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, body usually light green with a dark green lateral streak.
The Largemouth Bass is one of the most popular gamefish in Michigan. It lives in shallow water habitats; particularly among reeds, waterlilies and other aquatic vegetation. In Michigan, Largemouth Bass are seldom found deeper than 20 feet. Largemouth Bass are most active in warm waters of 70-85degrees Fahrenheit. 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 year.
Largemouth Bass 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 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. Young Largemouth Bass grow quickly and can be as large 4 to 5 inches by the end of their first summer. Anglers typically catch Largemouth Bass that are 10 to 20 inches in length, with 14 inches being the minimum legal size in most Michigan waters. Largemouth Bass can grow larger than 20 inches and exceed 7 pounds in Michigan waters.
Largemouth Bass have a varied diet. Although they prefer to eat minnows and other fish, they will also prey on crayfish, amphibians and insects (both terrestrial and aquatic). The natural enemies of Largemouth Bass include other piscivorous fish, fish-eating birds like herons, and humans. Largemouth Bass can also be parasitized by the bass tapeworm, black spot and yellow grub. None of these parasites are harmful to humans in cooked fish.
Largemouth Bass are found throughout the entire state of Michigan, including many Great Lakes waters. Most inland lakes in Michigan host a population as well. Bass tournaments are very popular events in Michigan.
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.