Largemouth Bass

Micropterous salmoides


Largemouth bass side view photo with black background
Largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides
Lance Merry
Other Common Name
Lineside Bass; Bigmouth Bass

Centrarchidae (sunfishes) in the order Perciformes (perch-like fishes)


The largemouth bass is a large, slender, elongated, streamlined sunfish with a very large mouth. The upper parts are greenish; the lower sides and belly are white, without dark spots or with spots that are irregularly arranged. The midside has a broad, dark, continuous stripe. The upper jaw reaches far beyond the rear margin of the eye, except in small young. The tongue is smooth. The dorsal fins are not well connected. The cheek scales are the same size as the rest of the body scales.

Key Identifiers


  • Upper jaw extends beyond back of eye
  • The 2 dorsal fins are not well connected
  • Scales on cheek are same size as on body
  • Dark horizontal stripe
  • Smooth tongue

Total length: 10 to 20 inches; weight: ½ to 4½ pounds; maximum about 24 inches and 15 pounds.


Largemouth bass juvenile, side view photo with black background
Largemouth Bass Juvenile
Largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides, juvenile


Largemouth bass juvenile, side view photo with black background
Largemouth Bass Juvenile
Largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides, juvenile


Largemouth Bass
Largemouth Bass


Three captured fish lying on a surface, left to right: largemouth bass, spotted bass, and smallmouth bass
Missouri's 3 Species of Black Basses: Largemouth, Spotted, and Smallmouth
From left to right: largemouth, spotted, and smallmouth bass. They are in the same genus, Micropterus, the "black basses."


Largemouth Bass
Hooked Largemouth Bass

Largemouth Bass

Largemouth Bass at Fellows Lake
Largemouth Bass
Winter Bassing at Fellows Lake - Gotta love it!


Holding a Largemouth Bass
Holding a Largemouth Bass
Habitat and conservation

Found in lowland lakes, artificial impoundments of all sizes, permanent pools of streams, and quiet backwaters of large rivers. The largemouth bass thrives in warm, moderately clear waters with little or no current. This species is most active at dawn and dusk. Its closest relatives are the smallmouth and spotted basses.


Carnivorous, feeding on fish, crayfish, large insects, and occasionally frogs, mice, snakes, or other small animals that fall into the water.

image of Largemouth Bass distribution map
Distribution in Missouri



Popular game fish.

Life cycle

Individuals can live for 10 to 15 years. In Missouri, spawning occurs from mid-April through late May or June. They prefer to build their nests on rock or gravelly substrates, but any firm, silt-free bottom will do. Water depth over nests ranges from less than 1 foot to 15 feet or more. They do not nest where current or wave action are present. The eggs hatch in 3–4 days, and the fry rise and begin to feed 5–8 days after hatching. They form a tight school that stays over the nest another 4–5 days. Schools break up 26–31 days after hatching, when the young are slightly more than 1 inch long. The male largemouth is a more attentive parent than any of the other sunfishes. By the end of its first year, a largemouth can be more than 5 inches long.

Human connections

Due to its widespread distribution and sporting qualities, the largemouth bass ranks as one of the most important North American warmwater sport fishes. Along with the crappies and white bass, it forms the backbone of the sport fishery in many large Missouri reservoirs and is almost invariably stocked as the principal predatory fish in farm ponds.

Ecosystem connections

Because the largemouth bass is a top predator in aquatic habitats, its numbers definitely correlate with the abundance of its principal prey species, such as gizzard shad and other small fish, crayfish, and insects.