Largemouth Bass: Micropterus salmoides
The largemouth bass is the best known and most popular game fish in North America. It is distinguished from other black bass because the upper jaw extends beyond the rear edge of the eye, and the first and second dorsal (back) fins are separated by an obvious deep dip.
The Florida largemouth bass is the state freshwater fish. Found statewide in lakes and rivers, they are commonly found along vegetation, or underwater structure, but schooling bass are also found in the middle of lakes.
Black bass spawn in spring, when males fan out a bed and then protect the eggs and fry. The baby fish eat zooplankton (microscopic animals that drift in the water column), and when about an inch long begin eating other small fish. Adults eat a wide variety of fish, crustaceans and larger insects.
State Record: 17.27 lbs. (Note several larger fish have been documented but not certified.) Participate in TrophyCatch, FWC’s citizen-science program that rewards anglers for documenting and releasing trophy bass 8 lbs or larger!
Big Catch minimum: 24 inches or 8.0 lbs.
Fishing Tips and Facts: Florida is an outstanding destination to catch a trophy. A photo and measurements of your fish can be converted into lifelike fiberglass mounts, so you can release the lunker to fight another day. The best live bait is a golden shiner, fished under a float or free-lined. Typically, the shiner is hooked through the lips or back with a large hook, 2/0 to 5/0. A medium to medium-heavy rod with 14- to 20-pound test line is preferred, particularly when fishing in areas with thick vegetation or cover. Plastic worms are the most dependable artificial bait for largemouth bass. A weedless Texas- or Carolina-rigged worm is especially effective with heavy plant cover. Checking “Florida Fishing Weekly” is a great way to learn about the full array of techniques available to bass anglers as well as specific details about different bass fisheries around the state.
Image Credit: Duane Raver, Jr.