What bass species are discussed?

Micropterus salmoides

Description - Largemouth are usually green with dark blotches that form a horizontal stripe (lateral line) along the middle of the fish on either side. The underside ranges in color from light green to almost white. The dorsal fin is almost divided with the anterior portion containing 9 spines, and the posterior portion containing 12-13 soft rays. Largemouth bass may be distinguished from other black basses in that the upper jaw reaches far beyond the rear margin of the eye. Micropterus is Greek, meaning small fin. Salmoides is from the Greek salmo meaning trout and refers to the fact that largemouth bass have been called trout in some southern states.

Distribution - Smallmouth because of transplanting can now be found in most of the United States, Mexico, South America, Southern Canada, South Africa, Europe and Japan.

Biology - Spawning begins in the spring when water temperatures reach about 60°F.  Largemouth bass prefer to nest in quiet, more vegetated water than other black bass, but will use any substrate besides soft mud, including submerged logs. Nests are usually built in two to eight feet of water. Once the female has laid eggs in the nest (2,000 to 43,000) she is chased away by the male who then guards the precious eggs. The young, called fry, hatch in five to ten days and remain in a school. Male largemouth bass continue to guard their fry for several days after hatching. Fry feed primarily on zooplankton and insect larvae. At about two inches in length they become active predators. Adults feed almost exclusively on other fish and large invertebrates such as crayfish, but have been know to feed on snakes, ducks, and rodents.

Micropterus dolomieui

Description - A moderately large fish that at maturity range in size from 15-23 inches long.  The smallmouth coloring varies from brown or bronze with dark vertical bars to an olive green with golden flecks depending on the habitat and water conditions.

Distribution - Smallmouth because of transplanting can now be found in most of the United States, Southern Canada, South Africa, Sweden, Belgium, and other scatter pockets in Europe and Japan.

Biology - The smallmouth bass spawns over a period of 6-10 days in the late spring to early summer. The male builds a nest and the female lays approximately 7000 eggs per pound of fish. The maximum age is usually 15 years. Food includes insects, crayfish and fishes

Micropterus punctulatus

Description - Micropterus is Greek, meaning small fin. The species epithet punctulatus, Latin for dotted, refers to rows of dark spots on the lower sides. Coloration is similar to that of Largemouth bass, but does not extend as low on the body.

Distribution - Spotted bass are distributed throughout the Ohio River basin as well as the central and lower Mississippi River basin. The species may be found in Gulf coast states from Texas east to Florida.

Biology - Spotted bass have been considered intermediate between largemouth and smallmouth bass. They seem to be segregated from largemouth and smallmouth bass by habitat type. Spotted bass tend to be found in areas with more current than largemouth bass. However, they usually inhabit areas that are too warm, turbid, and sluggish for smallmouth bass. In general, although a large proportion reach maturity within a year, spotted bass found in spawning areas are usually three to four years old. Rock or gravel are usually chosen as suitable spawning areas at water temperatures of 57-74°F. Nest depths may vary widely. Females may lay between 1,150 and 47,000 eggs. Males guard the eggs during incubation, and for up to four weeks after they have hatched. As young fish grow their diet shifts from zooplankton, to insects, and finally to fish and crayfish.