Largemouth Bass
Typical Size
10-12" (1/2 - 1 lb.)
Decent Size
13-15" (2-5 lbs.)
Nice Size
16-20" (6-10 lbs.)
38.3" (22 lbs. 4 oz.)
Awards Program
Qualifying Size

7-1/2 lbs.
Genus/Species Micropterus salmoides
Common Names black bass, bucketmouth, mossback, green trout
Hot Spots Lake Nippinicket, Cleveland Pond, Stetson Pond
Best Time Spring/Summer
Best Baits minnows, soft plastics, top-water swimming plugs
Best Method Live bait fishing, jigging, top-water plugging
Largemouth Bass are easily distinguished by a dark mottled horizontal stripe that runs along the middle of each side of the fish. This single stripe is set upon an olive green back that is very dark or very light, depending upon the color and turbidity of the water. Clear water with little vegetation tend to produce very pale green, almost white bass, where murky and weedy water tend to produce strikingly dark green, almost black bass. The underside is usually white or very pale in color. The dorsal fin is almost divided, with the spiny dorsal fin containing 9 spines and the soft dorsal fin containing about a dozen flexible rays. Largemouth bass get their name from the fact that the upper jaw reaches far beyond the rear margin of the eye, unlike other bass.

Largemouth Bass
Largemouth bass are the most sought after freshwater fish.
Largemouth Bass prefer clear, relatively shallow areas of ponds and lakes that are surrounded by cover such as aquatic vegetation, submerged timber, or rock outcroppings. However, largemouth bass can can tolerate a wide range of conditions including water with low oxygen and pollution. They can even be found in swift moving rivers and brackish waters. And, although largemouth bass can handle wide temperature fluctuations, they tend not to eat if the change is drastic. Largemouth bass are very agressive apex predators and will attack a bait with a sudden ferociousness, making them a favorite of sport fishermen. Largemouth bass feed actively throughout all four seasons but are more lethargic during periods of extreme heat or cold. They prey heavily upon other fish, frogs, invertebrates, and insects. They are a solitary fish, not known to school together in any kind of numbers.

Largemouth bass range east of the Colorado Rockies from Canada to Mexico. Although they have been introduced practically everywhere, they are not nearly as common along the western US, Canada, or Mexico. They are not indigineous to the south shore of Massachusetts, however, it is difficult to find a body of water around here that doesn't contain largemouth bass. They are easily found close to shore during the spring and fall, and at dawn and dusk in the summer months. As winter comes, they tend to move to deeper water.

Largemouth bass spawn in late May and early June close to shoreline vegetation or structure such as timber, overhanging tree branches, or rocks. The male bass does all the work building the nest by fanning the sand with his tail, making a circular impression on the bottom. The female is courted, swimming in circles with the male bass until she lays her eggs in a gelatinous masses within the bed. She then leaves and the male is left to fertilize the eggs and guard the nest until the young hatch in about a week. The small fry, numbering in the thousands, stay packed together in a tight school, protected by the male bass. The male bass does not feed for the entire duration of spawning and hatching. Soon, however, the urge to eat is overwelming and the male bass leaves the young to fend for themselves, never to return. During the next few weeks, most the young bass will be eaten by predators. Those that survive to two inches in length tend to become the next generation of bass. Largemouth bass spawn once a year from the age of 2 (10 inches) until their lifespan is reached.

There have been whole books written soley on largemouth bass fishing. There are several magazines entirely devoted to bass fishing. And there are fishermen who dedicate themselves to only catching largemouth bass. With that kind of fanaticism, there is little I could write that hasn't already been said a million times over. And while largemouth bass fishing is popular here on the south shore of Massachusetts, it cannot compare to other regions. This probably stems from that fact that you can routinely catch schoolie stripers here that are larger than most freshwater bass.

Be that as it may, I will say that fishing for largemouth bass is very rewarding. They grow larger in size than most other freshwater fish, are very aggressive, and can be caught on a wide variety of both natural and artificial baits. Live shiners are probably the best natural bait, but you can also catch them on baits such as nightcrawlers, salamanders, crayfish, and frogs. The same live bait rig used for pickerel will work well for largemouth bass too. The key is to get your minnow close enough to areas of structure or thick vegetation without having it hide out of site.

The best method for taking largemouth bass is by using artificial lures. Personally, I prefer inexpensive lures like soft plastic grubs and worms, pitched and twitched along a weedline or area of structure. A weedless rubber worm rig works well, as do Sluggos and swimming soft plastic shad bodies. Spinnerbaits, floating swimming plugs, top-water buzzbaits and jigs are all very effective as well. Trolling swimming plugs will take some bass, but not nearly as many as can be caught drifting over an area of structure. Spinners and spoons tend to catch smaller bass.

Fishing for largemouth bass is an extremely important recreational fishery that, along with trout, constitute for the greatest amount of fishing licenses sold. Here on the south shore of Massachusetts, we are blessed with large numbers of excellent bass-producing ponds. I've only eaten largemouth bass once and found the flesh to be generally white, flaky, and low in oil content. The flavor is subtle with a slight muddy taste. Fillets usually are fried, while larger ones may be baked. Considering the mercury warnings of freshwater fish in general, I would not recommend consuming this species.