The largemouth bass is the official fish of Florida and Alabama, the state fish of Mississippi and Georgia, and the official gamefish of Tennessee. Scientifically called Micropterus Salmoides, it is a cannibalistic freshwater sport-fish, which belongs to the family Centrarchidae. The largemouth bass is one of the species of black bass usually known to be native to Central and Eastern North America, US, Canada and northern Mexico, but is found in abundance in other water regions too. The largemouth bass has various local names, like big-mouth bass, Widemouth bass, black bass, Florida bass, potter’s bass, green bass, green trout, bucket mouth, Gilsdorf bass, Oswego bass, and northern largemouth bass.
It is of olive green to greenish-grey shade and has black, dark blotches on its skin which form rough parallel stripes along every flank. Usually, female largemouth bass is bigger than the male ones. Of all the species of black basses, the largemouth bass is the largest. The maximum length of it has been recorded to be 29.5 inches and the maximum recorded weight is 25 pounds 1 ounce. The lifespan of largemouth bass ranges from about 10 to 16 years approximately.
Can You Eat a Largemouth Bass?
Yes, the largemouth bass is an edible fish species and tastes delicious when cooked properly. The meat of the largemouth bass is white, tender, and firm in texture. The largemouth bass’s meat is watery, moist, dense, and not as clear as that of smallmouth bass. A few people don’t, however, like the fishy flavour of its meat. Also, it has a weird smell which makes it difficult to be cooked inside. The meat of this fish has very few bones inside it. It can can be grilled, fried, or added to other food recipes. It needs to be mentioned here that the taste of the meat varies according to its habitat and feed. The largemouth bass doesn’t interfere with the diet and prey of other fishes present in waters. When waters become warm, they retreat to slops.
The freshwater largemouth bass is considered safe for consumption. Pregnant women, however, need to keep in mind the mercury content of such fishes and take doctor’s recommendations before consuming bass meat. Excessive consumption of largemouth bass can lead to mercury poisoning, which is deadly. Consumption of free water is comparatively safer than eating the ones inhabiting seawaters. But we shouldn’t forget that the waters in lakes and reservoirs too remain polluted. Such waters have industrial pollutants that are dumped into them. Largemouth bass growing and inhabiting polluted water bodies absorb such contaminants. Precautions should be taken while consuming largemouth bass, especially when fished from such polluted water sources. They might contain pathogens, which pose serious threats to one’s good health, especially if the meat hasn’t been cooked properly.
How to Cook a Largemouth Bass
Consuming largemouth bass from unpolluted waters does pose serious health hazards. But if cooked properly, you don’t have to worry about your health. The meat can be cooked in several ways. Also, the recipes for cooking largemouth bass meat are extremely simple. There are certain tips which you need to keep in mind while cooking the meat. Ensure that you have cleaned the fish properly after purchase. Remove the skin properly and don’t overcook the bass meat. Remove the caudal, dorsal, and pectoral fins. Then remove the head of the fish. Now, using a fillet knife, cut out the bass fillets.
Remember to leach all the blood out of the fillets. Doing this will prevent the meat’s flavour from becoming tainted. For this process, place the fillets in cold fresh water and refrigerate them. When the blood comes out and the water becomes red, wash the fillets again with cold water and put them in water containing bowl inside the deep freeze to soak again. Keep repeating this process until no blood comes out and cut thee fillets in smaller pieces to be served. Remove the bones present, if any. Also, separate the tail filet behind the ribs. The taste of the meat, as we mentioned, varies. Some find it annoying while others love it. It all depends on your taste preferences and how well it is cooked. Remember to season the meat properly to give it a delicious taste.
Why are Largemouth Bass a Popular Sport-fish but Not Popular for Eating?
The largemouth bass is popularly used for sport fishing bass and is the most prized fish in such sports. Also, they are widely fished by anglers because they can be caught easily. They are aggressive feeders and can attack anything alive when feeding. They are untamable. To break free when caught, these fish can even become airborne. The reason why largemouth bass are used as a gamefish more than for consumption is their weird taste. A lot of people seem to disk-like its taste and smell.
Where do Largemouth Bass Feed?
