The Different Types of Bass: A Comprehensive Guide | Boat Safe | Water Sports, Product Reviews, and Nautical News (2023)

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The mention of bass fish is enough to excite any competitive angler as it is the most sought after trophy in their circles. It is important to distinguish one from the other because this information helps you plan how to snare them while keeping within restrictions. Certain species are protected for a reason or another, yet they closely resemble each other.

Bass fish can be grouped into two major categories: black bass and temperate bass.

Black Bass

There are a few species classified as black bass. They are a type of largely freshwater fish of the sunfish family that constitutes the genus Micropterus. They are loved for their reputation as hard fighting game fishes.

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Largemouth Bass (Micropterus Salmoides)

This is the most prevalent game fish in the United States. It is so popular they even customize boat designs for efficient largemouth bass fishing. They have many professional associations and even more competitive tours for recreational bass fishing. Bass fishing is a multi-billion-dollar industry in the U.S., which has created employment for over 800,000 people.

It is also among the best tasting freshwater fish consumed by humans.

It is a member of the sunfish family, one of the black bass. It has a large mouth with an upper jaw extending back past the eye in adults and a tongue but lacks teeth. The color ranges from a silvery white to a brassy green and an occasional light brown for those whose habitat is darker water. It has a line along each side and a light belly. Their average mature length is 15.7 inches, with the highest know being 38 inches. It has two subspecies: the Florida Bass and the Northern Largemouth Bass. The Florida Bass grows to a larger size than the Northern Largemouth.

It prefers a quiet and clear environment and will be found in freshwater lakes, rivers, ponds, and swamps. Adults use submerged vegetation as cover while ambushing prey, while their young use weeds, logs, or stumps to avoid detection by predators. Their diet is insects, small fish, crayfish, frogs, and crustaceans. Make sure to bring along the right fishing rod for this type of bass.

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Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus Dolomieui)

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Anglers consider them excellent game fish because they are energetic and stubborn, which increases the thrill of catching them. They hardly submit once hooked and will often free themselves by jumping and twisting in the air. If caught deep, it will scramble for the closest cover, whether it is a weed or log, forcing the angler to work around it.

Their tails are proportionately bigger than those of largemouths, so they have developed stronger swimming muscles and are also more streamlined. This combination makes them a formidable force.

The upper jaw extends up to the eye level, and they are usually brown with red eyes. They have vertical bands as opposed to the horizontal stripes on the largemouth. The males are smaller than the females with an adult weight of about 2lb, while the females average at 3 to 6 lbs. They grow to an average of 12 inches, with the largest recorded at 20 inches.

They prefer clear, strong flowing streams, rivers, and lakes with gravel, boulders, or rock outcroppings. As much as they are also warm water species, they prefer cooler temperatures than the largemouths. Their larvae feed on zooplankton like water fleas before graduating to aquatic insect larvae and small fish, then crayfish and other fish like darters, minnows, yellow perch, and sunfish. Be sure to bring along the appropriate fish finder if you’re out on a lake so you can make the most out of your trip.

Spotted Bass (Micropterus Punctulatus)

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Also known as spotty, it closely resembles the largemouth bass. Because different states have different fishing restrictions, it is important to distinguish between the two. They are both good for human consumption besides recreational fishing.

When hooked, the spotted bass will retreat to the bottom of the waterbed to hide, unlike the largemouth, which jumps up to free itself. They are equally feisty, though. Other differences will be the physical characteristics. The jaw on a spotted bass does not extend past the eye line. They have a dark-spotted lateral line and dark spots towards their bellies.

Their habitat preferences are slightly different. They prefer areas with more current than largemouth bass but are too warm or muddled for smallmouth bass.

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Their young feed on zooplankton and gradually progress to insects and then fish and crayfish.

Guadalupe Bass (Micropterus Treculli)

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This is the official state fish of Texas. It is only found in streams in the Edwards Plateau region of Central Texas. It is closely related to the largemouth and spotted basses with a few distinct features. It has black, diamond-shaped patterns along its sides and rows of spots that form lines along its belly. Its coloration goes lower on the body than the spotted bass, and it has a generally greenish color.

