The Frog Blog – Fish Fridays!

Today is Friday so we will be looking into another fish that may be commonly found in some of your ponds, the largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides).

A largemouth bass. Notice the black band across the body and connected spiny/soft rays (Photo Credit: Florida Museum of Natural History)

Identification

The largemouth bass is a popular sportfish that is highly sought after by anglers of all ages. They are in the family Centrarchidae along with bluegill, smallmouth bass, and other “sunfishes”. Look for a single dorsal fin that has spiny rays near the head and soft rays toward the rear, which is a defining feature of this family of fishes. True to their name, largemouth bass have a very large mouth that allow them to be effective feeders. This is also a feature that can help distinguish them from smallmouth bass, whose mouth is not nearly as large. Coloration of largemouth bass can also help identify this species as a noticeable black, horizontal band is typically present across the center of the body. This can also be a feature to separate largemouth bass from smallmouth bass since smallmouth bass may typically have multiple vertical black bands.

Ecology

Largemouth bass are considered to be a warm water fish which means that they prefer water above 76°F (but not too hot!). They can be aggressive predators that consume a great diversity of different prey sources from aquatic insects to other fishes. Some have even been known to be cannibals and consume members of their own species! Their spawning season is in the spring when their preferred spawning water temperatures have been reached. Males will typically make nests on an array of different substrates and defend the nests as well. It is relatively common to stock largemouth bass in your pond since vegetated, shallower ponds (5’ – 6’ average) are an ideal habitat for them. Be sure to stock bass with a well-balanced amount of prey as well (i.e. fathead minnows, shiners, and/or small bluegill) to support their growth. Aerators will also help by ensuring the pond is well oxygenated.

 

Happy Friday!

By: Edward Kwietniewski

Aquatic Biologist

AQUA DOC Lake and Pond Management

Edward Kwietniewski graduated from The State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF) with a Bachelor’s degree in Aquatics and Fisheries Science. He also has a Master’s degree in Lake Management from the State University of New York College at Oneonta (SUNY Oneonta). He has a love for all things aquatic and is an avid fisherman.

 

Edited by: Sharon Daneshmand