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