They are adapted to flowing streams. As a result, they don’t grow large, with the average adult weighing 3lbs. This preference for small streams also thrills anglers as they want to experience the natural setting where streams are usually found. Their population has been reducing largely because of inbreeding with smallmouth bass introduced in their habitat.

The small fish feed on insects. They transition to fish diets faster than largemouths.

Choctaw Bass (Micropterus Haiaka)

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It is difficult to distinguish from the spotted bass as they closely resemble each other. It is found in the rivers of Southern Alabama and Florida. It is still under study to determine patterns and preferences as it was recently discovered. The feeding patterns are similar; insects for the small bass, crayfish, and fish as they mature.

They seem to prefer a unique habitat because no other bass species are present where they have been found. This is good for the Choctaw bass as it reduces the chances of the species becoming extinct through interbreeding with more common species like the spotted bass and the Alabama bass.

Temperate Basses

Striped bass fish

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These basses are classified differently as they are not closely related to the black basses, who are members of the sunfish family. They are found in fresh water and brackish water. We shall have a look at four of their species found in America.

White Bass (Morone Chrysops)

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Often referred to as sand bass, it is a silvery-white fish with 4 to 7 vertical stripes on its sides. There is a clear separation between its first and second dorsal fins, and it has two tooth patches toward the back of the tongue. Adults average 10 to 15 inches long and 1lb weight. The highest recorded weight is 5lb.

They generally avoid turbidity and prefer clear current and backwater areas over rocks and sand. They migrate to creeks, streams, and shallow rivers during mating season. Their young will live in shallow water and move to deeper water as they mature.

Their diet includes aquatic insects and small crustaceans like water fleas and copepods. The more mature prefer eating fish like shad, minnows, and sunfishes. They travel in large schools in search of prey.

Yellow Bass (Morone Mississippiensis)

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This bass is common in the Mississippi River’s clearer waters and pools and backwaters of large sluggish rivers. The largest concentrations are in Lake Chicot, The Horseshoe Lake in Crittenden County, and The Mallard Lake in Mississippi County. They are not popular as game fish because of their small sizes, but they are edible and are fished for food.

They have 5 to 7 distinct black stripes running along their sides, with the bottom ones broken close to the anal fin. They usually have a dark olive green coloration that turns to a brassy yellow towards the stomach. Adults weigh approximately 2lbs.

The young feed on aquatic insects like midge larvae, small crustaceans, and zooplankton, progressing to small fishes like shad and silversides as they mature.

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Striped Bass (Morone Saxatilis)

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It is commonly referred to as the striper because of the 6 to 9 black horizontal stripes running along its length towards the caudal fin. It has 1 or 2 distinctive tooth patches toward the back of the tongue. The upper surface is olive green. The sides are silver and the underbelly white in color. They can grow up to a weight of 65 lb, with the largest recorded at 81 lb.

They are excellent game fish and have occasionally been used as predators to control the population of other fish like gizzard shad. Because of their size, be sure to have a good bass reel when fishing for these.

They naturally spend time in saltwater though they have adapted to freshwater whenever they have been introduced. They feed on mayflies, other invertebrates, crayfish, shad, and other fish.

White Perch (Morone Americana)

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This one appears on this list because it is not a true perch, as the name may imply. It is a moronid fish, which means it is closely related to our temperate basses. It is mostly found in brackish water but is also found in freshwater coastal drainages of North America.

They have a silvery-white color and may develop a darker shade close to the dorsal fin and on the top of the body as they mature, depending on their habitat. Adults can measure up to 19.5 inches and 5lbs in weight.

They largely feed on the eggs of many fish species and occasionally small minnows, bloodworms, grass shrimp, and razor clams.

Conservation of Bass Fish

As recreational fishing gains popularity, the need to manage fish stock and fisheries conservation to sustain this demand becomes more pronounced. Most tournaments have imposed catch limits while adopting catch-and-release angling, where the fish are released back into the water after weighing to maintain their population. Modern fishing boats have installed livewells to keep the fish alive on the boat as they search for bigger catches.

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The Pledge to Pitch It movement is a call to anglers to pitch their worn-out soft plastic baits into trash cans or appropriate recycling canisters instead of tossing them in the water. It was formed as a reaction to the proposed legislation banning the sale and use of soft plastic baits.

