From the time most of us were old enough to fully grasp a closed rod-‘n’-reel, we were force-fed images of acrobatic bass—small-mouth, striped, or otherwise—as being the pinnacle of angling excellence; the undisputed holy grail of any said fishing endeavor.
A Prized Fish
With reproductive females living upwards of thirty-years, they can amass quite a few cringe worthy labels. The official state fish of several Southern states, largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) have gone by many names. Among the many monikers are bucketmouth, green bass,northern largemouth, and green trout—kudos to the creative individual who came-up with the latter. Yes, while the slew of differentiating names might be furiously confusing, each does refer to the same species, the same mantle-piece decoration.
Big Mouth, Big Appetite
As one could imagine, their gargantuan gates aren’t simply coincidental. In the still, thick grasses of slow-moving waterways and lakes, adult largemouth bass will sit seemingly lifeless amongst the aquatic vegetative backdrops, well-camouflaged by their off-green, brown striped scales. Then they become all too alive, the chase begins, and they’ll likely win. After all, largemouth bass adults are anatomically capable of consuming—whole, mind you—prey items amassing to fifty-percent of the predatory fish’s size. Ironically, however, larval and yet fully matured largemouth bass often sit at the bottom of the food chain, consumed by of larger animals like waterfowl and other fish. It also doesn’t boast well for growing juveniles that adult largemouth bass have been known to practice cannibalism among smaller fish.
And Sometimes An Unwelcomed Guest
Largemouth bass are commonly known to devastate, even catalyze the extinction of endemic fauna in otherwise foreign waters outside their natural ranges; largemouth bass are also known to, in conjunction with less biodiversity, degrade the water quality of their alien habitats.
Nearly every angler I’ve met can recount their first fishing endeavor. It may be as situationally salivating as accompanying a family member on a deep sea fishing trip. It may be as common as feet dangling off an antiquated pier, gripping that childish Disney-themed pole in anticipation. Then it happens, either out at sea or on the splintering edges of lake-hugging pier—the pole bends in applied stress. And, to your surprise, your landed catch isn’t a sunfish; it’s a juvenile largemouth bass.