Largemouth Bass, Micropterus salmoides
Identifying characteristics: (Native Fish) Two dorsal fins with a deep notch between spinous and soft-rayed portions, body longer than deep, upper jaw extends beyond rear of eye, dark lateral streak.
Another popular fish, the largemouth bass, lives in shallow water habitats, among reeds, waterlilies and other vegetation. It shares these habitats with muskies, northern pike, yellow perch and bullheads. Largemouth bass are adapted to warm waters of 80-82 degree F, and are seldom found deeper than 20 feet. They prefer clear waters with no noticeable current and do not tolerate excessive turbidity and siltation. In winter they dwell on or near the lake bottom, but stay fairly active throughout the season.
Like the smallmouth bass, they spawn in late spring or early summer. The male constructs a nest on rocky or gravelly bottoms, although occasionally the eggs are deposited on leaves and rootlets of submerged vegetation. The eggs, which are smaller than those of the smallmouth bass, hatch in three to four days. The fry rise up out of the nest in five to eight days and form a tight school. This school feeds over the nest and later the nursery area while the male stands guard. The school breaks up about a month after hatching when the fry are about one inch long.
Largemouth bass eat minnows, carp, and practically any other available fish species including their own. Young largemouth fall prey to yellow perch, walleyes, northern pike, and muskies. Both largemouth and smallmouth bass are parasitized by the bass tapeworm, black spot and yellow grub. None are harmful to humans in cooked fish.
For more information on how and where to catch largemouth bass see our Michigan Fish and How to Catch Them and Better Fishing Waters.
Largemouth bass graphic courtesy of Joseph R. Tomelleri and copyrighted.