What are Florida Bass?
Florida bass (Micropterus floridanus) are a freshwater fish and a member of the sunfish family (Centrarchidae). They are native to the southeastern United States, especially Florida, but have been introduced to other regions by stocking and illegal introductions. They are closely related to the largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), but have some distinctive features and behaviors.
How does it look?
Florida bass have a long and slender body that varies in color from a silvery-white to a brassy-green or a pale brown in murky waters. They have a dark olive mottling along the upper body and a wide black stripe that is usually split into a line of blotches and greenish-black spots along the side. They have dark bars radiating from the eye on the cheek and gill cover. The tail fin has a black margin that is more obvious in juveniles. The mouth is large, the upper jaw extends beyond the eye in adults and there are no teeth on the tongue. There are between 9 and 11 spines in the dorsal fin and 3 spines in the anal fin
Florida bass are slightly larger than the largemouth bass, with a length of up to 38 inches (97 cm) and a weight of up to 17 pounds (7.7 kg). They differ from the largemouth bass in some scale counts and genetic markers
Why are Florida Bass bigger than Largemouth Bass?
Florida bass are bigger than largemouth bass because of their genetic and environmental factors. Florida bass have a longer lifespan and a faster growth rate than largemouth bass, which allows them to reach larger sizes. Florida Bass also have the warmer weather on their side with abundant vegetation that can keeping them growing old and strong.
Florida bass are often stocked or introduced to other regions where they can hybridize with largemouth bass and produce F1 hybrids. These hybrids have a mix of genes from both subspecies and can exhibit hybrid vigor, which means they can grow faster and larger than either parent. F1 hybrids can also be more adaptable and resilient to different environmental conditions.
|Feature||Florida bass||Largemouth bass|
|Size||Up to 38 inches and 17 pounds||Up to 29 inches and 10 pounds|
|Growth rate||Faster and longer||Slower and shorter|
|Lifespan||Up to 16 years||Up to 10 years|
|Coloration||Similar to largemouth bass, but thicker through the tail and more girthy||Similar to Florida bass, but slimmer through the tail and less girthy|
|Habitat||Warm water with abundant vegetation and cover, tolerant of turbid water||Warm water with abundant vegetation and cover, intolerant of turbid water|
|Distribution||Native to peninsular Florida, introduced to other regions by stocking and illegal introductions||Native to most of eastern North America, introduced to other regions by stocking and illegal introductions|
What do they eat and what should I use to catch it?
Florida bass are opportunistic predators that eat a variety of prey items, including insects, crayfishes, fishes, frogs and plant material. Their diet varies depending on their size, season and habitat.
Florida bass typically feed near the bottom of the water column during the day and near the surface at night. They use their keen eyesight and lateral line system to locate prey. They also use their sense of smell and taste to detect chemical cues from their prey.
Florida bass can adjust their feeding behavior depending on the water temperature and the activity level of the prey. They can be caught with a variety of baits and techniques, but some of the most effective ones are:
- Soft plastic baits: These are rubbery lures that have a realistic shape and texture. They can be rigged on various hooks, weights, and jig heads, depending on the desired presentation. Some of the best soft plastic baits for Florida bass are tube baits, grubs, craws, swimbaits, and worms. They are versatile for fishing in different situations and conditions.
- Jigs: These are weighted hooks that have a skirt or a soft plastic trailer attached to them. They can be fished with a hopping, dragging, or swimming motion, depending on the type of jig and trailer used. They are ideal for fishing on the bottom and around cover. They are one of the best baits for catching big Florida bass.
- Crankbaits: These are hard plastic lures that have a curved body and a lip that makes them dive and wobble when retrieved. They can be fished at various depths and speeds, and they are good for bouncing off rocks and wood. They are effective for mimicking crawfish and baitfish that Florida bass feed on.
- Spinnerbaits: These are wire lures that have one or more blades that spin and create flash and vibration. They can be fished fast or slow, shallow or deep, and over or through cover. They are great for covering water and triggering aggressive strikes from Florida bass.
- Topwater baits: These are lures that float on the surface and create noise and disturbance when retrieved. They can be fished with pops, twitches, or steady retrieves, depending on the type of topwater bait used. They are excellent for imitating injured or fleeing baitfish and provoking explosive bites from Florida bass.
Florida bass prefer warm water with abundant vegetation and cover. They can be found in lakes, ponds, reservoirs, rivers, and streams that have these characteristics. They are usually more tolerant of turbid water than largemouth bass.
Florida bass can be found in different depths and locations depending on the season and the water temperature. In the spring, they move from their wintering areas in deep water to shallow areas near spawning sites. They prefer to spawn in vegetated areas with soft bottoms.
In the summer, they may stay in shallow areas or move to deeper areas with cooler water and more oxygen. They often seek out edges of vegetation, drop-offs, points, humps, and channels that have access to both shallow and deep water. They also like to use cover such as weeds, wood, docks, and bridges.
In the fall, they become more active and feed heavily to prepare for winter. They may roam around in search of baitfish or crayfish, or they may stay near their summer haunts. They often school up and chase baitfish on the surface or near the shore.
In the winter, they slow down and move to deeper water with stable temperatures and oxygen levels. They may suspend near the bottom or near structure such as weed beds, brush piles, or creek channels. They feed less frequently and less aggressively than in other seasons.
Florida bass are a unique and trophy fish that can be caught with a variety of baits and techniques. They are native to the southeastern United States, especially Florida, but have been introduced to other regions by stocking and illegal introductions. They are closely related to the largemouth bass, but have some distinctive features and behaviors. They prefer warm water with abundant vegetation and cover. They can be found in different depths and locations depending on the season and the water temperature. They are opportunistic predators that eat a variety of prey items, including insects, crayfishes, fishes, frogs and plant material.