What is a Black Bass?

J.L. Drede
J.L. Drede
Veterinarian with a puppy
Veterinarian with a puppy

The black bass, known also by its scientific name micropterus is genus of freshwater fish under the order centrarchidae found across much of North America. Six species of fish make up the genus and fall under the black bass name: shoal, redeye, smallmouth, sunwannee, spotted, largemouth and guadalupe. Most black bass grow to approximately 16 to 24 inches (40 to 60 centimeters) in length, with the exceptions of the largemouth, which can grow in excess of 3 feet (1 meter).

Bass fishing is a popular pastime and sport in much of the United States, and among freshwater fish the black bass is renowned for its exceptional strength and fighting capability, making them an exceptionally challenging fish to catch. The most commonly caught bass in the U.S. are the largemouth, smallmouth, spotted and guadalupe varieties.

As the largest species, the largemouth bass is sought after game by many black bass fishermen. The largemouth bass can be identified by its greenish hue and black horizontal stripes that cover its body. The largemouth bass is a predator and has been known to prey after smaller fish species, frogs, snakes, bats and small mammals. It's natural habitat is mostly in larger lakes, ponds and swamps with clear water and large over-grown banks. Fishermen enjoy fishing it because of its size and the fight it puts up. Largemouth bass are frequently seen leaping out of the water in an attempt to break free of lures. Exceptionally big largemouth bass can weigh more than 20 pounds (9 kilograms).

The smallmouth bass is usually found in clear streams with heavy rocks and gravel. It typically feeds on smaller fish and insects and can reach a maximum weight of 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms). The fish is brown in color with vertical black stripes covering much of its body. While it is much smaller than the largemouth bass, it puts up a fight when caught, and is admired by fishermen for its strength, speed and stamina. The fish is such a sought-after gaming fish that it has been introduced to lakes and streams where it is not native, creating environmental issues.

Spotted bass are more often found in lakes that are deep with gravel and rocks. They prey on crustaceans, insects, frogs and smaller fish. Its body is covered in small dark spots, hence the name. It can grow up to 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) in size but due to their more subdued behavior they are not as sought after as the smallmouth or largemouth bass.

The only black bass with a very limited habitat range is the guadalupe bass, only seen in the river of its namesake and surrounding bodies of water in Texas and Colorado. It is one of the smaller species of bass though, usually only weighing about four pounds. While a popular gaming fish, its population has been threatened in recent years, requiring most fishermen to engage in catch and release fishing.

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    • Veterinarian with a puppy
      Veterinarian with a puppy