LARGEMOUTH BASS

DID YOU KNOW? The record largemouth bass was 32 1/2 inches long, 28 1/2 inches around, 22 pounds 4 ounces and was caught in Montgomery Lake, Ga., in 1932.

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Micropterus salmoides. Micropterus meaning small or short fin, and salmoides meaning trout-like.

COMMON NAMES: Largemouth bass, large mouth, largemouth, black bass, green bass.

DESCRIPTION: The largemouth bass is characterized by its laterally compressed body and large mouth. Its lower jaw is longer and extends farther out than its upper jaw. Unlike the closely related smallmouth bass the maxillary does extend beyond the center of the eye. It has two dorsal fins that are joined and a slightly forked caudal fin. Body coloration is bright green to olive fading to a milky-white to yellow belly. A dark horizontal stripe is present in most individuals. No lateral barring like the smallmouth bass is present. The average length is about 8 to 15 inches.

LIFECYCLE: Geographic location, temperature and growth rates effect the size and age of maturation in largemouth bass. It usually spawns in the late-spring to mid-summer months, peaking in mid-June. Spawning behavior generally begins when water temperatures reach 60 degrees F. Males build the nest. Spawning substrate usually consists of soft mud, marl or sand in the cover of vegetation, usually in water 1-4 feet deep. The female deposits between 2,000 and 100,000 eggs, and the male guards the nest and the young until they leave the nest site. The fertilized eggs commonly hatch in 3-5 days, and the juvenile largemouth bass will leave the nest about one week after hatching and form a small school until they disperse along the shore lines.

RANGE: Its native range was southeast North America from the Great Lakes to Texas. It has been introduced in most of the same places as the smallmouth bass, and is now distributed in most of North America and Canada where habitat is suitable.

HABITAT AND ECOLOGY: Largemouth bass are commonly found in waters less than 20 feet deep and prefer shallow weedy lakes and backwater areas of large rivers with slow moving water. They are most commonly found associated with heavy growth of vegetation, soft bottoms, and various cover such as stumps, trees, water lilies, and cattails. The largemouth bass's diet evolves from small food items such as plankton and insects as juveniles, to fish, crayfish, and frogs as adults.

ECONOMIC VALUE: Like the smallmouth bass, the largemouth bass is one of the major sport fishes in the Pacific Northwest. Its excellent fighting ability and good taste make it a valuable resource and great source of recreational fishing adventures. Various largemouth bass TV shows, magazines, clubs and fishing derbies can be a great source of recreation.

SMALLMOUTH BASS

DID YOU KNOW? The world record smallmouth bass was taken in Kentucky in 1955, and was 27 inches long and weighed 11 pounds 15 ounces.

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Micropterus dolomieui. Micropterus meaning small or short fin, and dolomieui, after M. Dolomieu, a French mineralogist and friend of Lacepede, after whom dolomite was named.

COMMON NAMES: Smallmouth bass, black bass, green bass, northern smallmouth bass.

DESCRIPTION: The smallmouth bass has a laterally compressed body, with a large head and mouth, with the lower jaw extending slightly farther out than the upper jaw. Unlike the closely related largemouth bass the maxillary does not extend beyond the center of the eye. It has two joined dorsal fins and a slightly forked caudal fin. Color varies with habitat and geographical location. It is normally golden to dark olive brown or black on the back and upper sides fading to a lighter more yellowish or golden coloration, with 8 or more vertical bars present. The belly is yellowish to white and the head has 3 horizontal strips. It' average length is 8-15 inches.

LIFECYCLE: Smallmouth bass are spring spawners, typically spawning in mid-April to July when water temperature is 55-65 degrees F. Timing varies with geographical location and water temperature. Spawning generally takes place over a period of 6-10 days. Females can produce 2,000 to 20,000 eggs. The male digs a shallow nest and guards it until the young leave. Eggs hatch in 4-10 days, and the young will leave the nest about 2 weeks after hatching. Smallmouth bass often live 8 to 12 years and mature when 3-4 years old.

RANGE: The native range of smallmouth bass was eastern central North America. It was first introduced to the West coast in the late 1800's, and is now distributed throughout North America and Canada wherever the habitat conditions are suitable.

HABITAT AND ECOLOGY: Streams with alternating pools and riffles support the largest populations of smallmouth bass. Good lake or reservoir conditions are characterized by clear water, gravel shores, large area, and an average depth over 29 feet. Spawning locations can vary from creeks and tributaries to rocky lake shores, river shallows, and backwater areas. Clean rock or gravel substrates are important characteristics in smallmouth bass spawning locations. They prefer to spawn in water 1-2 feet deep but may build nests in waters as deep as 20 feet. Nests are commonly built in gravel or rocky substrate, near cover and in very low water velocity areas. Smallmouth bass prefer to live in cover where they can find protection from the light. Good cover can be characterized by a large variety of conditions like: deep, dark water; boulders; rocks; stumps; root-wadds; and trees.

The diet of smallmouth bass gets progressively larger as the fish grows. Juveniles feed primarily on microcrustaceans and gradually feed on larger insects, crayfish, and other fish as they mature. Prey items will vary geographically and by abundance.

ECONOMIC VALUE: The great fighting ability of smallmouth bass has attracted recreational fishermen for years. There are numerous bass TV shows, magazines, and clubs nationwide. The smallmouth bass fisheries support numerous derbies and recreational fishing opportunities throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Streamnet: Tuesday, 05-May-98