Underwater Life – Bass

<song lyrics>Because you know it’s all about that bass, bout that bass, no treble.<song lyrics> Oh wait, no we’re talking about bass as in the fish! This is the fun of the English language. Multiple words that sound the same but spelled way different or spelled the exact same but pronounced way different. Interesting. Gotta love the English language, that’s for sure. Anyway back to the fish of the day, Bass. There are multiple types of bass fish, but today we’re going to focus on 4 types: Largemouth, Smallmouth, Striped and Spotted. Welcome to the world of Bass fish!

Bass is a name shared by many different species of fish. The term encompasses both freshwater and marine species all belonging to the large order Perciformes, or perch-like fishes, and the word bass comes from Middle English bars, meaning “perch”.


  • Large Mouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides)
    • Overview
      • The largest Largemouths are generally females.
      • The species name “salmoides” refers to trout (“salmo”), because the Largemouth is sometimes called a “trout” in the southern United States.
      • One nickname is “bucketmouth,” which, lik the common name “Largemouth,” is well-deserved by the fish’s gaping jaw, with which it can swallow sizeable prey.
    • Identification
      • The Largemouth is more rotund and less flattened laterally (side to side) than other members of the sunfish family.
      • The head and back are a bright-green to olivegreen color.
      • It’s sides are lighter green, and the belly is whitish or pale-yellow.
      • The upper jaw extends beyond the back edge of its eye.
      • It has a broad black stripe or a line of broken splotches running along its side from head to tail.
      • The two sections of the dorsal fin are nearly separate.
    • Habitat
      •  They prefer a warm water habitat, which is usually a pond or small, weedy lake.
      • They are also found in the shallow backwaters and coves of large lakes and in the sluggish sections of big rivers.
      • They are almost always associated with aquatic weeds, a soft bottom or stumps and downed logs.
      • They are rarely found over rocks or in depths of more than 20 feet.
    • Eats
      • About a week after spawning, the Largemouths rise above the nest in a school and begin feeding.
      • Young bass feed on zooplankton, insects and small fishes, and they are cannibalistic on one another.
      • Adult Largemouths are predators and eat mostly fish and crayfish, but they also take frogs, snakes, and even small mammals and birds, like mice and ducklings that happen onto the water’s surface
      • Largemouth Bass feed day and night
    • Life History
      • Largemouths spawn in spring and early summer, when water temperatures remain at 60 degrees for about three days
      • The typical nest is on gravel, sand or even soft mud
      • It is two to three feet in diameter, about six inches deep, and in one to four feet of water
      • usually spawn within eight feet of a shoreline and keep their nests at least 20 feet apart
      • Egg hatching takes about 10 days in 65-degree water
      • The young Largemouths stay at the bottom of the nest for about a week, until the yolk sac is absorbed
      • The male continues to guard them for as long as a month


  • Small Mouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu)
    • Overview
      • The Smallmouth Bass was native to and found only in the Great Lakes and Ohio River watersheds until the mid-1800s.
        • When the railroads spread around the country in the second half of the 19th century, so did the Smallmouth.
      • It was transported by train and eventually became a popular sport fish throughout the United States.
    • Identification
      • Smallmouth has a brownish or bronze cast to its back
      • It is lighter on the sides and has a white or paleyellow belly
      • There is a goldish sheen to its scales
      • have a series of eight to 15 olive-colored vertical broken bars along each side
      • Their upper jaw does not extend beyond the back edge of the eye.
      • The dorsal fin sections are separated by a shallow notch.
      • Their eye is orange-red and dark lines radiate from the eye backward.
      • Smallmouths may reach 20 inches or more in length
    • Habitat
      • They prefer rocky locations, more water depth and heavier current than the Largemouth Bass.
      • They hang around downed logs, stumps, stone rubble and rock outcrops, and along the steep sides of submerged creek channels.
      • They prefer streams with riffles flowing over gravel or boulders, where they are found in the pools, pockets behind rocks, or in the deeper moving water.
    • Eats
      • Young Smallmouths eat tiny crustaceans
      • Then they graduate to insect larvae, crayfish and fish
    • Life History
      • spawn in spring, when water temperatures reach 60 to 70 degrees.
      • The nest is 14 to 30 inches in diameter and usually in three or four feet of water, although it may be more than 20 feet deep in clear water
      • Several females spawn on the same nest, adding 2,000 to 7,000 eggs per pound of body weight
      • Depending on water temperature, the eggs hatch in two to nine days
      • The young fish are ready to leave the nest five or six days after that.


  • Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis)
    • Overview
      • Also referred to as the Atlantic striped bass, striper, linesider, pimpfish, rock or rockfish
      • State fish of Maryland, Rhode Island and South Carolina
      • History of the striped bass fishery in North America dates all the way back to the Colonial period
        • There are many written accounts of the first European settlers describing the immense abundance of striped bass along with alewives traveling and spawning up most rivers in the costal Northeast.
    • Identification
      • Streamlined, silvery body marked with longitudinal dark stripes running from behind the gills to the base of the tale
      • Common mature size is 3.9 feet
      • Believed to live for up to 30 years.
    • Habitat
      • They can be found in lakes, ponds, streams and wetlands.
      • They are an anadromous fish that migrate between fresh and salt water.
    • Life History
      • Spawning takes place in fresh water.
      • Striped bass have been introduced into many large resevoirs across the United States including Beaver Lake.
      • It is believed that many of the rivers and tributaries that emptied into the Atlantic, had at one time, breeding stock of striped bass.
      • The very few successful spawning populations of freshwater striped bass include Lake Texoma, Lake Weiss (Coosa River), The Colorado River and its resevoirs downstream from and including Lake Powell, and the Arkansas River


  • Spotted Bass (Micropterus punctulatus)
    • Overview
      • Also called the “Kentucky” Bass
      • This is primarily a southern fish.
      • It is common in many Ohio River tributaries in Ohio and in the southern portion of the Mississippi watershed
      • Its species name “punctulatus” means “dotted,” referring to the rows of spots along its lower sides.
    • Identification
      • They only grow to about 18 inches, and most are much smaller
      • The upper part of the head and back are a light to dark olive-green, its sides are silver-green and it has a whitish belly.
      • There is a series of dark, generally diamond-shaped spots on its sides, above a splotchy dark band that runs from head to tail
      • The spots below the lateral band give the fish its common name
      • The eyes are reddish
    • Habitat
      • Prefer long, deep, silted pools in sluggish water.
      • They can tolerate water that is more turbid than the water Smallmouths prefer.
      • In a stream, they occupy the habitat left vacant by Largemouths, which like weedy coves, and Smallmouths, which live in the rocky riffles
    • Eats
      • Young Spotted Bass eat zooplankton and insects, and then switch to crayfish and fishes as they mature.
    • Life History
      • Spawn in early summer
      • The nests are small, not more than 15 inches in diameter
      • They are made over gravel or a softer bottom on the edges of pools

Large mouth bass and small mouth bass are the most popular game fish in North America.

It is also very popular fishing in South Africa where the large mouth bass is often found in lakes and dams.


Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission

  • http://fishandboat.com/pafish/fishhtms/chap22.htm



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