Largemouth bass

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Largemouth bass
1351 largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) 300 dpi.jpg
Scientific classification OOjs UI icon edit-ltr.svg
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Centrarchidae
Genus: Micropterus
M. nigricans
Binomial name
Micropterus nigricans
(Cuvier, 1828)
Synonyms [2]
  • Labrus salmoidesLacepède, 1802
  • Aplites salmoides(Lacepède, 1802)
  • Grystes salmoides(Lacepède, 1802)
  • Huro salmoides(Lacepède, 1802)
  • Huro nigricans Cuvier, 1828
  • Grystes nigricans(Cuvier, 1828)
  • Perca nigricans(Cuvier, 1828)
  • Grystes megastoma Garlick, 1857

The largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) is a carnivorous freshwater ray-finned fish in the Centrarchidae (sunfish) family, native to the eastern and central United States, southeastern Canada and northern Mexico. [3] [4] [2] It is known by a variety of regional names, such as the widemouth bass, bigmouth bass, black bass, bucketmouth, largie, Potter's fish, Florida bass, Florida largemouth, green bass, bucketmouth bass, green trout, Gilsdorf bass, Oswego bass, LMB, and southern largemouth and northern largemouth. [5]


The largemouth bass was first described by French naturalist Bernard Germain de Lacépède in 1802. Recent studies[ which? ] have concluded that the correct binomial name for the Florida bass is Labrus salmoides, while the oldest available binomial for the largemouth bass is Cuvier's Huro nigricans.[ citation needed ] It is the largest species of the black bass, with a maximum recorded length of 29.5 inches (75 cm) and an unofficial weight of 25 pounds 1 ounce (11.4 kg).

The largemouth bass is the state fish of Georgia [6] and Mississippi, [7] and the state freshwater fish of Florida [8] and Alabama. [9] [10] It is a highly prized sport fish among anglers for their vigorous resistance when caught, and have been introduced to many regions due to their popularity in bass fishing and tolerance to urban streams. However, they have become an invasive species in some areas, causing the decline, displacement or extinction of native species through predation and competition.


The largemouth bass was first formally described as Labrus salmoides in 1802 by the French naturalist Bernard Germain de Lacépède with the type locality given as the Carolinas. [11] Lacépède based his description on an illustration of a specimen collected by Louis Bosc near Charleston, South Carolina. Recent phylogenomic studies, however, place the type locality given by Lacépède as within the range of the Florida bass (M. floridanus) and outside that of the largemouth bass. This study concludes that Lacépède's name is the correct binomial for the Florida bass and that the oldest available binomial for the largemouth bass is Cuvier's Huro nigricans, which has a type locality of Lake Huron which is within the range of the largemouth bass. [12]


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. [13] The upper jaw (maxilla) of a largemouth bass extends beyond the rear margin of the orbit. [14]

The largemouth bass is the largest of the black basses, reaching a maximum recorded overall length of 29.5 in (75 cm) [15] and a maximum unofficial weight of 25 lb 1 oz (11.4 kg). [15] Sexual dimorphism is found, with the female larger than the male.

Largemouth bass prefer habitats with abundant littoral vegetation and generally maintain relatively small home ranges in lakes. [16] They have an average lifespan of 10 to 16 years in the wild. [17]


Juvenile largemouth bass consumes mostly small bait fish, scuds, water fleas, [18] copepods, [18] small shrimp, and insects. Adults consume smaller fish (bluegill, banded killifish, minnows, juvenile bass), shad, worms, snails, crawfish, frogs, snakes, and salamanders. [ citation needed ] In larger lakes and reservoirs, adult bass occupy slightly deeper water than younger fish, and shift to a diet consisting almost entirely of smaller fish like shad, yellow perch, ciscoes, suckers, shiners, other cyprinids, [18] freshwater silversides, [19] and sunfish (such as bluegill and green sunfish). [20] It also consumes younger members of larger fish species, such as catfish, trout, walleye, white bass, striped bass, and even smaller black bass. Among the crayfish species preyed upon include Orconectes difficilis , Orconectes harrisonii , Orconectes hartfieldi , and Procambarus clarkii. [20] Prey items can be as large as 50% of the bass's body length or larger. [21]

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, [22] including great blue herons, larger bass, northern pike, walleye, muskellunge, yellow perch, channel catfish, northern water snakes, crappie, common carp, and American eels. [20] Multiple species of kingfishers and bitterns feed on this bass, as well. Both the young and adult largemouths are targeted by the bald eagle. [20]

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. It is illegal to use or possess live Neogobius melanostomus as bait in the Great Lakes Region. [23]