Their careless disposal was believed to be having detrimental effects on the maritime ecosystem. The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and Keep America Fishing, its grassroots advocacy team, started the pitch it campaigns to address the problem.


What equipment must be on board if your vessel is 16 feet or longer? ›

Vessels 16 feet and over, except canoes and kayaks, must have one wearable Coast Guard-approved life jacket of a type and size appropriate for the conditions and the boating activity being engaged in for each person aboard, plus at least one Type IV throwable flotation device.

What safety equipment is required on a boat in Illinois? ›

(USCG)–approved wearable personal flotation device (PFD), sometimes called life jacket, for each person on board or being towed. All vessels 16 feet or longer, except canoes and kayaks, also must carry one USCG–approved throwable device.

What do you call a bedroom on a boat? ›

Cabin – A room inside the boat, which can refer to the entire interior or just one room designed for sleeping.

Why do ships Honk 3 times? ›

Three short blasts tell other boaters, “I am operating astern propulsion.” For some vessels, this tells other boaters, “I am backing up.”

What size boat requires a life ring? ›

(3) A vessel of more than 19.8 meters (65 feet) in length must carry a minimum of three life buoys of not less than 610 millimeters (24 inches) in diameter.

Do you need a radio on a boat? ›

Although not required in recreational boats under 65.5 feet long, a Very High Frequency (VHF) Marine Radio allows instant communication between your boat and other boats, marinas, bridges, and the United States Coast Guard (USCG).

Do you need a driver's license to drive a boat in Illinois? ›

Who Must Take The Course? Persons born on or after January 1, 1998, may operate a vessel powered by a motor of more than 10 horsepower (hp) only if they have a valid Boating Safety Certificate accepted by the Department of Natural Resources.

Does Illinois require boat insurance? ›

Is boat insurance required in Illinois? Illinois state law doesn't require boat insurance, but many residents choose to have a policy to safeguard their watercraft. Before heading out on Lake Michigan, make sure you and your watercraft are protected from unexpected incidents.

What equipment is required onboard all boats? ›

Your Personal Safety Equipment must be carried onboard at all times. This includes life jackets and personal flotation devices (PFDs) as well as a buoyant heaving line. It's important that as a boat operator, you don't only have these on board but that you show your passengers how to use them.

What is a toilet on a boat called? ›

Head (ship's toilet) The use of the term "head" to refer to a ship's toilet dates to at least as early as 1708, when Woodes Rogers (English privateer and Governor of the Bahamas) used the word in his book, A Cruising Voyage Around the World.

What is it called when a boat hits land? ›

aground Add to list Share. Aground describes a boat that's accidentally gone ashore, or is stuck on the bottom of a lake or other body of water. If your kayak goes aground, you may need to get out and push it further out in the bay. When you use the word aground, you're almost certainly talking about a boat or ship.

What is it called when a boat leaves the dock? ›

cast off. phrasal verb. if a boat casts off, it is untied and moves away from the land.

What is a Class 1 boat? ›

A "Class 1" boat is a recreational vessel that is 16 feet (4.9 meters) to 26 feet (7.9 meters)in length.

What does 7 blasts on a ship's horn mean? ›

Seven Short Horn Blasts followed by One Long Blast - This horn signal indicates a general emergency and will also be accompanied by alarms and visual indicators depending on the ship you are sailing on.

What does 5 short blasts from a boat mean? ›

One prolonged blast is a warning signal (for example, used when coming around a blind bend or exiting a slip). Five or more short rapid blasts signal danger, or signal that you do not understand or disagree with the other boater's intentions.

What does 5 honks on a boat mean? ›

Five (or more) short, rapid blasts signal danger or signal that you do not understand or that you disagree with the other boater's intentions.

What boat shape is the most stable? ›

Multi-hulled boats are some of the most stable on the water. They also require more room to steer and turn. Examples of common multi-hulled boats are catamarans and pontoon boats .

How many batteries should I have on my boat? ›

So for most boats, you'll want at least 2 batteries. One should be a deep cycle battery that provides continuous power over a long period of time. And the other should be a starter battery, built for big, short bursts of power like starting a boat.

Do life rings expire? ›

There is no exact date for the expiry of lifebuoy rings. They can be inspected with respect to these points. Ensure the plastic on the ring has been not deter by being exposed to the sun. Ensure the grab line is not damaged; it should be securely attached to the ring.

