Largemouth bass

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Largemouth bass
Largemouth.JPG
Largemouth bass fish underwater animal in natural habitat micropterus salmoides.jpg
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Centrarchidae
Genus: Micropterus
Species:
M. salmoides
Binomial name
Micropterus salmoides
(Lacépède, 1802) [2]

The largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) is a carnivorous freshwater gamefish in the Centrarchidae (sunfish) family, a species of black bass native to the eastern and central United States and northern Mexico, but widely introduced elsewhere. [2] It is known by a variety of regional names, such as the widemouth bass, bigmouth bass, black bass, bucketmouth, largies, Potter's fish, Florida bass, Florida largemouth, green bass, bucketmouth bass, Green trout, gilsdorf bass, Oswego bass, southern largemouth and (paradoxically) northern largemouth, LMB. [3] The largemouth bass is the state fish of Georgia [4] and Mississippi, [5] and the state freshwater fish of Florida [6] and Alabama. [7] [8]

Centrarchidae family of fishes

Centrarchidae are a family of freshwater ray-finned fish belonging to the order Perciformes. The type genus is Centrarchus. The centrarchid family comprises 38 species of fish, 34 of which are extant and includes many fish familiar to North Americans, including the rock bass, largemouth bass, bluegill, pumpkinseed, green sunfish, and crappies. All species in the family are native to only North America.

Family is one of the eight major hierarchical taxonomic ranks in Linnaean taxonomy; it is classified between order and genus. A family may be divided into subfamilies, which are intermediate ranks between the ranks of family and genus. The official family names are Latin in origin; however, popular names are often used: for example, walnut trees and hickory trees belong to the family Juglandaceae, but that family is commonly referred to as being the "walnut family".

In biology, a species is the basic unit of classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individuals of the appropriate sexes or mating types can produce fertile offspring, typically by sexual reproduction. Other ways of defining species include their karyotype, DNA sequence, morphology, behaviour or ecological niche. In addition, paleontologists use the concept of the chronospecies since fossil reproduction cannot be examined.

Contents

Description

The largemouth bass is an olive-green to greenish gray fish, marked by a series of dark, sometimes black, blotches forming a jagged horizontal stripe along each flank. [9] The upper jaw (maxilla) of a largemouth bass extends beyond the rear margin of the orbit. [10] In comparison to age, a female bass is larger than a male. [11] The largemouth is the largest of the black basses, reaching a maximum recorded overall length of 29.5 in (75 cm) [12] and a maximum unofficial weight of 25 pounds 1 ounce (11.4 kg). [12] The fish lives 10 to 16 years on average. [13]

Maxilla upper jawbone formed from the fusion of two maxillary bones; includes the frontal portion of the palate of the mouth

The maxilla in animals is the upper fixed bone of the jaw formed from the fusion of two maxillary bones. The upper jaw includes the hard palate in the front of the mouth. The two maxillary bones are fused at the intermaxillary suture, forming the anterior nasal spine. This is similar to the mandible, which is also a fusion of two mandibular bones at the mandibular symphysis. The mandible is the movable part of the jaw.

Orbit (anatomy) cavity or socket of the skull in which the eye and its appendages are situated

In anatomy, the orbit is the cavity or socket of the skull in which the eye and its appendages are situated. Anatomical term created by Gerard of Cremona. "Orbit" can refer to the bony socket, or it can also be used to imply the contents. In the adult human, the volume of the orbit is 30 millilitres, of which the eye occupies 6.5 ml. The orbital contents comprise the eye, the orbital and retrobulbar fascia, extraocular muscles, cranial nerves II, III, IV, V, and VI, blood vessels, fat, the lacrimal gland with its sac and nasolacrimal duct, the eyelids, medial and lateral palpebral ligaments, check ligaments, the suspensory ligament, septum, ciliary ganglion and short ciliary nerves.

