Largemouth Bass Basics
Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides)
The average weight of an adult largemouth bass fish is between 4-6 lb. However, various factors can influence their weight; latitude, water temperature, sunlight, and food availability all impact the maximum weight that can be reached. Largemouth bass in the southern United States and northern Mexico produce the largest largemouth bass fish, as the climate and environment boast the best of these elements.
George Perry caught the largest largemouth bass on record in 1932. Weighing in at 22.5 lb, it was caught in shallow water in higher-than-normal water conditions around the spawn.
LC – Least Concern
Also Known As
In the United States, Largemouth bass are often referred to simply as ‘largemouth’ or even just ‘bass’. It may seem logical, but nobody refers to them as ‘bigmouth bass fish’. Some fishermen refer to them as ‘black bass’, but this is a misnomer, as black bass are a much greater family of bass encompassing several subspecies (including largemouth bass).
What does a largemouth bass fish look like? Largemouth bass are recognizable by their dark green bodies, which fade into white on their underbellies. Their sides are patterned by several dark marks and distinctive lateral line. The clarity of the water the largemouth bass inhabits dictates their general color, with darker waters leading to less coloration and a more silver appearance. They have a slight overbite, where the top jaw extends past the lower, increasing the size of their mouth when open, hence the name largemouth bass. Finally, the dorsal fin is effectively split into two, with a large indentation that makes the fin appear as two.
One of the critical features of a largemouth bass fish is the lateral line. This works as the fish’s sonar system, sensing vibrations in the water and allowing the fish to hunt in low visibility. This lateral line is easily visible and distinctive to the largemouth bass.
A Note on Spawning
Largemouth bass spawn late in the spring or early in the summer, depending on various environmental factors. No matter when it hits, the spawn follows a similar pattern every year. The females become very aggressive in the run-up and build nests to lay their eggs in. These nests are cleared out areas on the lake’s bottom, usually in relatively shallow water.
After the eggs are laid and fertilized by the males, the bass become extremely protective of the nest until the fry have hatched and moved on. This provides the angler with a unique situation where they can exploit the defensive nature of the largemouth bass. By pitching jigs, worms, and other soft plastics into the largemouth nests, the protective instincts of the fish are activated, drawing in bites.
A largemouth bass on spawning ground
How to Catch Largemouth Bass
Favorite Locations & Feeding Spots
Largemouth bass are ambush predators to their very core; when looking to catch one, it’s essential to keep this principle in your mind. Target areas that cast a shadow and allow the fish to conceal themselves. These types of spots enable the fish to use their superior eyesight and lateral line system to detect potential prey. Prime examples are lily pads, docks, and overhanging branches.
A good location should have a few things. Firstly, there must be a food source to draw the largemouth bass in. Secondly, there should be a good mix of deep and shallow water. Such features give the bass access to the food in the shallow regions and protection in the depths. Thirdly, structures in your target area make the spot even more desirable for the bass, allowing them to conceal themselves under or around, adding further protection from predators.
Largemouth bass can be caught all year round, although you must tailor your approach to the season.
Bass start the year attempting to conserve energy in the cold of winter. While they will feed, they are mainly looking to have easy meals that require little to no energy expenditure. If you’re looking to get a bite during the winter months, it’s worth fishing deep holes with slow-moving bait.
As spring begins, largemouth bass will start to prepare for the spawn. With warming water temperatures, the bass move into shallow water to take advantage of the heat and new food sources. This leads to very productive early morning fishing with topwater baits.
Due to high water temperature, summer can be some of the most challenging fishing all year. As the sun comes up, there is a narrow window of cool water temperatures and high light penetration. These early summer mornings can be the most fun when fishing topwater baits through lily pads and around docks.
As fall approaches, the fish will start to hunker down, and in preparation for the incoming colder months, largemouth bass will start to gather together in schools. The fish are difficult to pattern and predict, which leads the angler to attempt various approaches, depending on the day’s conditions.
It is easy to be overwhelmed with the sheer amount of tackle options there are to choose from. However, all largemouth bass fishing baits can be broken down into four categories; topwater, search baits, crankbaits, or slow baits. There is an optimal time, place, water condition, and temperature for them all.
Topwater baits are best used early in the morning, during the late spring and summer months. In this period, bass move into shallow water under the cover of darkness and hunt as the sun comes up. They are susceptible to topwater disturbances and will be very active during this time. One of the most popular topwater baits is the black buzzbait with a clacker, black trailer worm, and trailer hook.
A largemouth bass fish caught with a spinnerbait
Search baits are suitable for all seasons, except the winter, and they are best used when the fish have moved into deeper water. The angler should target submerged structures that the fish are likely to have congregated around. Then, make multiple presentations with the search bait while intermittently stopping or popping it on the retrieval. A classic search bait is a white spinnerbait with tandem willow leaf blades that are copper in color.
Crankbaits are a complex and diverse family of fishing lures. They can be used at all depths and in nearly any water condition. It is good to have a wide variety of them on standby for any number of potential situations. They shine in cold, deep, clear water conditions. Selecting the correct diving crankbait is critical as it allows you to present it in the right section of the water column.
Soft plastics and jigs can be used in a wide variety of situations and circumstances. They come into their own when the fishing can be a bit slow and are very effective during the spawn. Pitching a Texas rigged worm into a bed with a large female has resulted in many tournament victories. I find the pumpkin seed-colored fluke a devasting option on my local waters.
A rig caught largemouth bass
Top Tips for Catching Largemouth Bass
Bass are a predatory species, and they have to be fished in such a way that plays to their nature. Many bass have been caught from banks and piers, yet the most common way is by boat. This allows for quality presentations to be made to the largemouth bass fish to optimize the chances of landing one. Here are three tips that will help you catch more largemouth bass.
- Go where the fish are. The way you do this is to use your eye firstly, but if the fish are not presenting, think through the food chain. If you want to catch more bass, then pay attention to where the plants that bring in bugs are.
- Match your bait selection to the season and water conditions. The clearer the water, the more the bait must be shiny, white, and blue. If you’re fishing in muddy water, make sure your bait selection holds brown and earth tones.
- Exploit the spawning season by targeting beds with soft plastics. This is the crescendo event that bass literally live for each year. Leading up to the spawn, they pack on weight. During the spawn, they are hyper-aggressive and will be very active.