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The black bass family of the sunfish species, its habitats, characteristics, fishing methods.

The black bass family of the sunfish species includes the Largemouth, Smallmouth, Guadalupe, Roanoke, Redeye, Shoal, Spotted, Suwannee, Rock and Bartramís. The black bass is native to North America only. The black basses are distributed throughout a large area east of the Rocky Mountains in North America, from the Hudson Bay basin in Canada to northeastern Mexico including California. Several species, notably the largemouth and smallmouth basses, have been very widely introduced throughout the world, and are now considered cosmopolitan. Black bass of all species are highly sought-after game fish and bass fishing is an extremely popular sport throughout the bass's native range. These fish are well known as strong fighters, and their meat is eaten, being quite edible and firm, though catch-and-release fishing is becoming more popular in order to preserve fish populations.

Black Bass Family Species diagram All Black Bass family species have a single dorsal fin with spines in the forward section. Their bodies are deeply compressed laterally, and the attachment of the pelvic fins is far forward, nearly beneath the pectoral fins. They have 3 or more spines at the front of the anal fin, and their scales have rough edges.
    Black bass reproduce in the spring and early summer by building nests for egg laying. Some construct saucer-like nests close to one another in colonies, while others seek more secluded habitats. Black bass males will protect the nest during spawning. Several species of the family inhabit cool-flowing streams, while others prefer quiet, warm, mud-bottomed ponds and lakes. Most are carnivorous and prey upon small fishes, while others that live in the shelter of weed beds consume mostly aquatic insects and larvae. They are opportunistic and always on the alert for a drifting, helpless fish or insects to devour. Most are alert to food items falling on the waterís surface and will instantly rush to the scene to engulf the food.
    The fish species from the black bass family is interesting in that the smallest at 12 inches rarely grow to more then a pound while the Largemouth can grow to more then 20 pounds. The bass has a life span of more then 10 years and even may reach 16 years or more.

Largemouth Bass

    The Largemouth Bass is by far the most popular fish species in this family. They grow to be the biggest and are the most wide spread of all the bass in this family. They possess two, joined dorsal fins the first being spiny-rayed and the second, soft-rayed. These joined fins tells us that the largemouth bass is a member of the sunfish family. The head and back of this species is typically bright green to olive in colour, with a white underside. A dark lateral band is present extending from behind the gill cover to the caudal fin but often becomes broken or not as visible in adults. They have a whiter and lighter color belly then their cousins. The horizontal band that runs the length of the fish is dark and very distinctive. The jaw also tells this fish apart from the others by running to a point past the rear of the eye.
Largemouth will often feed in schools in well-vegetated areas. They feed on other fish, insects, crayfish and frogs.
    The Largemouth has the same five senses as most other game fish. Sight, sound, smell, taste and the lateral line. The Largemouth Bass uses each of these different senses to different degrees depending mostly on the water clarity and environment that they live in. There are 4 main time periods during the spawn that are important to know. Pre pre-spawn, pre-spawn, spawn and post spawn. If you take stock of these 4 main time periods and determine what stage the fish are in, you can have very successful days no matter what the water temp is or where the fish are at.

Smallmouth Bass

    The Smallmouth Bass is also a very popular fish species in the black bass family. They grow rather moderately large but not as large as the Largemouth and are not as widespread. The Smallmouth Bass is characterized by its deep olive-green to bronze golden-brown coloring, with a white belly. The are commonly known as bronze backs due to their coloring. It differs from the largemouth in that it has 8 to 15 vertical bars along the flank. One of the easiest ways to tell a largemouth bass from a smallmouth bass is by the size of their mouths. The mouth of a small mouth bass is considerably smaller. This can be easily seen in the field by looking at the fishes maxillary (corner of the mouth). In smallmouth bass, their mouth ends at the center of their eye, while in largemouth bass, their mouth extends right past their eye, hence the name largemouth and smallmouth.

Spotted Bass

    The Spotted Bass is a bit more rare but still a highly sought after memeber of this fish species family. They grow strong but not as large as the Largemouth Bass and are not as widespread. The Spotted Bass has a light greenish color and a darker back. The have a dark lateral band that is mostly irregular blotches. The scales below the lateral line each have a ďspotĒ on them and thus their name the Spotted Bass. The jaw is shorter then a Largemouth Bass but longer then a Smallmouth Bass and runs almost to the rear of the eye.

Redeye Bass

    The Redeye Bass is an even more rare member of this fish species family. They get their name from the distinctive red eyes. The sides and back have a brownish tint to them and are covered with dark blotches. There is no apparent lateral line and the rear fins appear to be a reddish color. The jaw extends nearly to the rear of the eye.

Guadalupe Bass

    The Guadalupe Bass is very rare. They are greenish in color and have a separate dark blotchy lateral line. They look like the Spotted Bass with the spotted scales below the lateral line but the greenish color extends lower onto the body. The jaw on this fish also runs to the rear of the eye.

Suwannee Bass

    The Suwannee Bass is even more rare. The Suwannee rarely grows to more then 12 inches in length and is by far the smallest of the family. The fish has dark blotches for lateral lines. The cheeks, breast and belly are a bright turquoise color. There is a very distinct black spot at the base of the tail and the jaw runs to the rear of the eye.

Identification of Smallmouth, Guadalupe/Spotted and Largemouth Bass

Smallmouth Bass

  • Vertical barring along the sides.
  • Jaw does not extend beyond the back margin of the eye when mouth is closed.
  • Brownish-green color; white belly area does not extend high on the sides.
  • Largemouth Bass

  • Definite lateral stripe.
  • Jaw extends well behind the back margin of the eye when mouth is closed.
  • Guadalupe and Spotted Bass

  • Irregular lateral stripe is similar to, but more broken than in largemouth bass.
  • Jaw does not extend beyond the back margin of the eye when mouth is closed.
  • Spots on scales form "rows" of strips on whitish belly area.
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