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Spotted Bass vs. Largemouth Bass: All You Need to Know

There are over 20,000 species of fish in the sea (and that’s just the ones that we know about…) so it is not surprising that some fish have many similarities, leaving people very confused when trying to tell the difference between them. 

a largemouth bass jumping out of the water

Two fish that are notorious when it comes to people mixing them up and confusing them for each other are the spotted bass and the largemouth bass. These two fish have some notable similarities, meaning people often catch one and mistake it for the other, and vice versa. 

In this article, we are going to be exploring exactly what a spotted bass is, and looking at the characteristics of the largemouth bass. As well as this, we will be telling you how you can distinguish between them if you ever come across one! 

holding a largemouth bass

This means that if you reel one in and aren’t quite sure if it is a spotted bass or largemouth then you can refer back to this article to find some differences in their appearances that will tell you exactly which is which. 

What is a Spotted Bass? 

A spotted bass is a species of freshwater fish belonging to the sunfish family – their genus is Micropterus. They are of the larger order of the Perciformes.

Spotted Bass Isolated on a Black Background

Micropterus is also known as black bass, and so a spotted bass is technically a type of black bass. Its species name is known as M. punctulatus. They are native to America and have also been introduced to some parts of southern Africa.

The states in which they are most commonly found include the Mississippi river basin, all Gulf states from Texas to the panhandle of Florida, the Mid Atlantic states, and it has even been introduced in Virginia and North Carolina. 

The spotted bass can reach some pretty impressive heights, measuring up to 25 inches in total. It can weigh up to around 11 pounds and can live for seven years at least but it is common to find them much older than this. 

person holding a spotted bass

They are prized as game fish and are very often fished for sport. They are also fished for food and enjoyed by people in the States that they are native to. 

The record for the largest caught spotted bass is 10.27 pounds. They live in cool and warm waters, preferring streams in the mountains and reservoirs that have rocky bottoms.

The reason for this is because of their diets. They feast on the likes of frogs, crustaceans, annelid worms, insects, and small fish. 

What is a Largemouth Bass? 

The largemouth bass is yet another member of the sunfish family (known as the Centrarchidae, and like the spotted bass, also belongs to the genus Micropterus. This tells us that they are closely related.

 Big Bass Large mouth - Fishing on lake with blue sky at dawn, sunrise

However, it is a different species known as M. salmoides, and is native to different areas than the spotted bass. 

You may find it living natively in North Mexico, Southeast Canada, the eastern and central US states, and in other places in the US. 

However, it has also been widely introduced to other states within the US. It is also the state fish of many US states including Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. Of course, these are all places where you may also find the spotted bass

The fish can reach a maximum height (or should that be length…) of 29.5 inches, and has been known to weigh up to 25 pounds! This makes it a hefty weighted fish!  They can also live for longer than the spotted bass, with a lifespan of between 10 to 16 years! 

person holding largemouth bass that they caught

The older the largemouth bass, the deeper into the water it lies. As such you can expect to find it feeding on various things. Younger largemouth bass eats baitfish, scuds, shrimp, water fleas, copepods, and insects. 

However, the adult fish eat a diet that consists of small fish including bluegill, minnows, and killifish. They also eat frogs, snakes, salamanders, bats, turtle hatchlings, alligator hatchlings, crawfish, and even waterbirds and mammals! 

The older and longer they get, the bigger their prey and the most mature adult largemouth bass often eat catfish, walleye, trout, and smaller black bass that are around 50% of their own body length. 

As such, it is not surprising to know that largemouth bass is seen as a type of predatory carnivore. 

largemouth bass fishing near dayton ohio

The largemouth bass is a much-desired catch for keen anglers because of its size and ‘fight’ drive, plus a lot of people like to take them back home for dinner. They resist the catch and so it can be seen as a sort of competition for anglers.

However, it is strongly encouraged by many angling organizations that anglers practice catch and release techniques with largemouth bass, especially the bigger catches as these are often breeding females. 

How Can You Tell a Spotted Bass From a Largemouth Bass?

The best way to tell a spotted bass apart from a largemouth bass is to inspect the mouth closely. Whilst the spotted bass looks a lot like the largemouth bass in terms of coloration, the mouth of the largemouth bass is (as you hopefully have guessed) much larger. 

largemouth bass habitat

The jaw of a largemouth bass extends way behind the eye sockets, whereas the mouth of the spotted bass is much smaller and does not extend that far back. As well as this, there are some size differences between them.

Typically you can expect largemouth basses to be much bigger than spotted bass. Closely inspect their height and weight. Of course, this is not always a reliable way of telling them apart as some largemouths can be small and some spotted bass bigger. 

Keen anglers may also tell you that spotted bass can be more aggressive than their larger counterparts, so if you have a particularly aggressive bass on your hands it may well be a spotted bass.

largemouth bass in a pond

On the other hand, if your bass is going to great lengths to resist capture, then it may be a largemouth as they like to put up a fight. 

Final Thoughts

Those are all of the differences between these two popular freshwater gamefish. Spotted bass and largemouth bass are very similar fish, but they are not the same.

Hopefully, this guide will have cleared up any confusion you may have had!

Don’t forget to check out some helpful tips when it comes to catching bass! And let us know in the comments which one you prefer between the two!

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