Feeding

The juvenile largemouth bass consumes mostly small bait fish, scuds, small shrimp, and insects. Adults consume smaller fish (bluegill, banded killifish), shad, snails, crawfish (crayfish), frogs, snakes, salamanders, bats [14] and even small water birds, mammals, and baby alligators. [15] In larger lakes and reservoirs, adult bass occupy deeper water than younger fish, and shift to a diet consisting almost entirely of smaller fish like shad, yellow perch, ciscoes, shiners, and sunfish. It also consumes younger members of larger fish species, such as catfish, trout, walleye, white bass, striped bass, and even smaller black bass. Prey items can be as large as 50% of the bass's body length or larger.

Bait fish

Bait fish are small fish caught for use as bait to attract large predatory fish, particularly game fish. Species used are typically those that are common and breed rapidly, making them easy to catch and in regular supply. Examples of marine bait fish are anchovies, gudgeon, halfbeaks such as ballyhoo, and scad. Some larger fish such as menhaden, flying fish, or ladyfish may be considered bait fish in some circles, depending on the size of the gamefish being pursued. Freshwater bait fish include any fish of the minnow or carp family (Cyprinidae), sucker family (Catostomidae), top minnows or killifish family (Cyprinodontidae), shad family (Clupeidae), sculpin of the order Osteichthyes and sunfish family (Centrarchidae), excluding black basses and crappies.

Shrimp Decapod crustaceans

The term shrimp is used to refer to some decapod crustaceans, although the exact animals covered can vary. Used broadly, shrimp may cover any of the groups with elongated bodies and a primarily swimming mode of locomotion – most commonly Caridea and Dendrobranchiata. In some fields, however, the term is used more narrowly and may be restricted to Caridea, to smaller species of either group or to only the marine species. Under the broader definition, shrimp may be synonymous with prawn, covering stalk-eyed swimming crustaceans with long narrow muscular tails (abdomens), long whiskers (antennae), and slender legs. Any small crustacean which resembles a shrimp tends to be called one. They swim forward by paddling with swimmerets on the underside of their abdomens, although their escape response is typically repeated flicks with the tail driving them backwards very quickly. Crabs and lobsters have strong walking legs, whereas shrimp have thin, fragile legs which they use primarily for perching.

Bluegill species of fish

The bluegill is a species of freshwater fish sometimes referred to as "bream" or "brim", "sunny", "copper nose", or incorrectly "perch". It is a member of the sunfish family Centrarchidae of the order Perciformes. It is native to North America and lives in streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds. It is commonly found east of the Rockies. It usually hides around, and inside, old tree stumps and other underwater structures. It can live in either deep or very shallow water, and will often move from one to the other depending on the time of day or season. Bluegills also like to find shelter among aquatic plants and in the shade of trees along banks.

Studies of prey utilization by largemouths show that in weedy waters, bass grow more slowly due to difficulty in acquiring prey. Less weed cover allows bass to more easily find and catch prey, but this consists of more open-water baitfish. With little or no cover, bass can devastate the prey population and starve or be stunted. Fisheries managers must consider these factors when designing regulations for specific bodies of water. Under overhead cover, such as overhanging banks, brush, or submerged structure, such as weedbeds, points, humps, ridges, and drop-offs, the largemouth bass uses its senses of hearing, sight, vibration, and smell to attack and seize its prey. Adult largemouth are generally apex predators within their habitat, but they are preyed upon by many animals while young. [16]

Apex predator Predator at the top of a food chain

An apex predator, also known as an alpha predator or top predator, is a predator at the top of a food chain, with no natural predators.

Notably in the Great Lakes Region, Micropterus salmoides along with many other species of native fish have been known to prey upon the invasive round goby (Neogobius melanostomus). Remains of said fish have been found inside the stomachs of largemouth bass consistently. This feeding habit may impact the ecosystem positively, but more research must be conducted to verify this. Note that it is illegal to use Neogobius melanostomus as bait in the Great Lakes Region. [17]

Great Lakes System of interconnected, large lakes in North America

The Great Lakes, also called the Laurentian Great Lakes and the Great Lakes of North America, are a series of interconnected freshwater lakes primarily in the upper mid-east region of North America, on the Canada–United States border, which connect to the Atlantic Ocean through the Saint Lawrence River. They consist of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario. Hydrologically, there are only four lakes, because Lakes Michigan and Huron join at the Straits of Mackinac. The lakes form the Great Lakes Waterway.

