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Largemouth Bass

Micropterus salmoides

Largemouth bass are yellowish green and can grow up to 30 inches long. (Bemep/Flickr)
Largemouth bass are yellowish green and can grow up to 30 inches long. (Bemep/Flickr)

Also known as the green bass, the largemouth bass has a lower jaw that extends well past its eye and is considered one of the most popular sport fishes in the United States.

Appearance:

  • Adults can grow up to 30 inches long
  • Females grow larger than males
  • Elongate body is yellowish green, while belly is off-white
  • A dark stripe runs along the side of its body, but is sometimes absent in older fish
  • Lower jaw of large mouth extends well past its eye

Habitat:

  • Resides in fresh and low-brackish waters
  • Prefers lakes with extensive shallow areas that support submerged aquatic vegetation. Can also be found in large, slow-moving rivers or streams with soft bottoms, clear water and aquatic vegetation

Range:

  • Native to the central and eastern United States, excluding the northeastern and central Atlantic states
  • Widely introduced elsewhere in North America and around the world. Introduced to the Chesapeake Bay region in the mid-1800s, and is now common to abundant in all tributaries of the Bay

Feeding:

  • Juveniles consume zooplankton, insects and small fish
  • Adults feed on insects, fish and crayfish, with sunfish often being their prey of choice
  • Fish often feed in the early morning and late evening, near vegetation growing in shallow waters

Predators:

  • Predators include yellow perch, walleye, northern pike and muskellunge, although primary predators are humans 

Reproduction and Life Cycle:

  • Spawning occurs in the spring when water temperatures reach 54 to 64 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Males build and guard crude, saucer-shaped nests in shallow waters. Fish prefer to spawn on gravel substrate, but will also nest on other substrates, including vegetation, roots, sand, mud and rocks
  • Eggs hatch in four to six days, and larvae remain in schools under the protection of male adult for a month after hatching
  • Females reach sexual maturity at four to five months of age, while males reach sexual maturity at three to four months of age
  • Can live up to 25 years

Other Facts:

  • The largemouth bass is one of the most popular sport fishes in the United States. The record largemouth bass was caught in Georgia and weighed 22 pounds.

Sources and Additional Information:

  • Life in the Chesapeake Bay by Alice Jane Lippson and Robert L. Lippson
  • Chesapeake Bay: A Field Guide by Christopher P. White
  • Fishes of Chesapeake Bay by Edward O. Murdy, Ray S. Birdsong and John A. Musick
  • Micropterus salmoides: Bass – University of Michigan Museum of Zoology
  • Largemouth Bass – Maryland Department of Natural Resources



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