Guide to Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides)

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Caught largemouth bass
Largemouth bass are popular game fish, known for their fighting abilities and large sizes. Dominic / CC BY 4.0

The largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) is among the most popular freshwater game fish and is well known for its fighting ability and palatable size. This species is so popular among anglers that it is commonly stocked in artificial reservoirs and lakes outside of its native range to attract anglers to a body of water and improve its recreational value.

In addition to the largemouth bass, many other fish species are usually stocked alongside this species, including smallmouth bass and smaller prey fish, like common sunfish (genus Lepomis), as food for the largemouth bass. These artificial food webs can be self-sustaining and provide a diverse angling experience for novices and pros alike. 

Largemouth bass are top predators in their ecosystem, consuming a variety of other fish species, small mammals, and even birds. While this species is present throughout the United States and parts of Mexico and Canada, its native range extends from North Carolina to western Texas. Due to its predatory nature, the largemouth bass impacts species of smaller fish and can have detrimental effects on native fish species leading to severe population reductions and even extinctions

Black bass, green bass, largemouth bass
Micropterus salmoides
Native to North America
Aquatic invertebrates, fish, birds, mammals; highly opportunistic
65 to 80°F (18.3 to 26.7°C)
16 years
16 inches (41 cm)
Least concern

Where Are Largemouth Bass Found?

Largemouth bass in water with vegetation
Largemouth bass have a preference for areas with plenty of aquatic vegetation for them to hide in and wait for prey. Garth Harwood / CC BY 4.0

Not only are largemouth bass generalist predators, but they are also generalists regarding habitat preferences. They can survive in various freshwater habitats, including lakes, ponds, reservoirs, rivers, and backwaters. They prefer open areas with plenty of vegetation and require sufficient food sources. Vegetation and prey go hand in hand as largemouth bass will hide and hunt amongst beds of aquatic grasses or weedy patches. The presence of cover in the form of aquatic plants or debris like wood or artificial submerged structures is paramount. 

Largemouth bass spawn in spring when water temperatures reach around 60 to 75°F (16 to 24°C) although this temperature varies by location. The male creates a nest in shallow water by clearing an area on the lake or riverbed. The female lays her eggs in the nest, and the male protects them until they hatch. Unlike sunfish in the Lepomis genus, largemouth bass are solitary nesters and do not form large colonies during the nesting season. 

Why Are Largemouth Bass So Popular?

Man holding largemouth bass
One reason why largemouth bass are so popular is because they are an extremely fun catch, with the ability to put up a fight! Patrick Jackson / CC BY 4.0

There are several reasons that the largemouth is such a popular sportfish. The primary reason is that they are aggressive, exciting to catch, and huge fish. The current world record for largemouth bass is held by George Perry, who caught a bass weighing 22 pounds, 4 ounces (10.09 kilograms) in Montgomery Lake, Georgia, in 1932. This record still stands today but is contested by a reported 22-pound, 7 ounces (10.18 kg) catch in 1997. 

Their generalist diet and tolerance of various water conditions make them a great addition to lakes and reservoirs throughout the country. They are almost guaranteed to survive in waters within their temperature range, and if not, they can be routinely stocked to compensate for annual losses in non-native waters. As a result, they have been intentionally introduced to waters across the United States. Their abundance throughout the country and generalist diet means that anglers are not only more likely to encounter them but are more likely to reel one in. 

Largemouth bass have the honor of being the state fish of several U.S. states, reflecting the significance of this species as a North American recreational fishing icon. 

How to Fish for Largemouth Bass

Reeling in largemouth bass
Largemouth bass are known to fall for many different types of bait and tackle, as they will eat almost anything that can fit in their mouths. Jonathan Eisen / CC BY 4.0

As previously mentioned, adult largemouth bass are big, powerful fish, so anglers should opt to use a sturdy, medium, or heavy fishing rod with a suitable reel and a line that can withstand the strength of this species. Consider using medium to medium-heavy spinning or baitcasting rods with a strong tip. Pair the rod with a smooth drag reel and spool it with a 10- to 20-pound test monofilament or fluorocarbon line.

Since largemouth bass will eat nearly anything they can fit in their mouths, they will also fall for many different types of bait and tackle, from artificial or plastic lures to spinnerbaits and live fish found nearby. Largemouth bass are crepuscular hunters and hunt in the early morning and evening. So, fishing for them during this natural hunting time will increase the odds of hooking one. 

The best place to cast bait for largemouth bass is nearby areas with sufficient cover where they may hide. Be careful not to cast into weedy beds or mats of debris, or the bait may become tangled or snagged in the debris. The key to largemouth bass fishing is to make the bait appear like an injured fish. This can be done using various methods, for example, spinnerbaits and pauses during retrieval. Topwater lures and crankbaits are also effective. 

Lastly, if your current methods are not catching largemouths in an area where they are known to be, switch up your angling methods. This can involve changing locations, altering the retrieval method, or using a different kind of bait. Be sure to consult local wildlife officials or resources found online to understand the limits and restrictions on largemouth bass that may be enforced in your area. They may even have tips to catch largemouth bass if this species is in season. 

Can I Eat Largemouth Bass?

Of course! Once filleted and deboned, largemouth bass make for wonderful panfish and are often cooked with garlic, lemon, and various other herbs and species. It is important to note that the taste of largemouth bass can vary depending on factors such as the water quality and the fish’s diet, with poorer water quality leading to earthier-tasting filets.

Keyla P
About the author

Keyla P

I have a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources focusing on Wildlife Ecology and a minor in Entomology. I am also an award-winning student researcher with five years of experience with wildlife-related research.

Read more about Pond Informer.

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