Different Types of Bass

Due to America’s fascination with bass, a multi-billion dollar leisure and sporting events industry has emerged.

One thing that sets bass fishing apart is there are different types of bass, and you need to learn them before your next big fishing trip. Some bass species have conservation status, and because they all look similar, differentiating them might be difficult.

Bass fishing thrills many anglers as these are strong fighters found in many locations where other fly fish species don’t exist. So how many species of bass are there? In this article, we cover the different types of bass and what are defining features so you distinguish them more easily.

Roland Brooks

Daddy by day, fisherman at night.

Table of Contents

How Many Types of Bass are There?

There are two types of Bass in America; the black bass and the temperate bass fish. The black bass is in the sunfish family and temperate bass is considered the true bass.

The black bass is the most common type of bass fish. Black bass fish types include largemouth bass, spotted bass, Shoal bass, smallmouth bass, Florida bass, Suwannee bass, Alabama bass, Redeye bass, and Guadalupe bass.

Temperate bass is fresh and saltwater mostly along the east coast of North America. Its species include striped bass, white perch, yellow bass, and white bass. Then there are many other bass species out there but some don’t have a category. These include the Rock Bass, peacock bass, black seabass, and white seabass.

Types of Black Bass

The black bass is a black fish with white bands on the dorsal fin and tail. The black bass is a freshwater fish with an elongated body and has a reputation for fierce combat. Although they are members of the sunfish family, they are more appealing to fly anglers due to their larger sizes.

Largemouth Bass (Micropterus Salmoides)

Largemouth bass is the most prevalent bass fishing game fish in the United States. It belongs to the sunfish family and derives its name from its large mouth. The upper jaw extends back past the eye in adult largemouths and they have a tongue but lack teeth.

It has two subspecies: the Florida Bass and the Northern Largemouth Bass. The Florida Bass grows to a larger size than the Northern Largemouth.

A largemouth bass could be silvery white, brassy green, or light brown for those in darker water. It has a light belly and a line along both sides.

With an average weight of 3 lbs, they are the biggest of the black basses. The largest largemouth recorded weight was 22 pounds. Their maximum known length is 38 inches, with an average mature length of 15.7 inches.

Largemouth bass is common in freshwater lakes, swamps, ponds, and rivers. Largemouth bass is easily identifiable for its light-to-dark green color. The horizontal blotches on its sides and its white underbelly also make it unique. Make sure to bring along the best largemouth bass lures for this black bass species.

Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus Dolomieui)

Are you one of those anglers who enjoy the thrill of catching a fish that can hardly submit once hooked? You will love the smallmouth fish’s energetic and stubborn nature. Smallmouth bass have stronger swimming capabilities and more streamlined bodies than largemouth bass because of their larger tails. They are strong due to this combination.

The upper jaw of smallmouth bass extends up to the eye level, and they are usually brown with red eyes. Depending on their surroundings and food, smallmouths have a range of colors. River smallies are darker and torpedo-shaped, while those in lakes are oval-shaped and have a light color.

A smallmouth bass differs from a largemouth bass due to its vertical bands. A largemouth bass has horizontal stripes. Weight-wise, the female smallmouth bass is bigger than its male counterpart.

A female smallmouth bass weighs between 3 to 6 lbs while an adult male weighs 2 lbs on average. Most smallmouth bass species grow to 12 inches and the largest is recorded at 20 inches.

Smallmouth bass prefers clear, strong-flowing streams, rivers, and lakes with boulders, rock outcroppings, and gravel. As you prepare the best lures for smallmouth bass remember that you have higher chances of catching them in cool temperatures.

Spotted Bass (Micropterus Punctulatus)

Spotted bass also known as spotty is a freshwater fish popular in North America. For many beginner anglers, this type is easily confused with the largemouth bass due to its close resemblance. Also, both of these bass species are known for their feisty nature but there are various notable differences.

When hooked, spotted bass, unlike the largemouth bass retreats to hiding. Also, the upper jaw of a spotted bass extends up to its eye line. The dorsal fins of spotted bass are spiny and soft-rayed with shallow notches connecting them. Small scales cover the bases of the dorsal and anal fins of these bass species.

You can spot a spotted fish from other bass species due to their dark-spotted lateral line. You will also notice dark spots on their bellies. It is easy to catch spotted fish in areas with more current. The world record spotted bass weighed 10.27 pounds though a trophy in most areas where they are found is 5 pounds.

Unlike other species of bass, spotted bass grow very slowly and do not reach enormous sizes. Typically, they reach weights between 10 and 17 inches. The record-breaking spotted bass was 20 inches.

Guadalupe Bass (Micropterus Treculli)

Did you know that this is the official state fish of Texas and is exclusive to streams in Central Texas? The Guadalupe bass is a rare black bass subspecies. It looks very similar to smallmouth bass but tends to be more olive-green. They tend to breed with smallmouth bass, making the resulting hybrid bass difficult to identify.

However, the Guadalupe bass is a smaller fish than other members of the black bass family. Also, the upper jaw reaches the middle of the eye and the bases of its soft dorsal and anal fins are scaled. Additionally, the tongue of this bass fish has a tooth patch. They weigh less than 2 pounds, with the record caught at 3 pounds.

Guadalupe Bass grow smaller in size than comparable black basses found in similar waters, usually measuring around 12 inches or so. They occasionally do, however, grow bigger than these 12 inches. The record-holding Guadalupe fish is 17.25 inches in length.

You have a higher chance of catching the Guadalupe bass in small streams as they are adapted to following streams. Using light tackle and lures like micro crankbaits and ned rigs increases your chances of capturing Guadalupe bass.