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. [24] Spawning takes place in the spring season when the water temperature first remains continuously above 60 °F (16 °C) for a sufficient period of time.[ specify ] In the northern region of the United States and Canada, 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. [25] Males form 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. [24] 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. [26] 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 two to four days in the southern US 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. [24]


A largemouth bass caught by an angler Caught largemouth bass.jpg
A largemouth bass caught by an angler
Largemouth bass caught in New Jersey PB-LMB.jpg
Largemouth bass caught in New Jersey

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. [27] 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. 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. [28] 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.[ citation needed ]

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 kilograms (22 lb 5 oz) Perry's bass was caught on June 2, 1932, from Montgomery Lake in Georgia and weighed 10.09 kilograms (22 lb 4 oz). This record is shared because the IGFA states a new record must beat the old record by at least 2 ounces. [29]

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.[ citation needed ] However, if the fish swallows the hook, survival odds greatly decrease. [ citation needed ] 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 ]

Given largemouth bass' prevalence across North America and their accessibility to the everyday angler, largemouth bass are often viewed as an introductory fish. Fishing for largemouth bass can help beginner anglers transition away from traditional "worm on a hook" angling towards fishing with artificial lures and strategies. It is often the case that recreational fishermen become "addicted to fishing" shortly after they make largemouth bass their target species. [ citation needed ] The cultural implications of largemouth bass are quite significant, as there are even competitions and tournaments specifically targeting largemouth bass in North America.

Invasive species

The largemouth bass has been introduced into many other regions and countries due to its popularity as a sport fish and tolerance to urban environments. It causes the decline, displacement or extinctions of species in its new habitat through predation and competition, [30] 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. [31] They have also been blamed for the extinction of the Atitlan grebe, a large waterbird which once inhabited Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. [32] 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. This allows them to be successful as an invasive species in relatively stable aquatic food webs. [33] 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. [34] The largemouth bass has been causing sharp decreases in native fish populations in Japan since 1996, especially in bitterling fish in Lake Izunuma-Uchinuma. [35]


To better understand the effects of angling on largemouth bass populations, researchers have studied physiological variation in the largemouth bass. One study found that in areas where angling was high, there was a significant effect on bass physiology. In stress tests, bass from protected areas had increased cortisol responsiveness compared to those in the highly active fisheries. [36] The largemouth bass in Freshwater Protected Areas also had a higher aerobic scope, potentially providing them with more energy for growth, reproduction, and responding to environmental change. [36] Another study found that maternal exposure to the stress hormone cortisol resulted in a lower responsiveness to angling stressors in their progeny. [37] These studies in tandem provide evidence that repeated exposure to stress hormones and high angling pressure can bring out suboptimal phenotypes in largemouth bass populations.

Related Research Articles

Bass is a generic common name shared by many species of ray-finned fish from the large clade Percomorpha, mainly belonging to the orders Perciformes and Moroniformes, encompassing both freshwater and marine species. The word bass comes from Middle English bars, meaning "perch", despite that none of the commonly referred bass species belong to the perch family Percidae.

<i>Micropterus</i> Genus of fishes

Micropterus is a genus of North American freshwater fish collectively known as the black bass, belonging to the sunfish family Centrarchidae of order Perciformes. They are sometimes erroneously called "black trout", but the name trout more correctly refers to certain members of the salmonid family.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Spotted bass</span> Species of fish

The spotted bass, also called spotty, or spots in various fishing communities, is a species of North American freshwater fish belonging to the sunfish family (Centrarchidae) of the order Perciformes. It is noted for the rows of dark spots below the lateral line, which give it its common name. 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 as an invasive species.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Smallmouth bass</span> Species of freshwater 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 Micropterus, and 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 (69 cm) and 12 pounds (5.4 kg).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Centrarchidae</span> Family of fishes

Centrarchidae, better known as sunfishes, is a family of freshwater ray-finned fish belonging to the order Perciformes, native only to North America. There are eight universally included genera within the centrarchid family: Lepomis, Micropterus, Pomoxis (crappies), Enneacanthus, Centrarchus, Archoplites, Ambloplites, and Acantharchus. A genetic study in 2012 suggests that the highly distinct pygmy sunfishes of the genus Elassoma are also centrarchids.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bass fishing</span> Recreational activity targeting North American black bass species

Bass fishing is the recreational fishing activity, typically via rod-based angling, for various game fishes of North America known collectively as black bass. There are numerous black bass species targeted in North America, including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass or Kentucky bass, and Guadalupe bass. All black bass species are members of the sunfish family Centrarchidae.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Angling</span> Fishing technique

