Bass is a name shared by many different species of popular game fish. The term includes both freshwater and marine species, many of which are native to North America and surrounding waters. All belong to the large order Perciformes, or perch-like fishes.
Physical Characteristics of a Bass Fish
Bass fish can measure up to 80 centimetres (although exceptional 100 centimetres long Bass have been recorded).
The most well-known species of Bass are:
The Temperate Basses, such as the Striped Bass and White Bass, belonging to the family Moronidae.
The Warm Water Basses, such as the Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Spotted Bass, Guadalupe Bass and Rock Bass, belonging to the Sunfish family, Centrarchidae. These Basses are also referred to as Black Basses.
Largemouth Bass can usually be found around structures. Such as logs submerged in the water, or rocks. The largemouth is known to be one of the best ‘fighters’.
Here are a few details about three different species of Bass Fish:
The Australian Bass (Macquaria novemaculeata) is a species of fish in the family Percichthyidae that occurs in coastal waterways along the east coast of Australia. Australian Bass are a freshwater species, but one that must breed in estuarine waters.
Consequently, Australian Bass are migratory, and reside in freshwater for the warmer half of the year and the estuarine reaches in winter.
Australian Bass Fish are, overall, a smallish species, averaging around 0.5 kilograms in weight and 20 – 25 centimetres in length. Maximum size appears to be around 2.5 kilograms in weight and 50 centimetres in length in southern waters and around 3.0 kilograms and 60 centimetres in northern waters.
Australian Bass Fish are a small to medium fish with a moderately deep, elongated body and laterally compressed. They have a forked caudal fin and angular anal and soft dorsal fins. Their spiny dorsal fin is of medium height and very strong. They have a medium sized mouth and relatively large eyes than can appear dark in low light or red in bright light.
As with other Bass species, there is sexual dimorphism. Males have an absolute maximum size of 1.0 kilograms or less, while females regularly exceed 1 kilogram and sometimes reach the maximum size of 2.5 – 3.0 kilograms. Females reach sexual maturity at older, larger sizes than males.
Australian Bass are keenly fished for as they are an amazing sports fish, incredibly fast and powerful for their size. Australian Bass have a diet of terrestrial insects (particularly cicadas), aquatic invertebrates including shrimps and prawns and small fish. Any small creature that swims across a Bass pool such as a mouse, lizard or frog is at risk of being eaten by a large Bass.
Conservation Status: Wild Bass stocks have declined seriously, from stream siltation and other forms of habitat degradation.
The Black Sea Bass (Centropristis striata) is an exclusively marine fish, also known as Sea Bass and Blackfish. Black Sea Bass inhabits the coasts from Maine to NE Florida and the eastern Gulf of Mexico. They are most abundant in the waters of New York. Black Sea Bass can be found in inshore waters and offshore in waters up to a depth of 130 metres.
Black Sea Bass spend most of their time close to the sea floor and are often congregated around bottom formations such as rocks, man-made reefs, wrecks, jetties, piers, and bridge pilings.
Black sea bass, as their name indicates, are usually black. But like many other types of fish, they have the ability to adjust their colour to blend in with the bottom. Their colours may take on a grey, brown, black or even a deep indigo hue. The sides of their body may have dark vertical bands. But most distinctive is their skin, when seen up close resembles a fishnet pattern, because of the dark colour that appears in the margin of their scales contrasted with the lighter colour underneath the scales.
Black Sea Bass weighs around one and a half pounds with the maximum size of a Sea Bass being 500 millimetres. They feed upon crab, bluecrab, juvenile lobster, shrimp, mollusks, small fish, herring, menhaden and squid.
Black Sea Bass usually spawn between May and June. The eggs, 0.95 millimetres in diameter, are buoyant (floating) and their development time is 1.6 days at 23 °Centigrade.
The Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides) is a species of fish in the sunfish family. The largemouth bass is also known as the black bass, Oswego bass, green trout, bigmouth bass, lineside bass or bucketmouth.
The largemouth bass fish is marked by a series of dark, sometimes black, blotches forming a jagged horizontal stripe along each flank. The upper jaw (maxilla) of a largemouth bass extends beyond the rear margin of the orbit. The largemouth bass fish is the largest of the black basses, reaching a maximum recorded overall length of 97 centimetres (38 inches) and a maximum recorded weight of 10 kilograms (22¼ pounds ). The largemouth bass fish can live as long as 23 years.
The juvenile largemouth bass consumes mostly zooplankton and insects. Adults consume small fish, crayfish and frogs. Largemouth bass fish have even been reported to take small birds, small mammals, such as mice and rats and small snakes.
Under overhead cover such as overhanging banks, brush, or submerged structure such as weedbeds and drop-offs, the largemouth bass will use its senses of smell, sight, vibration and hearing to attack and seize its prey. It can sometimes hold up to 5 sunfish in its mouth. Adult largemouth generally are apex predators (predators that, as adults, are not normally preyed upon in the wild in significant parts of their range by creatures not of their own species) within their habitat but they are preyed upon by many animals while young.
Spawning occurs in shallow areas of lakes and ponds in the spring. Females can lay up to a million eggs during each season. The male guards the embryos until the larvae hatch and then will continue to guard the ‘fry’ until they disperse from the nest. During the guarding period, the male ferociously attacks any potential predators that approach too closely.