The largemouth bass is an olive-green to greenish gray fish, marked by a series of dark, sometimes black, blotches forming a jagged horizontal stripe along each flank. The upper jaw (maxilla) of a largemouth bass extends beyond the rear margin of the orbit. The largemouth is the largest of the black basses, reaching a maximum recorded overall length of 29.5 in (75 cm) and a maximum unofficial weight of 25 pounds 1 ounce (11.4 kg). Sexual dimorphism is found, with the female larger than the male. Average lifespan in the wild is 10 to 16 years.
What do largemouth bass eat?
Largemouth bass are carnivorous fish, and they feed on a wide variety of prey. When they’re smaller, they feed on things like small baitfish, small shrimp, insects, and scuds. As they grow, they begin to consume smaller fish (like bluegill), crawfish, frogs, snakes, snails, shad, little water birds, bats, and even baby alligators.
Adult bass that live in larger lakes and reservoirs tend to occupy deeper water than younger bass, and their diet reflects this. They primarily eat small fish (shad, yellow perch, shiners, sunfish, etc.) and the younger members of larger species of fish (catfish, trout, walleye, etc.). Amazingly, bass can consume prey that are greater than 50% of their length.
Largemouth bass tend to grow slower in weedy waters because it’s more difficult for them to find and catch food. However, if there is no cover at all, bass can completely wipe out the population of prey, and thus effectively starve themselves.
Where to find the largemouth bass
First lets define the most used terms when talking about where to find largemouth bass. Structure and cover.
Structure is the layout of the body of water. I was going to say the naturally occurring features of the lake such as points, humps, flats and creek or river beds but it also includes old roads that were in the area before the lake was filled in and those are not necessarily naturally made.
Cover is a place where bass could, well, take cover or hide to ambush prey. Common examples of cover would be any sort of vegetation, boat dock, bridge piling, a tree stump, a rock or brush pile or even something not naturally occurring like wreckage or a man made object.
So you could have areas of cover that are contained on structure, such as stumps on a point or brush piles on a drop-off. Or you could have cover by itself such as grass mats or lily pads.
Finding Fall Largemouth
In fall you should be looking shallow. Bait fish will be hanging out in the backs of creeks and the bass won’t be far behind. You should also check windblown shorelines, especially those with any kind of structure present or cover near by. Tossing lures to isolated cover could be very productive.
Another spot to focus on are flats that also contain isolated cover or have a good dropoff on them. Working your lures from the shoreline back to the dropoff will spark the interest of any hungry largemouth bass that may be near by.
Locating Winter Largemouth Bass
In the winter, when the water reaches the low 50s or lower, largemouth will retreat back to deeper water. This is when you will want to key in on deep structure on your chosen lake.
Steep dropoffs near creek beds are a popular place for largemouth bass to be found. Points that taper off into the deeper parts of the lake should be worked along with any lake humps.
Once again be on the look out for any cover that you may be able to mark on your fish finder on the deeper parts of the lake especially near creek beds. Brush piles or tree stumps are a favorite hiding spot and could be the key to finding big largemouth bass in the winter.
Finding Spring Largemouth Bass
This is largemouth bass spawn season. The bass will come back into the shallow areas. Pay particular attention to shallow, flat areas in and around coves.
You also want to look for primarily sandy areas rather than rocky or areas with thick vegetation. Keep in mind that at this time bass are looking for areas to make a nest. Areas that a bass can fan out and clear a spot for a nest that he will eventually guard from the dangers of the lake. Look for spots with the characteristics named above and that look “safe” to a largemouth.
Where to Find Summer Largemouth
As the days heat up in the transition from Spring to Summer you will once again find the bass in deep water for most of the day.
While early morning and late evening will still have some largemouth bass going shallow to feed, most of the day should be focused on off shore structure.
Similar to winter when you want to be working areas of the lake where you find off shore humps and points. Creek beds can prove to be productive and any area around these where there is a transition in the make up of the bottom of the lake. Such as a rocky bottom turning into sand.
How to catch a largemouth bass
The largemouth bass is one of Minnesota’s favorite sport fish. Common in more than half of the state’s fishing lakes and many rivers, its popularity has much to do with its wide prevalence throughout the state, abundance in most lakes and scrappy resistance once hooked. Largemouth bass can be caught from docks and fishing piers. If you have never fished for largemouth bass you should. They are surprisingly strong and can be downright acrobatic.
Bass can be caught in a variety of ways. In fact, it’s not uncommon for bluegill anglers fishing with a worm or crappie anglers fishing with a minnow to catch a largemouth bass. Still, most largemouth bass are caught by anglers casting plastic worms, soft plastic jigs, tube jigs, swim baits, surface lures, spinners or small spoons. One of the keys to catching bass is to find a technique you like and perfect it.
Many anglers are particularly partial to fishing with plastic worms or plastic crayfish, which can be hooked in a variety of ways. Some anglers like to hook them with no or very little weight attached to the line so the lure sinks ever so slowly. Others like to hook these plastic lures to a jig or weighted hook, and then jig the rig to trigger strikes. A common technique is to bury the hook in the plastic lure so as to make it weedless because largemouth bass fishing is often done in and around heavy stands of aquatic vegetation.
Surface lures are also popular, and can be particularly effective during the morning and toward dark when largemouth bass are feeding in the shallows. These floating lures – often made to look like frogs or replicate the movements of small dying prey fish – can trigger startling attacks as the bass bursts upward to inhale it. For this reason, fly fishing is also another effective way to catch bass when they are feeding in the shallows. Large poppers or large insect patters can spark exceptional rod-bending action.
What is the best bait for largemouth bass?
In terms of live bait, fish (like shiners, minnows, or shad) and crawfish work very well since these are what bass usually eat.
Because largemouth bass are carnivorous, the best artificial baits tend to be those that mimic their prey in some way.
Bass are aggressive predators and will also attack a wide variety of artificial baits. If you look at the most used lures, you’ll notice that they don’t all look precisely like the natural prey of the bass. The key is that each bait has some specific feature that attracts bass, such as flashing in the light.