Largemouth Bass

Micropterus salmoides

Copyright: Phil Degginger/Color-Pic, Inc.

The Largemouth Bass is one of Virginia's largest fishes, and probably the most popular sport fish.

They can grow over two feet long and weigh up to 20 pounds, although this is rare. A five pound Largemouth is considered very big.

Largemouth Bass are usually olive to dark-green in color with greenish-yellow sides. They have a dark stripe down the side of the body. The dorsal (back) fin has two parts, and the front part has spines.

Largemouth Bass get their name from their large mouths, which extend past their eyes.

Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Copyright, Texas Parks & Wildlife

Largemouth Bass live in lakes, ponds, resevoirs, large rivers, and slow-moving streams. They like a lot of vegetation, both in the water and along its edges. Largemouths will often school (group together) and can be found in groups around underwater structures, such as trees, stumps, large rocks, drop offs, and dock pilings.

Largemouth Bass will usually come into the shallows to feed in the early morning and in evenings. They will then patrol weed beds, lily pads, and other vegetation looking for food.

Adult largemouths eat mostly smaller fish. They will also eat frogs, crayfish, aquatic insects, and surface insects.

Copyright, Garold W. Sneegas

Konrad Schmidt

Largemouth Bass have interesting breeding habits.

The male will prepare the nest, usually in one to four feet of water. He will use his fins to expose gravel, shells, or plant roots on the bottom, making a circle two to three feet wide.

The males are very territorial.

Once the nest is built, the female will arrive and lay between 2,000 and 40,000 eggs, depending on her size.

The male will stay and guard the eggs, which will hatch in about a week.

When the fry (group of baby fish) hatch, they will stay in the nest for another week.

Konrad Schmidt

The fish fry (also called "larvae") will begin eating small creatures, such as copepods and waterfleas.

The largemouth larvae will stay in the school, called a "brood swarm," under the guard of their father. They will leave, to be on their own, after three to four weeks.

Because, of the large size of adult Largemouth Bass, they have few predators. When young, largemouths are preyed upon by birds, such as Great Blue Herons and raptors, and larger fish.

In Virginia, many people fish for, and eat, Largemouth Bass. It is important to know size restrictions at different bodies of water. It is often illegal to take Largemouth Bass of a certain size. When handling a Largemouth Bass, hold it by its lips or body, never by its gills. To release it, gently place it in the water and move the fish carefully back and forth to allow water to pass through its gills.

Copyright, Garold W. Sneegas

Relationships in Nature:

PREY
PREDATORS
SHELTER
OTHER

Bluegill

Great Blue Heron

Common Duckweed

Eastern Lamp Mussel Pa

Yellow Perch

Yellow Perch

Yellow Pond Lily

Golden Shiner SP

Creek Chub

Common Snapping Turtle

Pickerelweed

Common Carp EC

Crayfish

Channel Catfish

Common Reed

Beaver SP

Eastern Dobsonfly

Eastern Newt

Common Cattail

The Big Red Worm Pa

Bullfrog

Large Diving Beetle

Lizard's Tail

Black Crappie

Green Darner

Long-leaf Pondweed

Golden Northern Bumble Bee

Golden Shiner

Green Algae

Golden Shiner

Northern Water Snake

Hydrilla

Meadow Vole

Black Crappie

Marsh Bulrush

Common Snapping Turtle

Common Carp

Arrow Arum

Wood Frog

Yellow Bullhead

Green Darner

Eastern Mosquitofish

Water Flea

Bald Eagle

Channel Catfish

Green Hydra

Freshwater Leech

Ring-billed Gull

Eastern Newt

American Eel

Tesselated Darter

Double-crested Cormorant

Large Diving Beetle

Aquatic Worm

Relationship to Humans:

Laremouth Bass are one of the main targets of freshwater sport fishermen. Most are released back into their habitat, but many are eaten. Largemouths also control fish populations of smaller fish, such as Bluegill and Yellow Perch.

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

KINGDOM
Animal
PHYLUM
Chordate
CLASS
Bony Fish
ORDER
Perciformes
FAMILY
Centrarchidae
GENUS
Micropterus
SPECIES
Micropterus salmoides

QUICK LINKS

Organism Menu
Home
Glossary
Student Activities
Relationships
Classification Info
How to Use This Site
Bibliography