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Largemouth Bass

LARGEMOUTH BASS

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Micropterus salmoides

CHARACTERISTICS: The largemouth bass is a heavy-bodied fish with 56 to 70 lateral line scales and a large mouth, with the upper jaw usually extending past the rear margin of the eye. The area between the spiny and soft dorsal fin is deeply notched; the anterior part contains nine to 11 spines, the posterior part 12 to 14 rays. The anal fin has three spines and 10 to 12 rays. Dorsal and anal fin bases are usually scaleless or only marginally scaled. The tongue lacks teeth. The back is olive green to brown, and the greenish sides are marked with a broad black band composed of somewhat oval blotches connected by shorter blotches. The venter is white, and between it and the lateral stripe are several rows of scales with darkened center, giving the fish a striped appearance. The dorsal, caudal, and pectoral fins are varying shades of green; pelvic and anal fins are clear to white.

ADULT SIZE: 12 to 30 inches (300 to 762 mm). The Alabama state angling record (16 lb, 8 oz) was caught in Mountain View Lake, Shelby County, in 1987.

DISTRIBUTION: Native populations of Micropterus salmoides occur throughout the eastern United States. Extensive stockings of the Florida subspecies, M. s. floridanus, and the mainland subspecies, M. s. salmoides, have expanded the range of this species from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast and from southern Canada into Mexico. The Florida subspecies of largemouth bass has been selectively stocked in Alabama since 1971 and continues to be stocked by state and private fisheries biologists.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Largemouth bass occupy almost all aquatic habitats in Alabama. Thriving in lakes, ponds, and reservoirs, they are more tolerant of turbidity and slack current than are other Micropterus species. Most of the large individuals landed in Alabama, including the state record, come from well-managed private lakes. Spawning occurs from April to late May, when water temperatures reach 63º to 68ºF (17º to 20ºC).

Largemouth bass prey upon bluegills and redear sunfish in stocked ponds and upon shad, minnows, smaller sunfishes, crayfishes, and amphibians in natural habitats. Etnier and Starnes (1993) report an average life span of 10 to 12 years in Tennessee. Studies by biologists for the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division indicate similar maximum ages in Alabama.

REMARKS: The largemouth bass is the primary target species of most recreational and tournament bass anglers in North America.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Lacepède described the largemouth bass in 1802.

ETYMOLOGY:
Micropterus means small fin.
Salmoides is from salmo, the name originally applied to this species.

The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.

ADDITIONAL COMMON NAMES: In the southeast, anglers also call largemouth bass: bigmouth bass, bucketmouth bass, openmouth bass, hog, hawg, lineside, bigmouth trout, green trout, pond trout, lake trout, chub, greenbass, Oswego bass, and Welshman, according to Cloutman and Olmstead in Fisheries (Vol. 8, No. 2).

The largemouth bass is the official "Alabama State Freshwater Fish." A State Fish Art Contest is held annually for four student age groups.

More photographs of largemouth bass, including closeups, are available from the Wisconsin Fish Web site.

Note: In Alabama, it is illegal to stock or move a bass or any fish, mussel, snail or crayfish to any public water without a permit.


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