Round goby species of fish

The round goby is a euryhaline bottom-dwelling goby of the family Gobiidae, native to central Eurasia including the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. Round gobies have established large non-native populations in the Baltic Sea, several major Eurasian rivers, and the North American Great Lakes.

Spawning

Side view of a living largemouth bass Largemouth-bass-20170129-cropped.jpg
Side view of a living largemouth bass

Largemouth bass usually reach sexual maturity and begin spawning when they are about a year old. [18] Spawning takes place in the spring season when the water temperature first holds steady above 60˚F. In the northern region of the United States, this usually occurs anywhere from late April until early July. In the southern states, where the largest and healthiest specimens typically inhabit, this process can begin in March and is usually over by June. [19] Males create nests by moving debris from the bottom of the body of water using their tails. These nests are usually about twice the length of the males, although this can vary. [18] Bass prefer sand, muck, or gravel bottoms, but will also use rocky and weedy bottoms where there is cover for their nest, such as roots or twigs. [20] After finishing the nest, the males swim near the nest looking for a female to mate with. After one is found, the two bass swim around the nest together, turning their bodies so that the eggs and sperm that are being released will come in contact on the way down to the nest. Bass will usually spawn twice per spring, with some spawning three or four times, although this is not as common. The male will then guard the nest until the eggs hatch, which can take about 2 to 4 days in the southern U.S and Northern Mexico, and slightly longer in the northern part of its Native Range. Finally, depending on the water temperature, the male will stay with the nest until the infant bass are ready to swim out on their own, which can be about two more weeks after they hatch. After this, the male, female, and newborns will switch to more of a summer mode, in which they then focus more on feeding. [18]

Angling

A Largemouth bass caught by an angler Caught largemouth bass.jpg
A Largemouth bass caught by an angler

Largemouth bass are keenly sought after by anglers and are noted for the excitement of their 'fight,' meaning how vigorously the fish resists being hauled into the boat or onto shore after being hooked. The fish will often become airborne in their effort to throw the hook, but many say that their cousin species, the smallmouth bass, is even more aggressive. [21] Anglers most often fish for largemouth bass with lures such as Spinnerbait, plastic worms (and other plastic baits), jigs, crankbaits, and live bait, such as worms and minnows. A recent trend is the use of large swimbaits to target trophy bass that often forage on juvenile rainbow trout in California. Fly fishing for largemouth bass may be done using both topwater and worm imitations tied with natural or synthetic materials. Other live baits, such as frogs or crawfish, can also be productive. In fact, large golden shiners are a popular live bait used to catch trophy bass, especially when they are sluggish in the heat of summer or in the cold of winter. [22] Largemouth bass usually hang around big patches of weeds and other shallow water cover. These fish are very capable of surviving in a wide variety of climates and waters. They are perhaps, one of the World's most tolerant freshwater fish.

The world record largemouth according to the IGFA is shared by Manabu Kurita and George W. Perry. Kurita's bass was caught from Lake Biwa in Japan on July 2, 2009 and weighed 10.12 kg (22 lbs 4 oz.) Perry's bass was caught June 2, 1932 from Montgomery Lake in Georgia and weighed 10.09 kg (22 lbs 4 oz.) This record is shared because the IGFA states a new record must beat the old record by at least 2 ounces. [23]

Strong cultural pressure among largemouth bass anglers encourages the practice of catch and release, especially the larger specimens, mainly because larger specimens are usually breeding females that contribute heavily to future sport fishing stocks. Largemouth bass, respond well to catch and release, with a very high survival rate after release, especially if the fish is handled with care and is loosely hooked in the side or top of the mouth. However, if the fish swallows the hook, survival odds greatly decrease. In these situations, death by hooking can be avoided in most cases by simply leaving the hook in the fishes mouth or by using needlenose plyers to gently wiggle the hook free. Largemouth Bass have a white, slightly mushy meat, lower quality than that of the smallmouth bass, bluegill, yellow perch, crappie or walleye. Small largemouth, of 10-14 inches, can contain higher quality meat, especially during the spring.[ citation needed ]

