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What is a Largemouth Bass?

By Ken Black
Updated May 23, 2024
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A largemouth bass, known scientifically as Micropterus salmoides, is a freshwater fish native to North America. It is considered a highly-prized sportfish, perhaps the most sought-after freshwater fish on the North American continent. The largemouth bass is known for as a voracious fighter and relatively mild meat. Though they are good to eat, most fishermen do not seek them out as a food source.

Most commonly, largemouth bass caught are between 2 and 5 pounds (1 and 2.2 kg). However, it is not uncommon for them to grow as much as 10 pounds or more. The world record largemouth bass was caught near Jacksonville, Ga. on June 2, 1932 It weighed more than 21 pounds (9.5 kg) and has stood for more than 75 years as the world record.

Over the years, several have laid claim to the world record, including a very famous case in 2006. A fisherman from California laid claim to a bass that weighed as much as 25 pounds (11.3 kg) but that was never independently verified by official scales. Further, the circumstances surrounding the catching of the fish were somewhat suspicious. Therefore, the official record was never awarded to the fish, which was released after being unofficially weighed. Photographs of it were also taken.

Largemouth bass are predatory fish that inhabit both rivers and lakes across much of North America. The species feeds on other fish, frogs, bugs and other forms of aquatic life. They have no teeth. Though they can be found in Canada and Mexico as well, they are most prevalent in the United States, where entire sports associations have been dedicated to keeping the species healthy. As a popular sportfish, largemouth bass do run the risk of being overfished.

Therefore, in many states, and even in some local jurisdictions, ambitious fishery programs have been put into place that help with the management of the species. Smaller fish are raised and released into the wild, where many grow up to help repopulate lakes and rivers. It is likely that, at least in some lakes with good accessibility, the species would all but disappear from them without a conscientious management program, which also includes daily bag limits and size limits.

In fact, in some lakes and rivers, there are special rules for bass that may not apply to other waterways in the state. It is up to each angler to be aware of these rules before taking any fish from the water. In most cases, special regulations are posted at boat launches and other public places near a waterway.

Largemouth bass are identifiable by the coloration and size of their mouth, which can open vertically to be as large as their height. They have a cream-colored to white belly, which darkens to a darker greenish color toward the darker area. They also have a dark green stripe which runs horizontally down the center of the fish from gills to tail.

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Discussion Comments
By Soulfox — On Apr 18, 2014

@Melonlity -- if you ask 10 fishermen what to use to catch largemouth bass, you'll get 10 different answers. Everyone who chases those fish has a preferred bait.

Having said that, minnows work quite well. Golden shiners are particularly popular for people on the lookout for largemouth bass. Some fishermen even have preferred spots in lakes to go and grab minnows before they go fishing, so there is the possibility of getting your bait for free. Not a bad deal.

By Melonlity — On Apr 17, 2014

These may be native to North America, but the largemouth bass is far more common in the Southern United States, whereas the smallmouth bass is most often found in the North.

By the way, any suggestions on what the best bait is to catch these things?

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