#SundayFishSketch Largemouth Bass

This #SundayFishSketch comes from Ichthyologist, Rene Martin. Visit her shop on InPrint to see more of her artwork or to order prints!


Meet the Largemouth Bass

Micropterus salmoides

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The Largemouth Bass is a freshwater fish of the Black Bass genus named for—you guessed it—its large mouth. The Largemouth Bass is different than the equally common Smallmouth Bass in that it does in fact have a larger mouth. Who knew? Depending on your location, this fish is known by a variety of other names such as green bass, black bass, bucketmouth bass, big mouth bass, largies, or Steven Tyler—the last of which I just made up.

If the Largemouth Bass was in school (not the fishy kind, but the human kind), they’d almost certainly be one of the popular kids. Maybe the football players, or at least the mascot as they are for Georgia, Mississippi, Indiana, Tennessee, Florida, and Alabama where they have earned the title of State Fish in varying forms. They are also one of the most popular gamefish and wall mounts.

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The Largemouth Bass is olive green on the top half, typically with a slightly darker, forest green band along their lateral line with a grayish white to yellow underbelly. The females of the species, which is common is many fish, is larger than the male. They have been recorded nearly 30 inches in length and just over 20 pounds. Many people may not often think of fish has being long lived creatures, but the Largemouth Bass lives for an average of about 16 years.

The Largemouth Bass feeds on a variety of foods allowing it to thrive in many areas. They eat anything from frogs to other fish, crawdads, insects and macro-invertebrates, snakes, salamanders, even small birds, bats, and the occasional baby alligator. If it can fit it in its large mouth, its fair game, swallowing whole meals up to 50% of its body length.

This versatility makes the Largemouth Bass an apex predator in many places. In areas where the water is too clear or not significantly weedy, the LMB can decimate other populations, pushing themselves into starvation. Too weedy and they themselves will starve for lack of ability to pursue prey. They require a balanced amount of vegetation to keep themselves in check. The LMB spends its time, generally, under overhangs and outcrops and along drop-offs in search of food.

In the springtime, the Largemouth Bass males use their tales to move debris away from the sandy or gravelly bottoms of their body of water in an area nearly twice their length. This is what will become their new nest. They then swim around looking for some lucky lady to make use of the nest with. Once they’ve found their catch—pun intended—they swim to the nest together, side-by-side, releasing sperm and eggs into the water, allowing the now fertilized eggs to sink down onto the nest area. Another commonality among fish, the male then does a bulk of the work, guarding the nest for a super long time—about 3 days. Though in all seriousness, the males will sometimes guard their new hatchlings for weeks after to help ensure their survival.

One final note: despite popular belief, no bass can play the bass. Just wanted to clear the air on that one.

I’ll leave you with this video of a Big Mouth Billy Bass that someone has hooked up to their Amazon Alexa.


Sources:

“Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides)”. Texas Parks and Wildlife

NatureServe. 2013. Micropterus salmoides. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T61265A18229518. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2013-1.RLTS.T61265A18229518.enDownloaded on 01 July 2018

 

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