Fish Facts » Largemouth Bass
The largemouth bass has a large, slightly sloping mouth. Its body is slender to robust, slightly compressed laterally, and oval in cross section. The corner of the mouth extends past the eye, hence its common name. The two recognized subspecies of the largemouth bass are the northern largemouth (Micropterus salmoides salmoides) and the Florida largemouth (Micropterus salmoides floridanus). The back and head are dark green to light green in color with lighter sides and a whitish belly and underside of the head. A prominent lateral stripe may be seen running from the snout through eye to the base of the tail. Towards the tail, there is a series of blotches of varying size. These blotches evolve into a solid, even stripe on the caudal peduncle. The eye is golden brown. Vertical fins lightly pigmented, paired fins generally clear; caudal fin alike in young and adult. Adults from mud-bottom lakes are dark olive brown to black, with markings hardly distinguishable. Males in breeding condition tend to be darker in overall color.
The largemouth bass lives in all types of water, including swamps, ponds, lakes, reservoirs, creeks and large rivers. The bass can even be found in estuaries. It prefers weedy oxbows and clears floodplain lakes. Since it is generally a warm water (81-86°F, (27.2°-30°C)) fish, it is seldom found at depths of more than 18.8 feet. During the winter, largemouth bass generally will move into deeper waters. In the spring, largemouth's migrate into bays that have warmed up sooner than that of the main body of water. During the day, largemouth bass may cruise above aquatic plants at depths of 3.1-9.4 ft, or lie under lily pads or in the shade of overhanging trees, piers, or brush. In the evening hours, largemouth bass tend to move into shallow water to feed. After night falls, they return to deeper water, where they rest on the bottom under logs or trees. In cold temperate climates, largemouth bass generally move into deeper waters during the winter months followed by movement to warmer, shallow waters in the springtime.
Largemouth bass may consume small fish, insects, mosquitoes, blackfly larvae, mayfly nymphs, worms, adult insects, mussels, crayfish, snails, tadpoles, frogs, small fish, salamanders, mice, turtles. In general largemouth bass feed at all hours, but most often in the early morning or late in the day. In some cases, the prey is not completely swallowed up initially; it is caught and held in the jaws and then it is sucked in.
The largemouth bass is among the most sought after species of freshwater game fish in the world. Due to its broad range and popularity as a sport fish, numerous fishing methods have been devised to catch this fish. Numerous artificial lures have been developed to entice these fish into biting including plastic worms, jigs, plugs, and spinners. Among the most exciting methods of fishing for the largemouth bass involves surface plugs which can incite vicious strikes on the surface where they are visible to the angler. Live bait fishing is also popular among bass fishers. Night crawlers, leeches, crawfish, and minnows are all commonly used live baits in different regions of the U.S. Evening and morning times are usually the best times when fishing for the largemouth bass. The largemouth's liking for heavy cover makes it a challenge to land. A hooked largemouth usually heads for the surface, the opens it mouth wide, shaking its head or jumping in an attempt to throw, or get rid, of the hook. Once it has done this, it will dive under the cover and begin to wrap the line around logs and weeds located in the water. Largemouth bass flesh is moderately firm and has a mild flavor. If taken from lakes where the predominant cover is weeds, the flesh may have a grassy taste.
The average length is 18 inches but the largemouth bass may attain a length of 24 inches or more. The world record largemouth bass was caught in Montgomery Lake, Georgia in 1932. The fish weighed 22 pounds, 4 ounces (10.09 kg).
This bass is one of the most widely distributed fishes in the world. This is due in large part to the popularity of bass as a sport fish which has lead to the introduction of largemouth bass populations into many areas where they are not native. Their current range includes the U.S., South Africa, Europe, Guam, Japan, Lebanon, New Zealand, and the Philippines. The original range of the largemouth bass is most of the eastern half of the United States, however it is now found generally in the majority of the United States, including swamps, ponds, lakes, reservoirs, creeks and large rivers.
Florida Museum of Natural History
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