Angling is a fishing technique that uses a fish hook attached to a fishing line to tether individual fish in the mouth. The fishing line is usually manipulated via a fishing rod, although rodless techniques such as handlining also exist. Modern angling rods are usually fitted with a fishing reel that functions as a cranking device for storing, retrieving and releasing out the line, although Tenkara fishing and traditional cane pole fishing are two rod-angling methods that do not use any reel. The fish hook itself can be additionally weighted with a denser tackle called a sinker, and is typically dressed with an appetizing bait to attract and entice the fish into swallowing the hook, but sometimes an inedible fake/imitation bait with multiple attached hooks is used instead of a single hook with edible bait. Some type of bite indicator, such as a float, a bell or a quiver tip, is often used to relay underwater status of the hook to the surface and alert the angler of a fish's presence.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Flathead catfish</span> Species of fish

The flathead catfish, also called by several common names including mudcat or shovelhead cat, is a large species of North American freshwater catfish in the family Ictaluridae. It is the only species of the genus Pylodictis. Ranging from the lower Great Lakes region to northern Mexico, it has been widely introduced and is an invasive species in some areas. The closest living relative of the flathead catfish is the much smaller widemouth blindcat, Satan eurystomus.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bluegill</span> Species of fish

The bluegill, sometimes referred to as "bream", "brim", "sunny", or, as is common in Texas, "copper nose", is a species of North American freshwater fish, native to and commonly found in streams, rivers, lakes, ponds and wetlands east of the Rocky Mountains. It is the type species of the genus Lepomis, from the family Centrarchidae in the order Perciformes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pumpkinseed</span> Species of fish

The pumpkinseed, also referred to as pond perch, common sunfish, punkie, sunfish, sunny, and kivver, is a small/medium-sized North American freshwater fish of the genus Lepomis, from family Centrarchidae in the order Perciformes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Shoal bass</span> 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 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yellow perch</span> Species of freshwater fish

The yellow perch, commonly referred to as perch, striped perch or preacher is a freshwater perciform fish native to much of North America. The yellow perch was described in 1814 by Samuel Latham Mitchill from New York. It is closely related, and morphologically similar to the European perch ; and is sometimes considered a subspecies of its European counterpart.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Peacock bass</span> Genus of fishes

Peacock bass or Brazilian tucunaré are large freshwater cichlids of the genus Cichla. These are diurnal predatory fishes native to the Amazon and Orinoco basins, as well as rivers of the Guianas, in tropical South America. They are sometimes referred to in English by their Brazilian name tucunaré or their Spanish name pavon. Despite the common name and their superficial similarity, they are not closely related to other fish known as bass, such as the North American largemouth bass.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Artificial fly</span> Lure used in fly fishing

An artificial fly or fly lure is a type of fishing lure, usually used in the sport of fly fishing. In general, artificial flies are an imitation of aquatic insects that are natural food of the target fish species the fly fishers try to catch. Artificial flies are constructed by fly tying, in which furs, feathers, thread or any of very many other materials are tied onto a fish hook.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fishing bait</span> Substance or device used to attract fish

Fishing bait is any luring substance used specifically to attract and catch fish, typically when angling with a hook and line. There are generally two types of baits used in angling: hookbaits, which are directly mounted onto fish hooks and are what the term "fishing bait" typically refers to; and groundbaits, which are scattered separately into the water as an "appetizer" to attract the fish nearer to the hook. Despite the bait's sole importance is to provoke a feeding response out of the target fish, the way how fish react to different baits is quite poorly understood.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to fishing:

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.

<i>Strophitus undulatus</i> Species of bivalve

Strophitus undulatus is a species of mussel in the Unionidae, the river mussels. It is native to eastern Canada and the eastern United States. Its common names include creeper, squawfoot, sloughfoot, and strange floater.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Florida bass</span> Species of fish

The Florida bass is a species of freshwater ray-finned fish, a black bass belonging to the sunfish family Centrarchidae of order Perciformes. It is found in the southeastern United States.

Fishing in Colorado has brought in a large amount of revenue for the state. In 2019 Colorado Parks and Wildlife estimated outdoor recreation contributed roughly 62 billion dollars to the state economy. Fishing was reported to be the 5th most popular outdoor activity and 110, 511 fishing and hunting combination licenses were sold. Ice fishing makes up part of this total fishing revenue and is a common annual sport for Colorado residents and out-of-state visitors. There is no legal definition of ice fishing season. Rather, people begin to ice fish once the lakes freeze over with thick enough ice. Colorado Parks and Wildlife also recommend that people always ice-fish with another person. Typically, this starts in December and ends in April for Colorado. Lakes size, depth, elevation, and seasonal weather can cause variance to the season. Once the lakes freeze over with thick enough ice, anglers go out onto the ice, drill holes through the ice, and fish for a variety of species.


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