Invasive species

The largemouth bass has been introduced into many other regions and countries due to its popularity as a sport fish. It causes the decline, displacement or extinctions of species in its new habitat through predation and competition, [24] for example in Namibia. They are also an invasive species in the Canadian province of New Brunswick, and are on the watch list across much of the far Northern US and Canada. In Colder Waters, these fish are often a danger to native fish fry such as Salmon and Trout. [25] They have also been blamed for the extinction of the Atitlan Grebe, a large waterbird which once inhabited Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. [26] In 2011, researchers found that in streams and rivers in the Iberian Peninsula, juvenile largemouth bass were able to demonstrate trophic plasticity, meaning that they were able to adjust their feeding habits to obtain the necessary amount of energy needed to survive. The ability to do such, allows them to be successful as invasive species in relatively stable aquatic food webs. [27] Similarly, a study done in Japan showed that the introduction of both largemouth bass and bluegill into farm ponds have caused increases in the numbers of benthic organisms, resulting from the predation on fishes, crustaceans, and nymphal odonates by the bass. [28] The largemouth bass has been causing sharp decreases in native fish populations in Japan since 1996, especially in bitterling fish in Lake Izunuma-Uchinuma. [29]

Related Research Articles

Bass is a name shared by many species of fish. The term encompasses both freshwater and marine species, all belonging to the large order Perciformes, or perch-like fishes. The word bass comes from Middle English bars, meaning "perch".

<i>Micropterus</i> genus of fishes

Micropterus is a genus of freshwater fish in the sunfish family of order Perciformes. The species of this genus are known as the black bass.

Spotted bass species of fish

The spotted bass, also called spotty, or spots in various fishing communities, is a species of freshwater fish of the sunfish family (Centrarchidae) of the order Perciformes. One of the black basses, it is native to the Mississippi River basin and across the Gulf states, from central Texas through the Florida panhandle. Its native range extends into the western Mid-Atlantic states and it has been introduced into western North Carolina and Virginia. It has also been introduced to southern Africa, where it has become established in some isolated waters. It is often mistaken for the similar and more common largemouth bass.

Smallmouth bass species of fish

The smallmouth bass is a species of freshwater fish in the sunfish family (Centrarchidae) of the order Perciformes. It is the type species of its genus. One of the black basses, it is a popular game fish sought by anglers throughout the temperate zones of North America, and has been spread by stocking—as well as illegal introductions—to many cool-water tributaries and lakes in Canada and more so introduced in the United States. The maximum recorded size is approximately 27 inches and 12 pounds. The smallmouth bass is native to the upper and middle Mississippi River basin, the Saint Lawrence River–Great Lakes system, and up into the Hudson Bay basin. Its common names include smallmouth, bronzeback, brown bass, brownie, smallie, bronze bass, and bareback bass.

Bass fishing activity of angling for the North American gamefish known colloquially as the black bass

Bass fishing is the activity of angling for the North American gamefish known colloquially as the black bass. There are numerous black bass species considered as gamefish in North America, including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass or Kentucky bass, and Guadalupe bass. Black bass are members of the sunfish (Centrarchidae) family.

Pumpkinseed species of fish

The pumpkinseed is a North American freshwater fish of the sunfish family (Centrarchidae) of order Perciformes. It is also referred to as pond perch, common sunfish, punkie, sunfish, sunny, and kivver.

Warmouth Species of fish

The warmouth, is a freshwater fish of the sunfish (Centrarchidae) family that is found throughout the eastern United States. Other local names include molly, redeye, goggle-eye, red-eyed bream, and strawberry perch.