Choctaw Bass (Micropterus Haiaka)

This is a recent discovery of the bass family and is found in Florida and Southern Alabama rivers. The Choctaw and the spotted bass species closely resemble each other. However, a Choctaw bass’s body is elongated and has a bigger mouth. The upper jaw curves under the back of its eyes.

The body is colored in dark olive along the back and upper side and ranges in color from silver-white to brassy green. There is a black caudal patch, rows of distinct black spots on the lower side, and a black stripe along the side.

It’s not one of the bigger bass, weighing only a few pounds and growing to a full maturity length of about 14 inches. The official state record for a choctaw bass fish weighed more than 27 pounds.

Since they have only been found in specific locations, they appear to prefer a particular habitat. This is advantageous for the Choctaw bass because it lessens the likelihood of extinction due to hybridization. They are to breed with more widespread species like the spotted bass and Alabama bass.

Types of Temperate Bass

The only true bass species is frequently considered to be the temperate bass. Although these species are well-liked by anglers, fly fishers are beginning to take notice of them more.

Striped Bass (Morone Saxatilis)

The striped bass is often referred to as striper and is the most popular temperate bass species. Stripers are metallic silver in color. They have dark brown to black horizontal lines that run across their bodies from the gills to the tail.

It has distinctive tooth patches toward the back of the tongue. The upper surface is olive green while the sides are silver and the underbelly white in color.

Most fully matured striped bass weigh between 10 and 30 pounds and measure two to three feet in length. However, striped bass have a remarkable capacity for growth. Larger varieties can grow to a length of 5 to 6 feet and a weight of 77 to 125 pounds. Males are much smaller than females are.

Striped bass fish are anadromous where you are likely to find them in the ocean and only in rivers when spawning. You can distinguish a striped bass by confirming the horizontal lines. It should have more than one line reaching the base.

Provided you have the best lures for striped bass you can catch them in one of the waterways across the country.

White Bass (Morone Chrysops)

The white bass is also known as the sand bass. The sand bass is a silvery-white fish with vertical stripes on its sides. White bass has a close resemblance to the striped bass though it is smaller and more circular or pan-shaped. Their bodies are white/silver, and green-colored with dark horizontal stripes extending from the gills to the tail.

There is a separation between the first and second dorsal fin in white bass. Additionally, it has two tooth patches towards the tongue’s back. Adults average 10 to 15 inches long and 1lb weight. The highest recorded weight is 5lb.

When fishing for white bass consider clear currents and backwater areas but ensure you choose the best white bass lures. During the breeding season, they move to shallow rivers, streams, and creeks. When they are young, they reside in shallow water, eventually moving to deeper water.

Yellow Bass (Morone Mississippiensis)

The yellow bass are not popular in the bass fishing game because of their small sizes. However, they are common among food fishing anglers and a few gamers.

They are similar in shape to the white bass, the main difference is the yellow or gold color it possesses. They also both have horizontal stripes that run along the body. However, in yellow bass, they are fragmented or broken to the anal fin. This is its distinguishing feature.

The dorsal fins of yellow bass are joined. They grow to 10 inches and mostly weigh half a pound. An adult yellow bass weighs up to 2 lbs. Compared to white and striped bass, yellow bass are smaller. They can get as long as 17 inches at most. They are often caught when they are 9 to 12 inches long.

The yellow bass can be found in abundance in the Mississippi River’s calmer waters and also in puddles of big, sluggish rivers. The three lakes with the highest densities are The Mallard Lake, The Horseshoe Lake, and Lake Chicot.

White Perch (Morone Americana)

The white perch appears among the types of bass since it is not a true perch. It is a moronid fish, which means it is closely related to temperate basses. They have a silvery-white color. Some develop a darker shade near the dorsal fin and on the upper body surface as they mature, depending on their habitat.

White perch is the smallest member of the temperate bass species, rarely growing larger than 12 inches. Adults can measure up to 19.5 inches and 5 lbs in weight. White perch are pan-shaped with a distinct dark lateral line that runs from the gills to the tail.  In some white perch, the fins and belly have a pinkish-red hue.

The white perch is a brackish water species though but they also roam the freshwater coastal waters of North America.

Conservation of Bass Fish

The need to manage fish stocks and conserve fisheries to meet this need grows increasingly obvious as recreational fishing gets more and more popular.

The majority of competitions have implemented catch restrictions along with catch-and-release fishing. This technique involves returning the fish to the water after being weighed to sustain their population.

However, note that for the technique to be successful you should practice safe angling. This involves handling the fish minimally during landing and release to avoid stress which causes the fish to perish from stress after being freed.

To keep the fish alive while pursuing larger fish, modern fishing vessels have livewells fitted. When holding fish in live wells, ensure to run aerators periodically. Additionally, avoid overcrowding fish in live wells since this adds to their stress.

Except for the places listed in the Exceptions to Statewide Freshwater Harvest Regulations, state-wide regulations apply to all public freshwaters. Saltwater bag, possession, and length restrictions apply to saltwater finfish species taken in brackish or fresh waters of this state.

Except for striped bass from Lake Texoma, possession limitations are twice the daily bag limits for the whole state. Possession limitations continue to be double the statewide daily bag limits for areas with higher local daily bag limits for some species.

Frequently Asked Questions About Parts of a Fishing Rod

The most popular type of fish for anglers, largemouth bass can be found in warm, muddy lakes and ponds. The exciting battle this green fish puts up during a bass fishing game and how they develop into healthy sizes are the reasons for its popularity.

One of the healthiest things you can consume is white fish, like bass. The largemouth bass, which is renowned for having a crisp flavor, is one of the most consumed bass species.