Humans have a love-hate relationship with Largemouth bass.
How can the most popular game fish in North America also be an invasive species?

Image courtesy of ODFW

Basics

Largemouth bass are carnivorous freshwater found in lakes, ponds, and rivers. Coastal fish in our region can exceed 25-inches and weigh 12 lbs. The longest ever largemouth bass recorded at 39.2 inches; the heaviest at 22 lbs.

Range

The original largemouth bass North American range included the St. Lawrence River, Great Lakes, Hudson Bay-Red River, and Mississippi River basin. Largemouth bass are found North Carolina to Florida and into northern Mexico.

Bass are considered to be one of the world’s most tolerant freshwater fish that easily adapt to lakes, ponds, reservoirs, rivers, and sloughs. They are also tolerant of various water temperatures (both hot and cold). This flexibility has helped these fish become year-around favorites in many areas. Georgia and Mississippi chose largemouth bass as their ‘State Fish.’ Florida and Alabama chose the bass for their ‘State Freshwater Fish.’

Habitat

Bass look for areas with weedy or overhanging cover, submerged structures, and varying depths. They look for sandy, mucky, or gravelly bottoms. Rock and weedy bottoms are using for nesting. Too much weed cover hampers hunting and feeding activities and can cause the fish to starve.  

Diet

Adult Largemouth bass are opportunistic Apex predators. They have the capability of outcompeting native fish and other species when transplanted to a new environment. This has led to declines and extinctions of native frogs, salamanders, and a wide variety of fish species in some lakes.

As adults, they hunt smaller fish and younger members of large fish species. Other prey include snails, crawfish, snakes, water birds/fledglings, and mammals (bats, etc.). Prey may be as large as 50 percent of the fish’s body or larger.

Recreation

There will be no question if you hook a Largemouth bass. When hooked, bass will leap, dive, and put up a good fight. These antics and powerful fight has helped make them one of the most popular recreational fish species in the world.

Bass fishing is a multi-million dollar industry in the U.S. Competitive bass fishing is popular in the U.S., Japan, Korea, Italy, Australia, and South Africa.  The popularity of bass fishing has encouraged the development of specialized gear such as:

  • electronic “depth” finder and “fish” finding instruments,
  • drift boats, float tubes, and bass boats.

These fish are very tolerant to careful catch and release fishing. Large largemouth bass are often adult breeding females that should be released when possible.

Can you eat them?

Why yes. In the spring, the smaller largemouth (around 10-14 inches) typically have higher quality meat. The meat has few bones making it a choice for grilling, frying, or adding to other recipes. Cooking odors may say ‘outdoor barbeque’ for many, and the taste may be a little too ‘fishy’ for some (based on the individual fish’s diet).

Where to fish them?

There are fantastic fishing areas in our region. Some areas to visit include: Tenmile Lakes in Lakeside (premier), and Loon, Tahkenitch, Siltcoos, and Lytle Lakes.  For more information see your Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife regulations and license requirements.

REFERENCES:
–Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, largemouth bass (https://myodfw.com/fishing/species/largemouth-bass)
–Canada BC Invasive Fish (https://bcinvasives.ca/invasive-species/identify/invasive-fish/largemouth-bass)
–Best Fishing in America, Largemouth bass fishing in Western Oregon (https://www.bestfishinginamerica.com/OR-largemouth-bass-fishing-in-western-oregon.html)
–Wikipedia, largemouth bass (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Largemouth_bass)
–USDA, Fish and Wildlife Service, Freshwater Fish of America (https://www.fws.gov/fisheries/freshwater-fish-of-america/largemouth_bass.html)
–Can you eat largemouth bass (https://btycc.org/can-you-eat-largemouth-bass/#Is-largemouth-bass-good-to-eat?)

Depoe Bay, OR does not just have the reputation of being the world’s smallest harbor; it is the “Whale Watching Capital of Oregon’s Coast.”

In this six-acre harbor (also called Depoe Bay) you can come see whales almost year round. During the winter migration, gray whales make the journey south, leaving the waters of Alaska in favor of the warmer water in northern Mexico.

Migrations

This migration usually occurs in late December to February. During the spring migration that begins in March, whales head back up north to Alaska.

While these two migrations are the ideal times in which to see whales, it is almost certain you can see a whale in Depoe Bay any time of the year. This certainty is largely due to the group of gray whales that comprise the Pacific Coast Feeding Group.

Summer Feeding

Instead of making the journey all the way back to Alaska, this group of gray whales spend their summer feeding around the reefs in Depoe Bay. Around 18,000 gray whales pass through Depoe Bay over the course of the winter and spring migrations.

Grey Whale spout – photo taken by Rowland Willis

The most common whale seen off Oregon’s coast is the gray whale. Around 18,000 gray whales pass through Depoe Bay over the course of the winter and spring migrations.

Blue whales and humpback whales can also be spotted but in much deeper waters (usually no closer than 10 miles off the coast). If you’re really lucky, you might even be able to spot a pod of orca whales (also called killer whales). These beautiful predators are most likely spotted during mid-April when they come to intercept baby gray whales.

Charters

Charters like Tradewind Charters, Dockside Charters, Whale’s Tail Charters LLC, and Whale Research EcoExcursions LLC will accommodate any experienced or novice whaler’s needs with an up to two hour long tour, depending on the season.

Information for this post was sourced here.

Shore pine (Pinus contorta)

Shore pine and lodgepole pine are two different varieties of the species (Pinus contorta). In the Northwest, the coastal lowland form is called shore pine. Inland, mountain forms of this species are called lodgepole pine.

Shore pine is found between Alaska and Northern California and typically colonizes infertile sites near sea level where other trees grow poorly, if at all. When grown in tough, windy locations, shore pine can be twisted and irregularly shaped (hence the name ‘contorta’).

Although shore pine can live to be 250 years old, they are typically grow to between 20 and 35 feet in height due to the harsh conditions where they live.  

Uses

Native people used shore pine pitch medicinally and apply to open sores. Various pine species are used to treat arthritis, muscle pains, sores, wounds, and pains. 

Today, the lumber is sometimes used for furniture or cabinets, sometimes as paneling or other finished products. Its inland sibling, the lodgepole pine, grows straight and tall, and was used by natives for the central pole in tepees.

Food

Nationwide, pines are second only to oaks in the food value to wildlife. They have nutritious, oily seeds that are favored by many birds and small mammals. Foliage is eaten by grouse, and deer; porcupines and small rodents eat the bark and wood.