Shoal bass species of fish

The shoal bass is a species of freshwater fish in the sunfish family (Centrarchidae) of order Perciformes. One of the black basses, it is native to subtropical waters in Florida and Georgia. It is also occasionally found in rivers and streams of East Alabama where it has been declared an endangered species and cannot legally be kept if caught by fishermen. Of typical size for a black bass, M. cataractae reaches a maximum recorded length of 24 inches (61 cm) and a maximum published weight of 8 pounds, 12 ounces.

Guadalupe bass species of fish

The Guadalupe bass is a rare species of fish endemic to the U.S. state of Texas, where it also is the official state fish. It is restricted to creeks and rivers, and is listed as Near Threatened. Today, most fly fishermen and anglers practice catch-and-release techniques to improve fish populations. The Guadalupe bass is often difficult to distinguish from the smallmouth bass or spotted bass, and the fish is known to hybridize.

Redbreast sunfish species of fish

The redbreast sunfish is a species of freshwater fish in the sunfish family of order Perciformes. The type species of its genus, it is native to the river systems of eastern Canada and the United States. The redbreast sunfish reaches a maximum recorded length of about 30 cm (12 in), with a maximum recorded weight of 2.3 lb.

Green sunfish species of fish

The green sunfish is a species of freshwater fish in the sunfish family (Centrarchidae) of order Perciformes. A panfish popular with anglers, the green sunfish is also kept as an aquarium fish by hobbyists. They are usually caught by accident, while fishing for other game fish. Green sunfish can be caught with live bait such as nightcrawlers, waxworms, mealworms, and blood worms. Grocery store baits such as pieces of hot dog or corn kernels can even catch fish. Small lures have been known to occasionally catch green sunfish. They can be caught with fly fishing tackle.

Fallfish species of fish

The fallfish is a North American freshwater fish, a chub in the family Cyprinidae. The fallfish is the largest minnow species native to Eastern North America.

Brook stickleback species of fish

The brook stickleback is a small freshwater fish that is distributed across the US and Canada. It grows to a length of about 2 inches. It occupies the northern part of the eastern United States, as well as the southern half of Canada. Small populations are scattered throughout the Mississippi-Great Lakes basin extending to Colorado, New Mexico, Kentucky, Tennessee, etc., though some of these areas are not native to the species. This small fish inhabits clear, cool streams and lakes. They eat small invertebrates, algae, insect larvae, and occasionally their own eggs. They are also preyed upon by smallmouth bass and northern pike. Feeding time is usually dawn and sunset. The brook stickleback does have active competition mostly from minnows, but feeding times are different, along with diet. Spawning occurs in midsummer. Males secure a territory, build a nest, and mate with females. Males provide protection for the eggs, ward off predators, and usually die later in the season. This is considered an annual species. The nests are built out of aquatic grasses. Though the brook stickleback is not considered a threatened species, deforesting and changing waters are altering ecosystems of the species. Harvesting of trees around riparian environments is having a large effect of the stream ecosystem where the brook stickleback resides.

The Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery is a federal, warm water fish hatchery located in Natchitoches, Louisiana, United States. Natchitoches is involved in spawning, hatching and rearing young fish.

Striped bass fishing

Striped bass are perciform fish found all along the Atlantic coast, from Florida to Nova Scotia, and are caught as far north as Hudson Bay. They are of significant value as sporting fish, and have been introduced to many areas outside their native range.

Fishing bait Substance or device used to attract fish

Fishing bait is any substance used to attract and catch fish, e.g. on the end of a fishing hook, or inside a fish trap. Traditionally, nightcrawlers, insects, and smaller bait fish have been used for this purpose. Fishermen have also begun using plastic bait and more recently, electronic lures to attract fish.

David P. Philipp is an American-born biologist known for his work on conservation genetics, reproductive ecology, and the effects of angling on fish populations. He is a conservation geneticist and Director of the Fisheries Genetics Lab at the Illinois Natural History Survey, an Adjunct Professor at the University of Illinois, and the Chair of the Fisheries Conservation Foundation. Philipp has supervised a number of graduate students including Steven J. Cooke, Cory Suski, Derek Aday, Jeff Koppelman, Jana Svec, Jimmy Ludden, Dale Burkett, Sascha Danylchuk and Jeff Stein.

References

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