Fish and Aquatic Conservation



illustration of a Largemouth bass

Largemouth bass

Micropterus salmoides (Lacepede, 1802)

Cool Facts

Recreational sport fishing for largemouth bass has become extremely popular in the United States. This sport is now a multi-billion dollar industry. Largemouth Bass fishing has significantly expanded from its humble beginnings in the late 19th century. This new industry is now driving the development of new types of fishing gear specifically designed for catching largemouth bass, electronic “depth” finder and “fish” finding instruments, drift boats, float tubes and specialized bass boats. Largemouth bass have been introduced widely as a recreational fish species throughout the world. As a result, competitive bass fishing has now spread to the countries of Japan, Korea, Italy, Australia and South Africa. Some countries have reported negative impacts resulting from the introduction of largemouth bass in non-native waters. The maximum reported age for largemouth bass is 23 years. The heaviest reported weight for was 10.1 kg (22 lbs.)

SIZE: Common length for largemouth bass is 40 cm (15.7 inches) with the longest recorded specimen being 97 cm (38.2 inches).

RANGE: The range of largemouth bass within North America extends from the St. Lawrence River, the Great Lakes, Hudson Bay (Red River) and into the Mississippi River basin. Largemouth bass are also found in Atlantic drainages from North Carolina to Florida and into northern Mexico.

HABITAT: Largemouth bass inhabit clear, vegetated lakes, ponds, swamps, and the backwaters of pools, creeks and rivers. Largemouth bass prefer spawning areas with a firm bottom of sand, mud or gravel. Adult largemouth bass utilize submerged aquatic vegetation as cover to ambush prey and juvenile or young largemouth use aquatic weeds, tree limbs or submerged log or stumps as cover to escape predation. Dissolved oxygen is also an important hydrological condition essential to largemouth bass habitat.

DIET: Adult largemouth bass feed on fish, crayfish and frogs. Young largemouth bass will feed on crustaceans, insects, and small fish. Some largemouth bass can be cannibalistic just like northern pike. Largemouth bass normally do not feed during spawning or when the water temperature dips below 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit) or above 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

Natural History

Largemouth bass spawn in the spring. Male largemouth bass, when preparing to spawn will fan or spread out a nest to help protect the eggs when they are fertilized. When the eggs hatch the fry will remain in the nest for protection. When the fry reach 1.5 to 2 inches (5.08 cm) in length they will begin to feed on insect larvae and smaller fishes.

Conservation

Largemouth bass are one of the top recreational fish species in the United States. As a result, they have been stocked throughout the U.S. to provide recreational fishing opportunities outside of their native range. Largemouth bass are primarily managed by recreational fishing regulations which normally delineate fishing seasons, by creel limits, and size limits.