All the warmwater fish
The big sunfish
"Inch for inch and pound for pound, the gamest fish that swims",,,eventually will
become the leading game fish of America"... "replacing the Lordly trout".
Dr. James Henshall, Book of the Black Bass, 1881
Largemouth Bass, Northern
Largemouth Bass, Florida
Smallmouth Bass
Spotted (Kentucky) Bass
Suwannee bass
Redeye Bass
Shoal Bass
Guadalupe Bass

Largemouth bass (Northern)

Micropterus salmoides
Translation of name: Micropterus--small fin; salmoides--troutlike, in gameness and in quality as food, and often called "trout" in the South, where the original was captured.

Other common names:
northern largemouth bass, largemouth, bigmouth bass, black bass, largemouth black bass, green bass, line side, green trout, Oswego bass, bayou bass, slough bass, lake bass.

U.S. Record:
22 pounds, 4 ounces, Montgomery Lake, Georgia, 1932

Special features: The largemouth bass is without question the most popular sport fish in America. At least 5 books have been published on fly fishing for largemouth bass.

Description: The largemouth is the largest member of the sunfish family with light greenish to brownish sides and a dark lateral line which tends to break into blotches towards the tail. Often confused with smallmouth and spotted bass, it is easily distinguishable because the upper jaw extends beyond the rear edge of the eye. Also, its first and second dorsal fins are almost separated by an obvious deep dip, and there are no scales on the soft-rayed second dorsal fin or on the anal fin.

Habitat: The largemouth is the classic"warm-water" species. It flourishes in waters warmer than 80 degrees and can survive temperatures in the mid-90's.Though the largemouth tolerates turbid water, it favors lakes with clear water, sandy shallows and abundant rooted aquatic weeds and in streams joining good bass lakes. In studies done in Wisconsin, the largemouth bass was encountered most frequently in clear to slightly turbid water at depths up to 1.5 m, over substrates of sand (31% frequency), gravel (20%), mud (20%), silt (9%), rubble (7%), boulders (6%), day (4%), and detritus (3%). In short, the largemouth bass occurs mostly in shallow areas with sparse to dense vegetation--the same type of habitat that produces bluegills.

Where to find it: The largemouth bass original range was east of the Rocky Mountains from southern Quebec and Ontario
through the Great Lakes and the Mississippi Valley to the Gulf of Mexico, and from northeastern Mexico to Florida and the Carolinas. Interestingly, was not reported in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan or lakes on the south shore of Lake Superior. Its present world distribution includes North America, Central America, South America, Africa, Europe, Guam, Hawaii, Japan, Lebanon, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

Feeding Habits: The diet of bass changes with its size. Smaller bass feed on insects, crayfish, and small fishes. Adult bass will eat whatever is available, including fish, crayfish, crabs, frogs, salamanders, snakes, mice, turtles and even birds. They lie in wait in the cover of weeds and ambush prey as it swims by. During the day, largemouth bass cruise above aquatic plants at depths of 1-3 m, or lie under lily pads or in the shade of overhanging trees, piers, or brush. In the evening, largemouths tend to move into shallow water. Largemouth bass forage most actively during twilight, dusk, and darkness during summer. Surface or underwater flies work well. Laboratory experiments have shown that the largemouth bass is able to distinguish colors quite readily. It prefers red, which it is able to distinguish easily from all other colors except violet. Colors have been worked into a wide assortment of flies.

Spawning and survival: Reproduction characteristics of largemouth bass are quite similar to the other sunfishes. Pre-spawn commences as water temperatures near 60 degrees and bass migrate from deep water and actively forage. Towards the end of the pre-spawn every bass in a body of water will be in the shallows and foraging. The male fans out a dish-shaped nest with its tail. With water temperature bettween 63 and 68 degrees the females deposit their eggs on the roots of submerged plants or grass over rocky or mud bottoms. Water depth over nests is usually 1.5 to 3 feet. After spawning, the female moves off into deep water and the male guards the nest. During this time, the male strikes savagely at intruders but does not eat. It may even carry intruders and objects from the nest but then ejects them. They are particularly vulnerable to angling mainly because they protect the territory from all intruders, including flies, lures and even natural baits.

Age and growth: As with the other sunfishes, growth varies with the length of the growing season. That is, when the water falls below a certain temperature (some studies indicate 40 degrees), largemouth bass become very sluggish, with reduced metabolism and slowing of growth. As an indication of water temperature influence, in a relatively cold northern Wisconsin lake, it takes 5-6 years to grow a 14 inch largemouth bass, while 400 miles further south on the Mississippi, the same size might be attained in only 2-3 years. Largemouth bass have been observed as old as 16 years.


