There’s a reason why the largemouth bass remains one of the most sought-after sport fish in America. In addition to its extraordinary fights and fiery strikes, they’re popular with anglers far and wide thanks to their full out-of-water leaps. But like everything worth pursuing, you’ll need knowledge, patient, and sometimes luck to land a largemouth bass.
Whether you refer to them as bigmouth bass, black bass, Florida largemouth, Green trout or bucket-mouth, there’s no denying that the largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) is highly revered by anglers not just in the United States but all over the world. Although the largemouth bass isn’t really a bass, it resembles the members of the temperate bass family. Found in every state except Alaska, you shouldn’t be surprised to come across a couple of largemouth bass in any freshwater body near you. Given that a largemouth bass is a heavily targeted fish species, we feel fortunate that we know a lot about it; something that we want to share with all anglers out there.
The largemouth bass is not fussy about food. In other words, it’s a predator and never a scavenger. As such, luring it to take a bite is one of the biggest challenges out there on the water. But if you can find where the largemouth is at any given time – which is quite a challenge – and lure it to take a bite, then the vicious fight that will ensue is a pleasure to behold! This is perhaps why the largemouth continues to be popular among anglers.
This article, therefore, delves into all about largemouth bass, facts, where to find them, what they eat, and more importantly, how to catch them. At the end of this read, you should be in a better place in understanding and appreciating the behavioral nature or largemouth bass and everything else that might help you in enticing and landing this hugely popular fish species.
The largemouth bass is essentially a solitary freshwater game fish. They’re primarily warm water species and generally thrive in lakes with aquatic vegetation. This is because they prefer calm, quiet, and warm waters but can also perfectly adapt in other conditions and that’s why you’ll also find them in rivers, ponds, streams, and reservoirs. They’re native to North America and are very common in most parts of the United States, Canada, and northern Mexico. But because they’re very adaptable and can thrive in various environments, they’ve been introduced in other regions around the world including Japan, New Zealand, Lebanon, Philippines, Guam, South Africa, and many parts of Europe.
Although they’re solitary predators, they’ll occasionally flock in areas with abundant food supplies. When they’re not feeding, they’ll most likely hide in water vegetation, between rocks, under roots and will strike their prey from the shadows.
The largemouth bass can have many different colors depending on their habitat, watercolor, their diet, and the time of the year. For example, largemouth bass in Florida tends to be much darker in color than those found in New York because of the dark nutrient-rich water in Florida. However, they’re naturally olive-green to greenish-gray and are generally marked with a series of dark or black blotches that form a rough horizontal stripe along each flank.
Their upper jaw typically extends beyond the rearmost margin of the orbit with female largemouth bass much bigger than a male.
Largemouth bass typically spawns in spring as long as the water temperatures are favorable (60F is ideal). This means that they can put on hold their spawning patterns for more than 60 days until that time when the water temperatures are ideal for spawning.
Given that they belong to the sunfish family, largemouth bass creates rounded sauce-like nests in sand, mud, rock, hard clay or gravel from between 2 to 4 feet of water and within 10 feet from the shore. The nests are usually covered to offer security and to deter predators from accessing the breeding grounds.
A female largemouth can produce between 2,000 to 4,000 eggs but the male largemouth has to fertilize the eggs and guard the nest until the young ones are ready to fend for themselves. The female will leave the nest after producing the eggs and will drift deeper into the water to recuperate her exhausted body.
In most cases, a largemouth can live for 10 to 16 years on average but some can surpass the 20-year mark.
Although the female largemouth is often bigger than the male counterpart, you should always keep in mind that the growth rate of any largemouth bass will vary depending on the length of the growing season, the fertility of the water, and of course, the number of other fish competing for the same food supply.
While the male largemouth rarely grows to any size larger than three or four pounds, female largemouth can exceed five or six pounds. In terms of length, the average length is 18 inches while some bigger largemouth bass can attain 24 inches or more. The biggest largemouth bass was caught in Montgomery Lake, Georgia in 1932 and remains a world record to date. It weighed 22 pounds, 4 ounces (10.09kg).
When it comes to speed, largemouth bass has a burst swimming speed or nearly 12mph. However, they cannot sustain this speed for long. As such, they’ll only strike prey if it passes within close range.
Largemouth bass does not like bright sunlight. This is essentially why you’ll rarely find them in shallow waters. As soon as the spawning season is over, they usually retreat to areas that provide cover, shade, and seclusion. As we mentioned earlier, they’re solitary fish that prefer hiding between rocks, under roots, among water vegetation, and within sunken tree limbs.
While you can occasionally find younger largemouth bass in shallow shorelines, adult largemouth bass tends to go deeper but not more than 19 feet. They’ll remain there and actively look to replenish their bodies after the spawning season and in preparation for the next spawning season. Keep in mind, that it still won’t be easy to find largemouth bass even when they’re active.
Keep in mind that largemouth bass has adapted their survival instincts and are not curious like other fish species. That’s principally why they won’t attach any prey just for the sake of feeding. Again, they’re generally shy and tend to move away from bright lights. In short, they hate bright lights and tend to go deeper and hide in darker areas. As such, it will be a load tougher to catch largemouth bass when the sun penetrates deeper into the water.
In terms of temperature, the metabolic rates of largemouth bass are significantly influenced by the water temperatures. The ideal water condition for largemouth bass is warm water ranging between 68F and 74F. This doesn’t, however, mean that they won’t bite when the water temperatures are colder or hotter but they’ll tend to be more lethargic.
