Largemouth Bass | Illustration © TPWD

Classification: Micropterus salmoides

Common Names: largemouth bass, widemouth bass, bigmouth bass, black bass, bucketmouth, Oswego bass, green bass, green trout, Florida bass, ditch pickles, and more.

Identification: Largemouth bass are usually olive green in color with dark blotches that form a horizontal line along the sides with a silvery-white underbelly. A distinguishing characteristic of largemouth bass is the upper jaw extends beyond the rear margin of the eye. They have a nearly divided, deeply notched dorsal fin with 9-10 spines and 12-13 rays in the posterior.

General Description: The largemouth bass is the largest of the black bass species. Average life expectancy is 16 years and a maximum recorded weight of 25 pounds 1 ounce. However, the average bass grows at a rate of:

  • Year 1: 4-6 inches
  • Year 2: 8-12 inches
  • Year 3: 16+ inches

Habitat: Largemouth bass seek clear non-flowing water with protective cover such as logs, vegetation (overhangs or aquatic growth), and man-made structures like docks. Largemouth are the most adaptable of the black bass species and survive just fine in a multitude of environments.

Largemouth Bass Facts

  • Largest freshwater gamefish in the sunfish family (Centrarchidae).
  • Maximum recorded length = 29.5 inches.
  • Maximum recorded weight = 25 pounds 1 ounce.

    Largemouth bass underwater
  • Lives 16 years on average. Oldest known bass was 23.
  • Can be found in every state in the continental U.S.A.
  • Mouth extends to at least rear edge of eyes.
  • Deep dip in top dorsal fin.
  • Relative to age, females are larger than males.
  • Bass never stop growing; usually the larger the fish the older it is.
  • The name “bass” is derived from the Old English word bærs, meaning prickly fish – referring to spiny dorsal fins that all perch (including largemouth) have.
  • State fish of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Florida.
  • Most intelligent freshwater fish – able to distinguish and avoid a particular type of lure after only one encounter.
  • Baby bass or “fry” are less than 2 inches in length and mainly feed on zooplankton and insect larvae.

*According to the IFGA, some bass lakes believed to be “fished out” contain plenty of bass but the fish have learned to recognize virtually all the lures in common use on the lake. In such cases, a lure that is new to them will often work where others have failed.

  • Adult largemouth are usually solitary fish.
  • A 5 pound largemouth bass is considered a prized fish to most anglers.
  • Bass are not picky eaters and are known to eat all of the following:
    • Other Fish (predominately), Insects, Frogs, Snakes, Rats, Birds, Worms, Bats, Eels, Crayfish, lizards and turtles.
  • 5 out of the top 10 largest largemouth bass ever caught were landed using live bait (bluegill, crayfish, nightcrawler worm).FishWormSeye1
  • Adult bass are typically the apex predator at the top of the food chain in their environment. However, as juveniles bass may fall prey to walleye, pike, musky, other bass and birds.
  • An angler from California named Mac Weakley actually caught the largest largemouth bass ever (25.1 pounds) in 2006 but it did not count towards any records because he foul-hooked it!
  • Largemouth bass vary in color depending on the type of water they inhabit. Typically bass from murky waters are pale while bass from clear waters are much darker. The dark lateral line of the down the side of the bass becomes more distinct when exposed to sunlight.
  • George Perry’s 22.25 pound bass from Montgomery Lake in 1932 still holds the IGFA world record and has not been “officially” beaten in over 75 years.
  • Largemouth bass can eat prey up to 50% or more of their body length.
  • Largemouth typically rely on camouflage to ambush their prey and can make quick short bursts with swimming speeds of 18-20 miles per hour.
  • Bass have an inner ear bone that can pick up small frequencies of sounds like the movement of a crawfish.
  • Largemouth bass actually have 6 senses. In addition to hearing, sight, smell, taste and touch they also have the later line. This line of pores down the fishes side detect movement and pressure changes in the surrounding water.
  • An average 2 pound female bass will lay about 8000 eggs a year. From those eggs only 5-10 will survive to be 10 inches or longer. That bass you just caught has already beaten many odds.
  • Biologist have identified two subspecies of largemouth bass: the Florida largemouth and the Norther largemouth. The two look alike but the Florida largemouth grows larger and faster.
  • The correct way to hold a bass is to put its bottom lip between your thumb and bent index finger. Make sure to squeeze tight! Use a second hand for extra support on the belly of larger fish.
  • During the spawn male bass will nudge females to help trigger the release of eggs.
  • Bass have great vision. They can see most of the same colors as humans. Selecting a lure in a natural color resembling the prey they’ve been feeding on will help fool them into biting.

Smallmouth Bass Facts

Smallmouth bass underwater side view

Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu) aka brown bass, brownie, smallie, bronzeback, bronze bass

  • Second largest freshwater gamefish in the sunfish family (Centrarchidae).
  • Maximum recorded weight = 11 pounds 15 ounces.
  • Maximum recorded length = 27 inches.
  • Have clearly connected dorsal fins.
  • Jawbone extends to only middle of the eye.
  • Habitat is deeper water than that of largemouths.
  • Rivals largemouth in popularity.