Largemouth Bass: Description, Habitat, Diet and Fishing Tips
Largemouth bass is a popular sport fish in the USA and neighboring countries. It has a native range from eastern and central US, southeastern Canada, and northern Mexico; for the past few hundred years, people have introduced it widely. The largemouth bass plays a vital role in the fishing industry, particularly in Texas.
Largemouth Bass Quick Overview
If you’re looking to catch some largemouth bass, it’s good to know that four states recognize this species as their official state fish: Georgia, Mississippi, Florida, and Alabama. But even if your state doesn’t officially recognize the largemouth bass, they still make great gamefish.
Description and Identification
- Appearance: A largemouth bass is olive green or gray, with dark blotches scattered across its body. These fish can grow large, making them easy to identify when fishing.
- Size: The average length of a largemouth bass is around 15 inches (38 cm). The longest recorded length is 25 inches (64 cm).
- Sexual Dimorphism: Interestingly, females are typically larger than males in the largemouth bass species, which makes it easier for experienced anglers to differentiate between genders.
- World Record: The world record for the largest ever caught largemouth bass weighed 22 lb 4 oz (10.1 kg). Manabu Kurita caught it in July 2009 from Lake Biwa, Japan.
- Lifespan: the species can live for 10-16 years.
Regarding habitat, largemouth bass prefers clear, quiet water with minimal current and cover such as logs, rock ledges, vegetation, and man-made structures. You can usually find them in vegetated lakes, ponds, swamps, backwaters of pools, creeks, and rivers. And when it comes to spawning areas, they need a firm bottom of sand, mud, or gravel.
There are two stages to consider when it comes to the diet of largemouth bass.
First, juveniles feed on small baitfish, scuds, water fleas, and copepods. Second, adult largemouth bass prey on other animals that are relatively large – up to 50% of their body length or more. These predators will hunt for smaller fish like shad, worms, snails, crawfish, frogs, and newts.
Reproduction and Spawning
When it’s time for spawning season, largemouth bass reach sexual maturity and build nests.
Male largemouth bass takes charge of this process and are responsible for building the nest and guarding it until the eggs hatch. It is a critical part of their species’ survival and an incredible sight.
You should be sure you have your camera ready if you’re lucky enough to spot them during this time of year.
Largemouth Bass vs. Other Bass Species
Largemouth bass is a widespread species of freshwater fish in North America. Their size and distinctive black stripe along the sides distinguish them from other bass species.
If you plan on fishing for largemouth bass, be aware that they behave differently from smallmouth and spotted bass. Smallmouth bass tends to stay near deeper waters, while largemouth bass like to lurk around shallow weed beds. Spotted bass feeds more actively during the day, whereas largemouth bass feed at night. So make sure you adjust your approach accordingly.
Reeling in a largemouth bass is exhilarating; with the proper techniques, you can maximize your odds of success. Here are some of the fishing techniques you can use.
When it comes to artificial bait, many different types work well for largemouth bass:
- Soft plastic worms imitate small critters that bass feed on.
- Jigs and crankbaits also make good choices because they entice bass with their movement.
- Spinnerbaits, swimbaits, and swim jigs all add extra appeal for bass.
- Live bait can also be effective when pursuing largemouth bass.
- Minnows, frogs, crawfish, nightcrawlers, earthworms, golden shiners, lizards, baby water birds, and baitfish are all popular live baits for bass.
Depending on the season and location, you may find that certain live baits yield more catches than others. Experimenting to determine what works best in your situation would be best.
Try various bait options to increase your chances of successfully catching largemouth bass.
Largemouth Bass as a Meal: Can you eat it?
Can you eat largemouth bass? The answer is a resounding yes. Largemouth bass has a mild flavor and firm texture, making it an ideal choice for preparing delicious meals. When cooked, the meat of the largemouth bass tastes slightly sweet and flakes easily off the bone. You can enjoy it fried, grilled, steamed, or smoked.
For those who have never tried this type of fish, its mild flavor will make it easy to include in almost any recipe – from tacos to casseroles to salads. I love making a simple blackened version with fresh herbs and spices. The key is to use high-quality ingredients that won’t overpower the delicate flavor of the largemouth bass.
The bass is a nutritious meal, low in fat, calories, and cholesterol yet rich in protein, essential vitamins, and minerals like niacin, selenium, phosphorus, and B12. Plus, it’s an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to help reduce inflammation and have many health benefits.
This fish is an excellent choice for your next dinner. Healthy fish with a mild flavor and firm texture – what else could you ask for?
Invasive Species, Management and Conservation
The largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) is an invasive species, and its introduction into many regions and countries due to its popularity has caused considerable damage to native fish populations. The problem arises because of predation and competition for resources, with the particular danger posed to the fry of native species such as salmon and trout in colder waters.
For example, in Guatemala, the largemouth bass is believed to be responsible for the extinction of the Atitlan grebe. Furthermore, evidence suggests that the introduction of bass and bluegill into farm ponds has caused a significant increase in benthic organisms.
Similarly, since 1996 there have been sharp decreases in native fish populations in Japan, especially bitterling.
Also, illegal introductions of largemouth bass into northern waters are a significant concern in Maine, with potential risks including depleting existing fish populations and bringing new diseases or pollutants.
To prevent further introductions, all stakeholders must work together. For those wishing to participate in sport fishing management to catch largemouth bass, sustainable practices should be followed, including regulations limiting the size and number of harvested each season and limits on using specific fishing gear in the areas that have them, like in Southern Maine.
Moreover, legal harvesting is encouraged to remove smaller fish from the population, reducing competition for food/space and allowing larger fish to thrive while increasing the total weight of remaining fish.