In essence, the ideal habitat for largemouth bass is warm water temperatures and you’ll most likely find them in deeper waters and areas with covers.
When the summer is hot, largemouth bass tends to find areas within the water that provide them with enough oxygen to survive. This gives them very few options. They can choose to move deeper into the water or find cooler places within the water, especially in shades provided with aquatic vegetation. They can also choose to move to shallow waters, which are generally rich in oxygen.
It’s important to always remember that warmer waters have very low amounts of oxygen in shallow areas. On the contrary, deeper cooler waters can hold a sufficient amount of oxygen, and so largemouth bass will tend to move deeper into the water during summer while also escaping bright lights and overheating in shallow waters.
The water temperatures will begin to drop during fall and this can send signs to largemouth bass that winter is just around the corner. This is an indication that largemouth bass will become more active and feed in anticipation of low metabolism in winter. As such, they’ll become more aggressive than they usually are, and this will make them vulnerable to anglers.
Largemouth bass will become more lethargic in winter given that colder water temperatures will slow down their metabolism. In other words, they’ll become inactive and will go deeper in water to find a more stable temperature zone. In essence, it will be a lot harder to get largemouth bass to catch during winter.
Spring is fundamentally the best time to catch largemouth bass. The excitement that comes with the melting of snow and the increase in water temperature should give you hope that largemouth bass will bite. Besides, this is the spawning season and the fish will tend to be in shallow areas.
Largemouth bass has external lips that contain very sensitive taste buds. And given that they’ve been lethargic during winter, they’ll come out to feed and can be very aggressive during spring. It’s important to target stiller waters that warm faster. Again, food tends to be a lot in spring and so largemouth bass will not struggle much to get a bite.
Although largemouth bass can feed on anything that can fit in their mouths, their diet tends to vary depending on what’s available in their habitat. They’re extremely aggressive when it comes to finding the next meal and can feed on crayfish, frogs, snakes, birds, small rodents, smaller bass, bats, salamanders, baby alligators. Snails, shad, yellow perch, sunfish, ciscoes, and even younger members of white bass, walleye, catfish, trout, and striped bass.
Largemouth bass occupies virtually any type of freshwater. Although they’re usually found in lakes, you can find them in rivers, ponds, reservoirs. They love slow-moving water bodies and water bodies that do not get too cold, especially during winter. As such, you can find them in just about any freshwater body near you.
They tend to hang in areas with aquatic vegetation though they’ll be much close to the shore in spring when they’re spawning. You should, therefore, target areas with aquatic vegetation, tree logs, docks or just about any structure within the water.
In all honesty, there’s not a single fishing method that can be pointed as being the best for catching largemouth bass. But because you’ll perhaps never come across a largemouth bass that’s never hungry, you can use any fishing method to catch largemouth bass. Again, largemouth bass is very aggressive and you can target them using various fishing methods and techniques. So no matter the fishing technique that you prefer, you’ll most likely catch largemouth bass with it.
While various tackles are specifically designed for catching largemouth bass, any type of tackle will be ideal for catching largemouth bass although each tackle can have its distinct advantages in various conditions. In terms of size, the tackle should be medium size and capable of holding a 10-to-20-pound test line. This is essential in allowing you to catch largemouth bass of any size.
Spinning tackle can be a great choice for catching largemouth bass since they’re very easy to use and master and can be ideal when using complicated lures. For instance, spinning tackle can be ideal for flipping soft plastics in tighter spaces such as under overhanging trees and docks.
The largemouth bass is aggressive and can pull hard, which makes baitcasting tackles a no-brainer. A baitcasting tackle is ideal given that it gives you more leverage when pulling bigger largemouth bass out from structures. They also give you longer casting abilities while offering greater accuracy when fishing in complicated areas.
A sold fly rod measuring between 8 and 9 feet with a stiff backbone and fast action is ideal for catching largemouth bass. And given that you cannot realistically catch big largemouth bass on flies, you can nonetheless have great fun using fly rods.
Offering live baits to largemouth bass is the perfect way to go. They are opportunistic feeders that will essentially eat anything that comes their way. However, the best live baits for catching largemouth bass are shads, crawlers, bluegill, crayfish, and golden shiners.
Even though largemouth bass is aggressive predators, they do not love chasing down their prey. Instead, they love stalking and using cover to attack. As such the best artificial lures are plastic worms and bottom lures that can be rigged through the vegetation and structures. You can also use swimming lures, spinnerbaits, topwater lures, as well as spoons, poppers, crankbaits, and stick baits.
There’s no denying that largemouth bass is quite palatable and will offer an unforgettable and sumptuous dinner taste. It has white, healthy meat with a steady and tender texture. Its smell may, however, make it unsuitable for indoor cooking and its fishy flavor may not go down well with many people. It is also ideal for both children and pregnant women. Here’s how to perfect cook largemouth bass.
Although largemouth bass is one of the most aggressive fish species out there, it remains hugely popular with anglers and for a good reason. Its unpredictability and elusive nature make it fun to fish and knowing all about this popular fish species will increase your chances of landing a big largemouth.
To this end, largemouth bass is, and will perhaps, remain the most sought-after freshwater sport fish in the world. Hopefully, this guide will elate your knowledge about this fish species and give you a better understanding of this hugely popular fish.
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