A Closer Look at the Largemouth Bass

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A Little Overview …

The largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoidesis) is one of the most popular freshwater sportfish in most states in the U.S. When you combine its reputation as a fighter, its palatability, and extensive range, it’s easy to understand why.

Its original range was restricted to warmer waters east of the Rocky Mountains, but its reputation as a formidable game fish created a demand for stocking programs from coast to coast extending its present range throughout most of the U.S. and southern Canada.

Like many other game fish, largemouth bass are also referred to by other names such as bucket mouth bass, bigmouth bass, line-side and green bass.

Water Temperature greatly dictates where to find these fish. Cold water (less than 50 degrees F) will mean most of the fish reside in or near deeper water.

Warmer temperatures (greater than 65 degrees F) will get the fish actively feeding in the shallows. It’s those temperatures in the middle (50 to 65 degrees F) when bass behavior is toughest to predict, so some experimentation will be in order.

Largemouth bass spawn in late spring when water temperatures are between 62 and 68 degrees F.

The males build nests in calm sandy or fine gravel areas in less than six feet of water. Females lay between 2,000 and 7,000 eggs per lb. of body weight, however, not necessarily all in the same nest.

The males actively guard the eggs, and later the newly hatched fry. Hatching occurs within 7 to 10 days. Young fish or fry remain on the nest until their yolk sac has been consumed, after which the survivors will then school until reaching about one inch in length.

Largemouth bass typically mature by age four occasionally living upwards of 15 years and sometimes even longer. The typical size for largemouth caught by fishermen ranges from 8 to 15 inches long weighing three pounds or less.  Any largemouth over six pounds is usually considered a trophy in most areas!

Preferred Habitat

Common to almost all water bodies, from the smallest farm ponds, lazy rivers and streams to the largest reservoirs, this fish is indeed highly adaptable.

Largemouth bass prefer calm, or slow moving water often associated with areas of rooted aquatic vegetation and overhead cover.

These bass are definitely cover-oriented game fish. They use cover in the form of rocks, weeds, logs, grass, and ledges – to protect themselves from predators and to ambush food items passing by their hide-out.

Although you might catch the occasional largemouth bass out in open water when schooling on baitfish such as herring and alewives, you will catch many more if you focus on structure during most times of the year.

Forage

Within the fresh water food chain in many areas, the largemouth bass is nearly without rival. A voracious feeder, the largemouth will eat aquatic invertebrates, amphibians, and even small mammals and birds (yup seen that one with my own eyes), but its diet consists mostly of small to medium forage fish and crayfish as available.

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