Where Are Largemouth Bass Found?


Where Are Largemouth Bass Found?

Did you know that the largemouth bass is one of the most widely distributed fishes in the world? This is due in a large part to the popularity of bass fishing as a sport.

Which has led to the introduction of largemouth bass populations into many areas where they are not native.

The original range of the largemouth bass is the eastern half of the United States it is now found generally in the majority of the United States, including swamps, ponds, lakes, reservoirs, creeks and large rivers in South Africa, Europe, Guam, Japan, Lebanon, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

Common Names of Bass

Common names for bass are largemouth bass, bass, American black bass, bayou bass, bigmouth bass, black bass, bucket mouth.

They are also called chub, green bass, green trout, lake bass, large-mouth bass, largemouth, largemouth black bass, and line side. There is also marsh bass, northern largemouth bass, Oswego bass, slough bass, southern largemouth, trout, and Welchman.

Size, Age, and Growth

The largemouth bass has an average length of 18 inches but they may attain a length of 24 inches or more. The world record largemouth bass was caught in 1932 in Montgomery Lake, Georgia. The fish weighed in at 22 pounds, 4 ounces (10.09 kg).

Females may reach a maximum age of 9 years, while the males reach a maximum of 6 years.

14 Lb Largemouth Bass
14 Lb Largemouth Bass Courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife

Largemouth Bass Conservation

The largemouth bass is widely distributed and as such, is not listed as endangered or vulnerable with the World Conservation Union (IUCN).

This is a union of states, governmental agencies, and non-governmental organizations in a partnership to access the conservation status of a species.

Largemouth Bass Habitat

The largemouth bass lives in all types of water these include swamps, ponds, lakes, reservoirs, creeks, and large rivers. The bass can even be found in estuaries.

It prefers weedy oxbows and clears floodplain lakes. Since it is generally warm water fish  (81-86°F, (27.2°-30°C)), it is seldom found at depths of more than 18 feet. During the winter, largemouth bass will generally move into the deeper waters.

 In the spring, the largemouth will migrate into the bays that have warmed up sooner than that of the main body of water.

During the day, the largemouth bass will sometimes cruise above aquatic plants at depths of 3 to 9 ft. or lie under lily pads.  They will also lay in the shade of overhanging trees, piers, or brush.

In the evenings, largemouth bass will tend to move into shallow water to feed. After night falls, they return to deeper water, where they rest on the bottom under logs or trees.

In the colder temperate climates, the largemouth bass will generally move into deeper waters during the winter months. Then when the weather changes, they will move into the warmer, shallow waters in the early springtime.

Fishing for Largemouth Bass

The largemouth bass is among the most sought after species of freshwater game fish in the world. Due to its broad range and popularity as a sport fish, numerous fishing methods have been devised to catch this fish.

Numerous artificial lures have been developed to entice these fish into biting including plastic worms, jigs, plugs, and spinners.

Among the most exciting methods of fishing for the largemouth bass involves surface plugs which can incite vicious strikes on the surface where they are visible to the angler.

Live bait fishing is also popular among bass fishers. Nightcrawlers, leeches, crawfish, and minnows are all commonly used live baits in different regions of the U.S.

Evening and morning times are usually the best times when fishing for the largemouth bass. The largemouth liking for heavy cover makes it a challenge to land.

A hooked largemouth usually heads for the surface, it opens its mouth wide, shaking its head or jumping in an attempt to throw, or get rid, of the hook.

Once it has done this, it will dive under the cover and begin to wrap the line around logs and weeds located in the water.

Largemouth bass flesh is moderately firm and has a mild flavor. If taken from lakes where the predominant cover is weeds, the flesh may have a grassy taste

Largemouth Bass Diet

Largemouth bass eats a variety of things like small fish, insects, mosquitoes, blackfly larvae, mayfly nymphs, worms, and adult insects. They also consume mussels, crayfish, snails, tadpoles, frogs, salamanders, mice, and even turtles.

In general largemouth bass feed at all hours, but most often in the early morning or late in the day. In some cases, the prey is not completely swallowed up initially; it is caught and held in the jaws and then it is sucked in.

Largemouth Bass Reproduction

Spawning Largemouth Bass
Spawning Largemouth Bass Courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife

The largemouth bass usually will not spawn at temperatures much below 64°F (17.8°C). Their optimal spawning conditions is when the water temperature is around 18.9°-20.0°C.

This usually correlates to between February (for the extreme southern end of its range) and July (in northern latitudes). The selection of nest sites by the male generally begins when water temperatures reach 60°F (15.6°C).

The male largemouth bass begins the spawning process by clearing out a small depression in the bottom substrate. The nests are made and cleared in fairly shallow water on bottoms that are composed of sand, gravel, or pebbles.

The male then attracts a gravid (egg-laden) female and together they pass over his bed, releasing sperm and eggs. She will usually lay from 2,000-145,000 eggs with much of this variation attributed to her physical size.

Shortly after she spawns, the female will depart and the male is left to guard the developing eggs. The male will fast while he defends the eggs from predators and debris until they hatch 3-7 days later.

After they hatch, the young largemouth bass fry is transparent and 3 mm in length. After hatching, the young remain in the bottom of the nest until the yolk is absorbed from the eggs, which usually lasts a period of 6 to 7 days.

They then rise from the nest, and begin feeding on zooplankton and schooling, where they are 5.9- 6.3 mm long and have changed color to become pale green.

When the young largemouth bass begins to grow, their diet will change to insects and other small fishes and then eventually switches to larger fishes, salamanders, crayfish, and a variety of other small organisms.

The largemouth bass can create hybrid fish by spawning with the smallmouth bass, rock bass, bluegill, warmouth, and black crappie.

Predators

Yellow Perch
Yellow Perch

The larva and the juveniles of largemouth bass may fall prey to yellow perch, walleye, northern pike, and musky as well as water birds such as great blue herons and kingfishers.

However, adult largemouth bass is considered one of the top predators in many habitats where they reside and rarely become prey items due to their size, swimming speed, and protective dorsal spines.

Some Other Dangers for Largemouth are Parasites

An enemy of the largemouth bass is the bass tapeworm, which attacks the reproductive organs, resulting in sterile bass. The ectoparasitic protozoan, Scyphidia tholiformis, is one of the most common parasites.

The fungus Saprolegnia may attack dead eggs. Parasites such as protozoa, copepods, roundworms, tapeworms, flatworms, and leeches are common in the largemouth bass.

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