Game Fishing > Sunfish Family, Centrarchidae > Large-Mouth Black-Bass

Large-Mouth Black-Bass

Large-Mouth Black-BassThe large-mouth black-bass was also first described by the French ichthyologist Lacepede, in 1802, from a drawing and description sent to him from South Carolina by M. Bosc, under the local name of "trout-perch." Owing to the vernacular name, he gave it the specific name of salmoides, "salmon-like" or "trout-like."

Thirty years before, pressed skins of the large-mouth bass had been sent to Linnaeus by Dr. Garden from Charleston, South Carolina, under the name of "fresh­water trout," but Linnaeus failed to describe or name it.

The black-bass is called "trout" to this day in the Southern states. The large-mouth black-bass is very similar in appearance to the small-mouth bass. It is not quite so trimly built, being somewhat more "stocky" and robust. Its mouth is larger, the angle reaching behind the eye. It has larger scales, and those on the cheeks are not much smaller than those on the body, while in the small-mouth bass the cheek scales are very small compared with its body scales.

The large-mouth is more muscular, and has a broader and more powerful tail. Its distribution is perhaps wider than that of any other game-fish, its range extending from Canada to Florida and Mexico, and, through transplantation, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It has also been introduced into Germany, France, Russia, and the Netherlands, where it is greatly esteemed both as a game-fish and food­fish.

The coloration of the large-mouth bass is often of the same hue as the small-mouth bass, though usually it is not so dark, being mostly bronze­green, fading to white on the belly. When markings are present, they tend to form longitudinal streaks of aggregated spots, and not vertical ones, as in the small-mouth.

Its habits of feeding, spawning, etc., are very similar to those of the small-mouth fish. It prefers stiller water, and is more at home in weedy situations, and will thrive in quiet, mossy ponds with muddy bottom where the small-mouth would eventually become extinct; on the other hand, the large-mouth can exist wherever it is possible for the small-mouth to do so.

It is better able to withstand the vicissitudes of climate and temperature, and has a wonderful adaptability that enables it to become reconciled to its environment. The feeding habits of the two black­basses are much the same, though they differ as to their haunts.

The large-mouth favors weedy rather than rocky places, and though its food is also much the same, the large-mouth is perhaps more partial to frogs and minnows, in the absence of crawfish, which, like the other species, it prefers.

In the Northern states it hibernates, and reaches a maximum weight of six or eight pounds, while in the Gulf states, where it is active the year round, it is taken weighing twenty pounds or more. In Florida I have taken it on the fly up to fourteen pounds, and up to twenty pounds with natural bait. In waters where it coexists with the small-mouth bass there is no difference in their excellence as food-fish. I have often caught the large-mouth bass from the clear­water lakes of Utah and Washington, that, with the single exception of the whitefish of Lake Superior, were the best of all fresh-water fishes. And I can truly say the same of those from some of the large rivers of Florida, notably the St. Lucie, St. Sebastian, and New rivers.

It prefers to spawn on gravel or sand, but if such situations are lacking, it makes its nest on a clay or mud bottom, or on the roots of water­plants; or in ponds of very deep water without shallow shores, it will spawn on the top of masses of weeds, in order to get near enough to sunlight. In other respects its breeding habits are similar to its cousin the small-mouth, the time of incubation and the guarding of the eggs and young being about the same.