Can I use my phone as a marine radio? ›

The Coast Guard does not advocate cell phones as a substitute for the regular maritime radio distress and safety systems recognized by the Federal Communications Commission and the International Radio Regulations — particularly VHF maritime radio.

Can passengers drink alcohol on a boat in Illinois? ›

Yes. As long as they are legally allowed to drink alcohol, there is no law in Illinois against your passengers enjoying a drink while on your boat. It is only illegal for you to be under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs while operating or being in actual physical control of the watercraft.

Can a 14 year old drive a boat in Illinois? ›

No one who is at least 12 and less than 18 years of age may operate a motorboat unless: They have in possession a valid Boating Education Certificate of Competency issued by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, or.

Do you need a title for a boat motor in Illinois? ›

All vessels powered by a motor or sail must be registered in the state of Illinois. That includes boats with trolling motors. Titles are option for boats under 22 feet in length. Unpowered watercraft do not need to be registered.

Can you drive a boat with a DUI in Illinois? ›

To reduce the number of boat accidents and injuries, Illinois penalizes BUI harshly. Under Illinois law, it is illegal to be in “actual physical control” of a pontoon, fishing boat, jet ski, or other watercraft if: You have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more.

Is insuring a boat expensive? ›

The average cost of boat insurance is $200 to $500 a year—although for a really big or expensive boat (like a yacht or sailboat), insurance can cost around 1–5% of the boat's value. For example, you may pay about $2,500 a year to insure a $100,000 yacht.

Does homeowners insurance cover boats? ›

Yes, homeowners insurance covers boats, but on a very limited basis. While most policies contain some protection for personal watercraft, the limits are very low and there are a lot of liability restrictions. In short, if you have a boat, you probably need a separate boat insurance plan to adequately protect it.

Do you need a whistle on a boat? ›

To comply with Navigation Rules and for distress signaling purposes all boats must carry a sound producing device (whistle, horn, siren, etc.) capable of a 4-second blast audible for ½ mile.

Do I need a flare gun on my boat? ›

Federal requirements are as follows: For boats under 16' in length: Distress signals are only required when operating between sunset and sunrise. If operating at night, one electric distress light or three combination day/night red flares are required.

What equipment is required on all boats? ›

Your Personal Safety Equipment must be carried onboard at all times. This includes life jackets and personal flotation devices (PFDs) as well as a buoyant heaving line. It's important that as a boat operator, you don't only have these on board but that you show your passengers how to use them.

What is the most important safety information found on a boat? ›

Personal flotation devices, or PFDs, are one of the most important safety items to have. The term PFD covers five different types of flotation devices and in most cases with recreational boating, you're required by law to have at least two types on board at all times.

What object is required on a 15 foot boat? ›

Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)

One approved Type I, II or III for each person on board or being towed on water skis etc. NOTE: A Type V hybrid may substituted for any Type I, II, or III device, but must be worn whenever the vessel is underway and the person is not in the cabin or other enclosed area.

Is a VHF radio required on a boat? ›

Although not required in recreational boats under 65.5 feet long, a Very High Frequency (VHF) Marine Radio allows instant communication between your boat and other boats, marinas, bridges, and the United States Coast Guard (USCG).

What is the single most important thing a boat? ›

A life jacket (or Personal Flotation Device - PFD) is the single most important piece of equipment on your boat and the most important consideration should be size. More than two-thirds of all boating fatalities are drowning incidents and 90% of drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket.

What do I need to watch TV on my boat? ›

You'll want a satellite dish intended for marine use that supports your TV provider. The dishes that come with your TV package are intended for stationary use on land, not a boat. Dishes intended for boats are larger, more advanced, and much more expensive.

Why do you need a boat safety certificate? ›

Its purpose is to help minimise the risk of boat fires, explosions, or pollution harming visitors to the inland waterways, the waterways' workforce and any other users.

What is the most important piece of safety equipment when fishing from a boat? ›

The essential safety equipment required onboard any fishing vessel is a lifejacket. Choosing the right lifejacket or buoyancy aid for your activity can be difficult.

What are the 4 important protective equipment? ›

Hard hats. Gloves. Safety glasses/eye goggles. Earmuffs / earplugs.


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