that can survive to repopulate the ponds, so i don’t interrupt any spawning activities.
i hear ya, unless im in a tournament i leave them alone also except just to practice to keep the touch. A lot of times i don’t even use a hook. i love watching them get mad. when they spin around and stare down my bait just before they crush it is awsome. BH
I was fishing on a private pond about 10 years ago and the bass were on the beds. I caught one bass 4 times. Saw him there (I believe it was the male guarding the eggs) and threw a Senko style lure at him - he pounded it. I let him go and he swam straight back to the nest; I threw in again and he pounded it again. We walked away and came back about 2hrs later - he was still there - I threw at him again and he hammered it again. Like the first time, I just let him go and he swam right back to the nest; threw at him one more time and again he didn’t even hesitate - just pounded that stick bait as soon as it started falling on the nest.
I caught a smallmouth like that, I had her hooked and she threw the hook on one of the 100 jumps, I opened my bail and let the drop shot fall back down and she crushed the bait before it hit bottom. It was a bed fish.