Written Nov 25 2005

So, do you know what this article focuses on? You might assume largemouth bass, but you would be wrong. Well, if it is not that, then you might assume striped bass. But again you would be wrong. It's not your fault - all are excellent guesses - they are the most popular bass around. But, therein lies the problem. The word bass.

Have you ever noticed how many bass there are. Let's take three of the most popular bass on the south shore - largemouth bass, striped bass, and black sea bass. These three fish are all "bass", but they aren't even closely related. Largemouth and smallmouth bass are actually part of the sunfish family, something that I'll admit disturbed me when I first found out. So, why are they bass? Why aren't they called largemouth sunfish or some other unique name?

Striped bass are members of the Percichthyidae family, a very diverse (and probably disfunctional) family that includes white bass, yellow bass, and white perch. They are described in nature journals as the largest of the temperate sea basses. But, whatever you do, don't call them sea bass.

Sea bass are members of the Serranidae family, closely related (although probably twice removed) to the groupers. They are considered the only true sea basses in nature journals (although, obviously not that temperate).

Living right next to the coast, when I tell someone I'm going bass fishing, they have absolutely no idea whether I'm heading to the ocean or to the local pond. So, why are all these fish called bass? I have no idea. It seems that bass is a rather common name applied to a huge variety of freshwater and marine species which may or may not be related to one another. Add to this, nicknames such as "black bass," "calico bass," and "red-eyed bass," and you've got yourself one heck of a bass mess. Let's take a look at just some of the fish that call themselves "bass."

Apricot Bass Plectranthias garrupellus
Bank Sea Bass Centropristis ocyurus
Blackear Bass Serranus atrobranchus
Blackmouth Bass Synagrops bellus
Black Sea Bass Centropristis striata
Cave Bass Liopropoma mowbrayi
Chalk Bass Serranus tortugarum
Harlequin Bass Serranus tigrinus
Lantern Bass Serranus baldwini
Largemouth Bass Micropterus salmoides
Longtail Bass Hemanthias leptus
Orangeback Bass Serranus annularis
Peacock Bass Cichla temensis
Peppermint Bass Liopropoma rubre
Pygmy Sea Bass Serraniculus pumilio
Reef Bass Pseudogramma gregoryi
Rock Bass Ambloplites rupestris
Rock Sea Bass Centropristis philadelphica
Roughtongue Bass Holanthias martinicensis
Saddle Bass Serranus notospilus
School Bass Schultzea beta
Smallmouth Bass Micropterus dolomieu
Snow Bass Serranus chionaraia
Spotted Bass Micropterus punctulatus
Streamer Bass Hemanthias aureorubens
Striped Bass Morone saxatilis
Twinspot Bass Serranus flaviventris
Two Spot Seabass Centropristis fuscula
White Bass Morone chrysops
Wrasse Bass Liopropoma eukrines
Yellow Bass Morone mississippiensis
Yellowfin Bass Anthias nicholsi
Yellowtail Bass Pikea mexicana

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