Mature largemouth bass prefers to live alone. However, where there are abundant baits and food supplies, one can spot them in schools. Of the other fish belonging to the sunfish family, largemouth bass is the best meat-eaters. The largemouth bass is excellent in aiming at their prey. They hide behind rocks or marine vegetation or below roots of submerged plants and trees and attack their prey from behind. They are otherwise calm, quiet, warm water marine beings but can adapt to various water conditions. The adult ones feed on small fish like minnows, sunfish, perch, bluegill, shad, snails, crawfish, etc. Not only that, when hungry, they even pounce on water organisms like frogs, insects, crayfish, salamanders, bats, snakes, baby alligators, or aquatic birds. Young bass below 2 inches, known as fry, don’t pray. Instead, they feed on phytoplankton and zooplankton and larvae of small insects.
The adult ones live in deep waters of reservoirs and lakes unlike the young largemouth bass and live on mostly yellow perch, shiners, ciscoes, and sunfish. Mature bass often consumes juveniles of other fish species like white bass, trout, striped bass, Catfish, etc. Based on their size, they can prey on animals and fishes as large as 50% of their body’s length. Studies have shown that their development and maturation process is slow because of the difficulty in preying. In water bodies having less weed growth, bass can trace and catch their prey easily. Such prey is mostly baited fishes. Bass can devastate and consume the entire prey population in water bodies having no or less weed cover and starve afterward. The largemouth bass has strong and sharp senses using which they smell, hear, chase and attack their prey under overhead cover like brush, submerged banks or rocks, humps, ridges, etc.
Largemouth Bass Spawning
Largemouth bass becomes sexually mature when they are about a year old only. They spawn towards the end of winters in southern parts of America and during springs in the northern regions. Their spawning activity is mostly determined by the water temperature. Spawning begins only when the temperature becomes more than 60°F. This temperature is usually achieved in the northern regions from April and continues till July. In the southern region, the spawning period commences from March and continues till June. The healthiest and largest specimens of largemouth bass are usually found in the southern states.
Male largemouth bass usually build nests with their tails. The size of the nests is generally twice their body length, though the size varies. To make nests for their young ones, they make use of gravels, muck, sand, roots, and twigs. After the nest is done, males lookout for their females for mating. After breeding, they both swim around the nest together, turning their bodies to enable the eggs and sperms which are released, come in contact with one another, and fertilise. Every spring, male and female bass generally mate twice. Until the eggs are hatched, male bass protects the females and the nests. Female bass inhabiting the southern region of America and north Mexico take 2 to 4 days to hatch eggs while the ones inhabiting northern water bodies take more time. After the young ones are hatched, the males remain with the newborn bass unless they learn to swim on their own which usually takes about two weeks. When the entire process becomes complete, the entire bass family switches to the summer mode and focuses on preying.
How to Fish for Largemouth Bass
As we already said, largemouth bass is popularly used as a sport fish. It’s one of the most prized catches for commercial anglers. Usually, bass can be spotted in freshwaters like rivers and lakes. Especially in areas of food supplies and forages, these are found in large numbers so that they can prey on them. The best time to fish bass is from May till July. Live baits like spinnerbaits, jigs, minnows, crayfish are most effective when it comes to fishing bass. Also, fishing in early dawn or late evenings or afternoons is the best time of the day since they remain inactive during the daytime. Largemouth bass becomes extremely active predators when the water temperatures cool down. When caught, they fight to break out from the nets. Mostly, anglers fish them by two methods, fly fishing and bait casting. If you are willing to know how to fish largemouth bass, follow the given steps:
Locate their Habitat in Waters
This is a warm fish species. You need to locate where they can be found in concentrations. They mostly thrive in shallow freshwaters of lakes, rivers, ponds, reservoirs which have weed cover or marine vegetation, trees, or rocks covering the water surface. There are high chances to find them inhabiting the shallow areas close to such covers. No matter you are fishing from a boat or the coast, if you can locate any submerged bridge, rock, trees or weed if present.
Choose the Bait or Lure to Catch Largemouth Bass
If you have spotted any shallow water surface which remains covered, scrutinize the area properly and take precautions before placing the live bait. For example, if you can see schools of any bait fish swimming near the shore or boat, you can easily use them as your bait for bass fishing! It will be very effective if you can place a bait which is similar to the food they most likely prey upon in the area where you choose to place the bait. Generally, anglers place frogs, crayfish, lizards as baits similar to the ones they feed on.
