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The Angler’s Guide to Guadalupe Bass

While you may be used to fishing the Guadalupe bass in Texas, there’s more to this fish than a tasty meal.

a fisherman fishing for guadalupe bass

Here’s everything you need to know: 

Species Description

The Guadalupe Bass, native to Texas, is a rare and threatened species. Although called a “bass”, it is a member of the sunfish family.

A small but mighty fish with distinctive markings, the Guadalupe Bass is prized not for its size but its beauty.

They are an excellent sporting fish, enjoyed by many anglers and revered by many Texans.

How to Identify

The Guadalupe Bass is a small fish (12 inches and 1 pound in adulthood) that is sometimes difficult to distinguish from the largemouth or spotted bass.

Like most black bass, the Guadalupe Bass is olive green with a white underside. It has a small mouth and a black, diamond-shaped pattern on its side, as well as spots on its belly.  

History

The Guadalupe Bass is the official state fish of Texas. It has struggled since introducing the smallmouth bass in Central Texas streams and reservoirs in 1974 to increase fishing opportunities.

In some areas, the species does not exist anymore. Conservationists continue to work hard to ensure the species maintains a strong population in the ecosystem as they are both ecologically important and a symbol of state pride. 

World Record

The world record for a Guadalupe Bass catch is 17 inches and 3.71 pounds. The man responsible for such a feat is Dr. Bryan Townsend of Austin.

He was fly-fishing at the Colorado River in February of 2014 when he reeled in this monster of a fish.

Before that, the Guadalupe Bass world record was 3.11 pounds and was caught back in 1983 by Allen Christenson, Jr. in Lake Travis. 

Life Cycle

The Guadalupe Bass reaches maturation at one year, and its natural lifespan is about seven years.

Spawning, the process in which fish reproduce, occurs between March and June. The female lays up to 9,000 eggs and is then chased away by the male, who stands guard.

Unlike other basses, Guadalupe Bass can sometimes reproduce again in the fall or late summers.

Habitat

These stream-born basses appreciate cold, covered, shallow, flowing, well-oxygenated areas with stumps and rocks for refuge.

Since preferred environments are relatively small, they can only grow so large as a species. 

Thus, catching a Guadalupe Bass larger than a foot is rare. As Guadalupe Bass gets older, they may appreciate a deeper, more moderate current.

Although this species prefers clear water and consistent temperatures between 50-86 °F or 10-30 °C, they can be tolerant of more murky waters and varying temperatures.  

Diet

Guadalupe Bass feeding habits depend on age or maturation. For example, they feed on invertebrates (such as insects) as babies and eat fish, crawfish, worms, and insect larvae as they get older.

In old age, they may revert back to eating mainly invertebrates. 

Threats

The population of Guadalupe Bass has decreased dramatically in recent years. Interestingly, even though Guadalupe Bass is a threatened species, it has almost no predators.

The threat comes from water levels, pollution, and hybridization. State officials introduced purebred Guadalupe Bass back into the ecosystem to restore the population and it has helped sustain the species.

Anglers should catch and release this species. However, harvesting five per day is allowed. 

How to Catch

The Guadalupe Bass is an agile fish that can provide hours of fun. They are hard to catch because of their ability to use the current against the angler.

Since they are a protected species, you can only catch Guadalupe Bass with a pole and line. 

Spin casting, topwater fishing, and using a bait cast reel are the best methods to catch this fish.

Guadalupe Bass are eager to take a fly and respond well to fast-moving bait. Be sure to have deer-hair bugs, poppers, sliders, underwater spinners, topwater lures, and terrestrials in your arsenal. 

Where to Catch

You can find Guadalupe Bass in streams and reservoirs or flowing waters. This species singularly resides in central Texas.

Specifically, you can find them in the rivers east and north of Edwards Plateau, including the Guadalupe River, the San Antonio River, the Colorado River, the Nueces River, and the Brazos River. 

While you can catch them in many spots throughout the river, they like to hang out in the feeding lanes of fast waters.  

How to Eat

Since Guadalupe Bass have sacred status, they tend to be released back into the ecosystem instead of consumed.

However, as smallmouth, spotted bass, they are pretty tasty and are great for grilling or frying.

Some people choose to roast the whole fish if they don’t mind the “fishy” taste. It doesn’t take very long to cook, whatever method you choose, and is rich with omega-3 fatty acids.    

Final Thoughts

Always be on the lookout for a guadalupe bass when you’re fishing in Texas! These types of bass are fun to catch and great to eat so go ahead and get after them!

Rocco Smith

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