Florida Largemouth Bass

Micropterus salmoides floridanus

Common Names: black bass, Florida bass, Florida (or southern) largemouth, green bass, bigmouth, bucketmouth, linesides, Oswego bass and green trout.

Special Features: This sub-species of largemouth bass is a Florida native and pure northern largemouth are not found in Florida.
Description: The Florida largemouth, like its northern cousin, generally has light greenish to brownish sides with a dark lateral line which tends to break into blotches towards the tail. It is distinguished from the smallmouth and spotted bass due to the fact that the upper jaw extends beyond the rear edge of the eye. Also, its first and second dorsal fins are almost separated by an obvious deep dip, and there are no scales on the soft-rayed second dorsal fin or on the anal fin. The Florida largemouth has more scales along the lateral line (69-73) to the northern largemouth's (59-65 scales) and Florida largemouth grow to trophy size more readily than northern largemouth in warm waters.

Range: Originally, the Florida largemouth was found only in peninsular Florida, but they have been stocked in several other states including Texas and California. Pure northern largemouth bass are not found in Florida. Genetic intergrades between the subspecies, however, occur throughout north Florida and probably in other states where both species are not present..

Habitat: Prefers clear, nonflowing waters with aquatic vegetation where food and cover are available. They occupy brackish to freshwater habitats, including upper estuaries, rivers, lakes, reservoirs and ponds. Also, they can tolerate a wide range of water clarities and bottom types, prefer water temperatures from 65 to 85 degrees, and are usually found at depths less than 20 feet.

Spawning Habits: Spawning occurs from December through May, but usually in February and March when water temperatures reach 58 to 65 degrees and continues as temperatures rise into the 70s. Bass prefer to build nests in hard-bottom areas along shallow shorelines or in protected areas such as canals and coves. After spawning is completed, usually five to 10 days, the male guards the nest and eggs and later the young attacking anything that approaches the nest. The female bass stays near the nest or may swim a short distance and remain listless for up to a day.

Feeding Habits:- The diet of bass changes with its size. h. Fingerling bass feed on insects, crayfish, and small fishes. Adult bass will eat whatever is available, including fish, crayfish, crabs, frogs, salamanders, snakes, mice, turtles and even birds.

Age and Growth: Growth rates are highly variable with differences attributed mainly to their food supply and length of growing season. Female bass live longer than males and are much more likely to reach trophy size. Males seldom exceed 16 inches, while females frequently surpass 22 inches. At five years females may be twice the weight of males. One-year old bass average about 7 inches and grow to an adult size of 10 inches in about 1.5-2.5 years. The oldest recorded Florida bass was 16 year of age. Generally, 10 pound trophy bass are about 10 years old.


Smallmouth Bass

Micropterus dolomieui
Definition of name: Micropterus--small fin; dolomieui---after M. Dolomieu, a French mineralogist and friend of Lacepede, for whom dolomite was named.

Other common names: northern smallmouth bass, smallmouth black bass, smallmouth, bronzeback, Oswego bass, black bass, yellow bass, brown bass, green bass, redeyed bass, redeye, white or mountain trout.

Indentifying features: Back and head brown, or yellow-brown, or olive to green; sides lighter; belly light yellow to white. Most scales on sides with bronze reflections. Vertical bars faint, 9-16 (generally more numerous and prominent in young), not fused into a lateral band. Usually 3 dark streaks on each side of head, radiating back- ward from snout and eye; dark opercle spot about size of pupil of eye. Eye usually red or orange. Fins lightly pigmented, caudal fin in adults with darker edge; in young, caudal fin strikingly marked with yellow at base, pronounced dark crescent band through middle, and a whitish edge. Breeding male darkens to blackish on back and sides; breeding female has intensified colors.
U.S. Record: 11 pound, 15 ounces, Dale Hollow Lake, Kentucky, 1955
Range: Originally the smallmouth bass was native to the Mississipi river basin, from Northern Minnesota to Ohio and south to Tennesee and Oklahoma. Interestingly, the smallmouth was not native to the Boundary Waters or Maine, where they have gained legendary status. The smallmouth bass has been extensively introduced in American waters, in the waters of most European countries, and in the waters of Guam, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Japan, and Vietnam.
Habitat:The smallmouth bass preferred habit varies. In northern locations, it is primarily an inhabitant of lakes and streams, but southward it is more common in swift, clear streams and rivers than in lakes. It prefers cool, flowing streams, and large, clear lakes over rocky and sandy bottoms. In southern areas, they are common to abundant in smaller tributary streams during spawning in late spring and are taken occasionally in the Mssissippi. Lakes over 20 ft deep, with rooted aquatic vegetation and clean, gravel shores provide the optimum habitat. In Lake Michigan, the smallmouth bass is confined to shoal waters of protected bays. It commonly avoids sluggish or muddy water. Where studies have been done, the smallmouth bass was encountered most frequently in clear to slightly turbid, shallow water, over substrates of sand (27% frequency), gravel (23%), rubble (15%), boulders (14%). In lakes, the smallmouth bass seeks out rock ledges and rocky bottoms, but may also be found along weedy shorelines. It also often occurs in streams containing trout, but typically inhabits the warmer water sections below trout water. Many streams hold trout in the headwaters and grade into smallmouth bass near the mouth.