One of the most used techniques to attract largemouth bass is by making a crank-bait out of shiners, shads, or other fishes and rattling it below the water surface so that it creates vibrations in the water. Bass has very strong and sharp senses. Following the vibrations below the water surface, they will surely trace it using their lateral lines. Remember that despite several manmade lures and baits available these days, using natural baits is one of the most effective ways of fishing largemouth bass if you are a beginner or having kids near the region.
Wait for Largemouth Bass to Attack
Once you have found the bait that you would be placing for fishing bass, decide which fishing technique are you going to employ. Also, arrange for a good reel and rod for the purpose.
After placing the bait, if you notice a school of bass actively swimming around it or chasing the baitfish in schools, it indicates they are feeding voraciously. In such cases, you can place a larger bait or lures and take them back fast. Whereas if you don’t notice any signs of the largemouth bass chasing or swimming towards the bait, you need to add more baits into the water slowly to elicit a strike.
There shouldn’t be any foreign scents present in the area where you are fishing, because they rely strongly on their senses. Outdoor chemicals like tobacco, bug spray, etc might deter largemouth bass. Keep in mind to clean your hands at frequent intervals when handling the artificial baits, reels, rods, fishing line, etc. Because bass meat isn’t much preferred by people, they are most fished for practicing fishing and released afterward. Bass fishing is an interesting and fun sport. You need to enjoy the process and do what circumstances allow you to. Follow the water temperature, the behavior of the preying bass, movement of the bait fishes and you will be good to go. The more you practice, the more efficient would you become in handling the baits and techniques. For more facts about Largemouth Bass, check out American Expedition.
What are the Health Benefits of Eating a Largemouth Bass?
Needless to say, seafood is full of vitamins and nutrition. The largemouth bass is no exceptions to this. Whether you consume seawater or freshwater largemouth bass, one serving would be an excellent source of proteins, vitamins, fats, and vitamins. Also, it contains essential omega-3 fatty acids. Both fresh and seawater bass are rich in these nutrients but varying proportions. Seawater largemouth bass has high levels of vitamin B6 in them, containing twice the vitamin B6 content found in freshwater bass. On the other hand, the latter contains 77% more vitamin B12 content than found in the former.
Now let’s see how bass consumption is beneficial for our health:
- Source of Protein and Nutrition
One of the many health benefits of consuming seafood is that they cater to 50% of your body’s protein requirement. Fresh as well as seawater bass contribute about 20 grams of protein to your body if you consume 3 ounces of bass meat. 20% of this protein would meet 40% of your body’s daily protein intake.
- Provides Omega–3 Fatty Acids
Both sea and freshwater bass are excellent sources of two omega3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid or DHA and
Eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA. The presence of fatty acids in our body reduces the chances of cardiovascular diseases by maintaining blood pressure and lowering cholesterol levels. Also, it reduces the risks of stroke and cardiac arrests. However, the level of fatty acids present in both varieties varies greatly.
- Provides Selenium
Another important nutrient freshwater and seawater bass contribute is selenium. This nutrient is highly responsible for producing antioxidants and synthesizing thyroid hormones. Bass is a good source of selenium for your body.
You can eat Largemouth Bass. It only has one disadvantage, which is its high mercury levels. Adults are safe to consume bass, but children and pregnant women shouldn’t prevent it unless their physicians have recommended it. Even if they do, they should take bass meat in limited quantities.
Because bass consumes pollutants and varieties of marine organisms, they taste a bit uncommon. This thought, however, varies from person to person. Taste preferences are subjective. Some like to eat bass meat, some don’t. Childbearing ladies and children who stay away from consuming bass without consulting their dietitians. Hence, it’s recommended to consume smallmouth bass, because they are young and have less concentration of mercury inside their bodies. Largemouth bass fished from strictly freshwater sources, which are clean and unpolluted are safe to be consumed.
Bass meat is a delicious item if cooked properly. Remember to clean it thoroughly as soon as possible after the catch. The catch and release principle is popular because it maintains the bass population for the future. However, if a bass somehow gets injured during fishing, it may be better to consume the fish rather than releasing it back into waters.