The Largemouth Bass: A Freshwater Fish
The largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) is a freshwater fish that is part of the sunfish family (Centrarchidae), which also includes bluegill, crappie, and other sunfish. It is native to eastern and central North America, as well as some parts of Canada and Mexico. It has also been brought to many other countries and continents because of its popularity as a sport fish and its ability to live in different habitats.
How does it look?
The largemouth bass has a long body that is olive-green to greenish-gray in color, with dark blotches forming a jagged stripe along each side. It has a large mouth that goes past the eye, which gives it its name. It does not have teeth on its tongue, unlike some other bass species. It has two parts of the dorsal fin: a front part with 9-11 spines, and a back part with 12-13 rays. The anal fin has 3 spines and 10-12 rays. The tail fin is slightly forked and has a dark border. The side line has 58-73 scales, and the number of scales around the tail base varies from 24-34 depending on the type of largemouth bass.
What’s the Record
The first place record for largemouth bass in the United States belongs to George Perry, who caught a massive 22-pound, 4-ounce fish from Lake Montgomery in Georgia in 1932. This record has been standing for almost 90 years and is also the world record for largemouth bass. Perry was a young farmer who went fishing with his friend Jack Page on a wooden boat that he had built himself. They used a Creek Chub Fintail Shiner as bait and took turns with a single rod and reel. Perry thought he had hooked a log at first, but then realized it was a huge fish. He fought the fish for about eight minutes and managed to land it with the help of Page. They took the fish to town and weighed it on a certified scale. The fish was so big that it fed Perry’s family of six twice. Perry’s record has become the ultimate goal for bass anglers around the world and has not been surpassed yet.
The table below shows the top five records for largemouth bass in the United States, which are all over 20 pounds. The records are based on the weight of the fish and are verified by the IGFA, which is the official authority for fishing records.
|1||22 lb 4 oz||George Perry||Lake Montgomery, Georgia||June 2, 1932|
|2||21 lb 12 oz||Robert Crupi||Castaic Lake, California||March 12, 1991|
|3||20 lb 15 oz||David L. Zimmerlee||Miramar Reservoir, California||August 25, 1973|
|4||20 lb 13 oz||Jed Dickerson||Dixon Lake, California||May 31, 2003|
|5||20 lb 8 oz||Leo Torres Jr.||Lake Casitas, California||February 4, 1990|
Are there different types of largemouth bass?
There are two recognized types of largemouth bass: the northern largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides salmoides) and the Florida bass (Micropterus salmoides floridanus). The northern largemouth bass is the more common and widespread type, while the Florida bass is only found in peninsular Florida and some parts of Georgia and Alabama. The Florida bass tends to grow bigger than the northern largemouth bass, reaching up to 97 cm in length and 10 kg in weight. It also has more branches on the pyloric caeca (a digestive organ), more lateral scales, and more scales around the tail base than the northern largemouth bass. The two types of largemouth bass can breed and produce fertile offspring, which are sometimes called F1 or intergrade bass.
Where does it live?
The largemouth bass can live in a variety of freshwater habitats, such as lakes, ponds, reservoirs, rivers, streams, canals, and swamps. It likes clear water with plenty of aquatic plants, submerged logs, rocks, or other cover where it can hide and hunt its prey. It can handle a wide range of temperatures, from 5°C to 35°C, but prefers warmer water above 15°C for breeding. It can also survive in low oxygen levels and moderate salinity. The largemouth bass is usually found near the surface or in shallow water less than 6 m deep, but it can also move to deeper water depending on the season, weather, and food availability.
What does it eat?
The largemouth bass is a carnivorous fish that eats mainly other fish, such as shad, sunfish, minnows, perch, carp, catfish, and even smaller bass. It also eats crustaceans (such as crayfish), insects (such as dragonflies), worms, snails, frogs, snakes, salamanders, mice, and birds. The largemouth bass uses its large mouth and sharp teeth to swallow its prey whole or tear it into pieces. It can also suck in water and prey by creating a vacuum with its mouth. The largemouth bass is an opportunistic feeder that will eat whatever is available and fits into its mouth. It usually hunts by sight during the day or at dawn and dusk, but it can also use its side line to sense vibrations in the water at night or in murky conditions.
How does it reproduce?
The largemouth bass reproduces in the spring when the water temperature reaches above 15°C. The male makes a nest by fanning out a circular depression on the bottom with his tail. He then guards the nest and attracts a female by making grunting sounds and showing his fins. The female lays up to 100,000 eggs in several batches on the nest, which are fertilized by the male. The female then leaves the nest and may breed with other males. The male stays on the nest and protects the eggs and hatchlings from predators for about two weeks until they swim away. The male then leaves the nest and may breed again with other females. The survival rate of the eggs and fry is low, as they are eaten by other fish, birds, turtles, and insects. The young bass grow quickly and reach sexual maturity in two to four years.
How is it conserved?
The largemouth bass is not considered endangered or threatened by the IUCN Red List, as it has a large distribution and a big population size. It is also a highly valued sport fish that supports recreational and commercial fisheries in many regions. However, the largemouth bass faces some threats from habitat loss, pollution, overfishing, disease, and competition and predation by invasive species. Some of these threats are caused by the introduction of the largemouth bass itself to areas where it is not native, such as Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and South America. In these areas, the largemouth bass can disrupt the ecological balance and reduce the diversity of native fish and other aquatic organisms. Therefore, the largemouth bass should be managed carefully and responsibly to prevent its negative impacts on the environment and other species.