There is no species of gamefish more popular with anglers than the largemouth bass, particularly here in North America.
So popular in fact that they have been introduced to many parts of the world, sometimes with negative consequences.
In situations where they are invasive species such as in Japan’s Lake Izunuma-Uchinuma, the largemouth has drastically decreased populations of native stocks, pushing some to the brink of extinction.
However, here in North America and in particular in the U.S., there’s no disputing largemouth bass rank as the number one gamefish with recreational fishermen.
Evidence to their enormous popularity can be seen locally as well as nationally, with annual sponsored largemouth bass tournaments, both big and small, attracting anglers from around the country. Four states – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi – recognize the largemouth as their official state freshwater fish or state fish.
Largemouth Bass Facts
Largemouth bass are absolutely, without a doubt, the most voracious eaters of the bass fish and are indiscriminate about what they eat to boot! It is not for nothing that largemouth bass also go by the monikers of bucketmouth, and bigmouth! They also have other names such as Florida largemouth, southern largemouth, and black bass, but these, you must admit, are not as colorful as bucketmouth.
One point that needs clearing up is that although the largemouth is also known as black bass, they are not the same. Although there is a separate, distinct black bass species, most all bass are commonly referred to as black bass.
The largemouth can live up to 16 years or more according to studies, and they can get quite big as anyone who has ever fished them can tell you.
The current official IGFA world record of 22 pounds and 4 ounces was set in 1932 at Montgomery Lake in Georgia by George W. Perry. The record was tied in 2009 by Japanese angler Manabu Kurita but it still stands today.
However, unofficially, there have been one or two catches said to have been even bigger, including a 25.1 lbs bass caught in southern California on Lake Dixon. The fish, which was released, was weighed with a handheld scale and not on a scale that was certified.
Largemouth Bass Fishing Tips
Most largemouth bass can be found just about anywhere you look. Just as they are not discriminatory about their diet, they also seem not to be discriminatory about where they live. They are territorial, but being the insatiable feeders that they are, you will find that largemouth bass will go where the food is abundant.
Rocky areas with holes and cracks where crawfish, darters, and other prey fish can hide provide good feeding grounds. Largemouth Bass hold around rocks large enough to create caves and shadowed areas for protection. Boulders and rock slabs are particularly attractive when they’re located in or adjacent to weed beds.
Riprap placed along dam faces and bridges also represent important bass cover in reservoirs. Its crevices provide feeding opportunities, and the placement of riprap often provides a path from deep water to the shallows that bass use on a daily or seasonal basis.
Although you can catch largemouth during just about any season, winter included, they normally tend to come out and play from early Spring to late Summer. This is because largemouth bass prefer warmer waters (although not too warm!), and will not be as active during the colder winter months.
Pre-spawning bass present one of the best opportunities as water temperatures begin to warm and they move into the shallows and increase their feeding.
Largemouth bass, and indeed all bass varieties, need oxygen to survive, and warmer waters carry more oxygen than do the colder waters. Although, having said, if the temperatures soar too high and the waters heat up considerably, the oxygen level does go down.
This drop in the levels of oxygen when things to start to heat up, coupled with the fact that largemouth bass have sensitive eyes, is what sends them in search of cooler waters. The eyes of the largemouth are sensitive, to enable them to see in decidedly murky conditions, so they won’t expose their eyes to harsh sunlight such as when the sun is directly overhead.
Going down that path, you will then find that sometimes the more wily largemouth bass hide away during the daytime and only come out as the dusk begins to fall, thus avoiding the avid bass fishermen, as well as the harsh light of the sun.
Largemouth Bass Tackle
These aggressive ambushers are always lurking and waiting for something to pounce on, even when they are not actively feeding – it’s in their DNA. Having said that, largemouth can be targeted with so many different approaches. They can be fished with spinning, baitcasting or even fly tackle.
On the bait side of things, natural baits, live or dead can be used (live is always better, of course) – insects, frogs, small baitfish, crayfish, shrimp and even small snakes.
Many largemouth anglers, though, prefer artificial baits for their convenience and versatility. This includes soft plastic baits, crankbaits, plugs, spinnerbaits and so on.
But the thing to keep in mind is not so much the type of bait/lure but the conditions. What time of year is it, is there structure where they might be hiding in, is the water warm or still cold, is it the pre-spawning season, etc? Taking a trip with a bass guide or fishing charter service can be a great way to learn the largemouth bass fishing techniques that work for your particular area.
Largemouth bass are a fascinating fish to go after, and for some people, if they have a story of the “one that got away”, the pursuit of “this bass” can be their reason for going largemouth bass fishing! But there are so many good reasons that we could spend an eternity listing them all.
I happen to love it because largemouth bass fishing is great sport, not to mention the fact they are so darn aggressive and can grow so large in size – presenting me with the always alluring thought of landing that trophy bucketmouth!