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Largemouth Bass: Everything You Need to Know

holding a largemouth bass

Micropterus salmoides are otherwise commonly referred to as the largemouth bass or green bass. It’s known for a jaw that extends far beyond the eye, making it easily identifiable among other species. 

 

The color is a shade of green on each side and the back, but the underbelly is white, and there is typically a stripe of a darker tone running horizontally along the side. These belong to the sunfish or Centrarchidae family, of which not all bass are part. 

 

bass eating a minnow

 

The standard growth process for the species is as much as 8 inches in their first year, and they will add another 6 inches in their second year. By the third year, some can grow as much as 18-20 inches or more. 

 

The reported record for the oldest known largemouth is 23 years old, and for weight in the species is 22 pounds. The longest on record comes in at 38.2 inches. But the world record traces back to 1932, weighing 22 lbs 4 oz only to be tied in 2009 in Japan with a bass the same size.

 

Historical Facts About The Largemouth Bass

fisherman holding a largemouth bass

The largemouth bass is more of a solitary creature. If a few gather around a surplus of food, that’s as much interaction as these fish will share. These are known predators among their species who prefer to jump out from a hiding place to attack their unknowing prey. 

 

These species have an incredible sense of smell, allowing them to follow a scent to narrow down their food search. The fish are exceptionally aggressive and strike if they believe something is living. 

 

Babies smaller than 2” are referred to as “fry” and avoid prey but instead enjoy insect larvae or zooplankton. They won’t become predatory until they exceed the 2” mark.  

 

A female is generally larger than the male of comparable age. Anglers who hook the larger fish are encouraged to release these specimens because these are typically females breeding, which contributes to the fishing stock in the future. The fish is unhappy in captivity, preferring its life in the wild.

 

bass jumping out of water

 

Life Cycle

Spawning starts when the waters reach a temperature of approximately 62 degrees Fahrenheit. The male adult largemouth bass is the one responsible for getting the nest ready for babies. These typically get placed under the water at a depth of approximately 5 feet. The female can lay her eggs once the nest is complete. 

 

She can have as few as 2000 up to as many as tens of thousands of eggs. The male will stand over the eggs until they hatch, after which they will remain in the nest for merely one week. 

 

The fry, which babies are known as until they grow above 2”, will be in “brood swarm,” or school for as long as three weeks, again guarded by dad. These species don’t stop growing until death, meaning the older the fish is, the larger it will be.

 

largemouth bass in a pond

 

Habitat

Largemouth bass has been exported widely to locations globally due to the billion-dollar sport-fishing industry and has adapted well to a variety of habitats. But the preference for this bass is calm, quiet, and warmer waters. 

 

You can find them living in ponds, rivers, lakes, streams, and reservoirs. They tend to have a sensitivity to the light, making them more active in the early morning and later in the afternoon when the sun is not so intense. During the winter, the fish will go to deeper waters. They like to hang out near aquatic plants, around logs, or lie under lily pads or the overhangs of trees, brush, or piers.

 

The largemouth serves as state fish for Mississippi and Georgia. It is Florida and Alabama’s “freshwater” state symbol. Tennessee has designated the bass as their official sport species.

 

largemouth bass habitat

 

Threats To The Species

Typically, the largemouth bass is the top predator in most habitats, but the larva and the fry can find danger from walleye, yellow perch, and musky, northern pike, and water birds like kingfishers or blue herons. With the adults standing guard and considering their speed, size, and the protectant dorsal spines, it’s unlikely there will be a problem – except:

 

  • Parasites: One of the primary threats for bass is the tapeworm, a known danger for the reproductive organs with sterilization as the outcome. One of the most common of these pests is the “ectoparasitic protozoan.
  • The “Saprolegnia” fungus can strike dead eggs.
  • Common for largemouth bass are copepods, leeches, tapeworms, protozoa, flatworms, and roundworms.

 

 

How To Catch The Largemouth Bass

The largemouth bass is a particularly sought out species, with part of the excitement being the show the fish puts on for the angler. The bass will engage in a vigilant fight complete with becoming airborne in its effort to shake the hook. 

 

In attracting the fish, lures like plastic baits (worms), crankbaits, jigs, or spinnerbaits are typically successful. The current draw is swimbaits in luring “trophy” species for those that are of a larger size. 

 

In some cases, live bait is useful like crawfish, minnows, frogs, nightcrawlers, or earthworms. The suggestion is to use golden shiners of substantial size, which boast the ability to attract trophy bases, particularly those who are lethargic from the summer heat or chilled by winter.

 

catching bass with lures

 

Where To Catch

You can find bass in almost any river, lake, pond and stream in North America.  No matter where you catch the fish or where you find them, it has become the most popular sporting species around the globe. Distribution took place in several locations where the bass did not initially occur. 

 

Distribution originally went throughout areas in the United States. Many found their way into Texas lakes and rivers, with a few throughout northeast Mexico and the southeast of Canada.

 

Growth in the sporting industry introduced the species globally, with distribution throughout most of Mexico and into South and Central America. Two subspecies, the native and the Floridian live in Texas.

Largemouth have also been transplanted around the globe even as far as Japan.

bass hiding under structure

 

How To Eat Bass?

The largemouth bass as an entree is not a species that most catch specifically for eating because, as a whole, they don’t necessarily taste good. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t make a dish to your liking.

 

The suggestion is to ensure that you fish in an area where the water is clear of any pollutants and avoid searching in ponds or canals. From anglers’ point of view, a bass will taste like the water it comes from, so you want it to derive from clear water that is free of odor and in the colder months. During summer, when algae is in bloom or fish caught from unclean waters will likely taste comparable to mud. 

 

A fish caught from the best water under ideal conditions will be more likely to have a flavor that will agree with your palate and be considered mild in taste. If you prepare it correctly, it should be tender with white fleshy color and flaky. But it kind of boils down to the skill level of the chef.

 

bass fillet cooked

 

Final Thoughts

The largemouth is a strong, dynamic, vigilant, and intelligent bass. This fish is undeniably unique, offering anglers countless hours of fun on the water. Fortunately, many of the anglers are finding that it’s not harmful to the bass to catch and release since many have no desire to eat what equates to an inedible creature. In that way, there will never be a fear of losing such a lovely species.

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