Spawning habits: In the spring (Late May to early July) smallmouth bass disperse to their spawning areas in gravelly shallows of lakes or large or gentle eddies in streams. In reviewing water temperatures related to smallmouth bass spawning and nest building, reports are variable. Although commonly reported as spawning at water temperatures of 62-64 degrees, smallmouths have been found spawning at 53 degrees in some waters and as high has 75 degrees in others.The male builds the nest. The female lays 2,000 to 10,000 eggs and then heads for deep water. The male remains on the nest two weeks or more, guarding eggs and fry. In rivers, both fish move up larger streams, eventually reaching small tributaries where the actual spawning occurs.Re-nesting is quite common for smallmouth, particularly when early nests are destroyed by natural events such as a flood.

Feeding Habits: Smallmouths are opportunistic predators, eating whatever live prey is available. The bulk of their diet consists of insects, crayfish, and other fish, but they will occasionally eat tadpoles and frogs. Early morning and evening are their most active feeding times. In the larger cool, clear interior streams the smallmouth bass is the dominant predator, feeding mostly on fish, crustaceans and larger aquatic and terrestrial insects. In some waters, food habit studies have revealed that forage fish were present in 40 percent of the stomach samples, crayfish in 30 percent and insects in 20 percent. Where crayfish are abundant, they frequently comprise over two-thirds of the food. By the time fingerling smallmouth bass are 1 1/2 inches in length, insects and small fish comprise the bulk of the diet.

Age and Growth:

Guadalupe Bass

Micropterus treculi

Micropterus means small fin and is a rather unfortunate misnomer arising from an injured type specimen that made it appear that the posterior rays of the soft dorsal fin formed a small separate fin, treculi refers to Trecul the French compatriot of Vaillant and Bocourt. Trecul actually caught the specimen.

Other Common Names: Black Bass, Guadalupe Spotted Bass

Record: 3 pounds 11 ounces

Identifying Features: Guadalupe bass have a greenish body with 10-12 dark bars along the side (similar to a smallmouth bass). The Guadalupe bass is generally green in color and may be distinguished from similar species found in Texas in that it doesn’t have vertical bars like smallmouth bass, it’s jaw doesn’t extend beyond the eyes as in largemouth bass, and coloration extends much lower on the body than in spotted bass. Looks like a spotted bass but has 10-12 diamond shaped bars along the side. The scales above the anal fin have spots which blur together to form stripes.

Range: The Guadalupe bass is found only in Texas and has been named the official state fish. It is endemic to the Northern and eastern Edwards Plateau including headwaters of the San Antonio River, the Guadalupe River above Gonzales, the Colorado River north of Austin, and portions of the Brazos River drainage. Relatively small populations can also be found outside of the Edwards Plateau, primarily in the lower Colorado River, and introduced populations exist in the Nueces River system.

Habitat: Typically, Guadalupe bass are found in flowing water, whereas, largemouth bass are found in quiet water. Gravel riffles, runs, and flowing pools on creeks and small to medium rivers


Feeding Behavior: Very young fish, and older adults tend to include more invertebrates in their diet than do largemouth bass. Juveniles and younger adults tend to include more fish in their diets than do largemouth bass.

Spawning Behavior: When: Spring or summer, Preferred Water Temperature: 60-65 °F , The male builds a gravel nest in flowing water . After the female lays up to 9,000 eggs, she is chased away and the male stands guard over the eggs until they are hatched.Guadalupe bass may spawn a second time in the summer.Both males and females become sexually mature when they are 1 year old. Guadalupe bass spawning begins as early as March and continues through May and June. A secondary spawn is possible in late summer or early fall. Like all other black bass Guadalupe bass build gravel nests for spawning, preferably in shallow water. Similar to spotted bass and smallmouth bass, males tend to build nests in areas with higher flow rates than largemouth bass. When a male has successfully attracted a female to the nest she may lay 400 to over 9,000 eggs. The female is then chased away and the male stands guard over the incubating eggs.