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Toronto Fishing 

 

Smallmouth Bass

Classification:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Centrarchidae
Genus: Micropterus
Species: M. dolomieu

This fish belongs to freshwater species that belongs to sunfish family The other name for the fish are black bass, smallmouth, bronzeback, brown bass, brownie, smallie, redeye; achigan à petite bouche; kokuchibasu and schwarzbarsch.

Small mouth bass is popular game fish which is found in northern part of the world including Canada and the United States.

They are strong scrappy fishes and have tendency to jump to try and free them from the hook and hence are sought after by the anglers for their fighting spirit.

The fish is hardy fish and has ability to make home any water it is introduced and is generally considered to brave and strong fish. They like to assert themselves when introduced to foreign environment and are very adaptable.

From culinary perspective, the fishes are not as popular as other fishes like walleye. Unlike largemouth bass though, the meat on the fish is flaky and has slightly nutty flavor. They are tender and can pan seared. The fish meat is low in oil content. This makes the fish palatable and fit for human consumption.

It was a French naturalist Bernard Germain de Lacépède who scientifically named small mouth bass as Micropterus dolomieui in 1802. The word “Micropterus” in Greek stands for “small fin,” and is a reference to the damaged fin that was found on the originally-identified specimen. The word “dolomieui” is named after friend of Lacépède's , a French geologist Déodat de Dolomieu.

One of the oldest records for smallmouth bass fish catching has been held by David Hayes on a sunny afternoon in July of 1955. The fish was over 8 pounds and is considered to be biggest catch even today.

Description
Smallmouth bass are either brown, golden, brownish green, brownish yellow or olive green in appearance. The underside of the belly is white to yellow and there are faint bars on the body of the fish. They usually have red or orange colored eyes.

The tail is broad and slightly forked. The pelvic fins are situated near the front of the body below the pectoral fins. There is a single spine which is found on each pelvic fin and in the front on the anal fin.  The dorsal fins are both merged

When they are young smallmouth the vertical bars or rows of spots on the sides are more distinct than on the adult counterpart. The tail fin is often found to be orange at the base with black and white outer edge.

They are distinguished from largemouth by the size of their jaw bone. Unlike the large mouth, their mouth only extends to middle of the eyes.

Distribution

The fish is widely distributed from St. Lawrence and Great Lakes to Hudson Bay (Red River), and Mississippi River basins

It is also seen from southern Quebec to North Dakota and in south from northern Alabama to eastern Oklahoma; from Atlantic and Gulf slope drainages to central Texas.

Smallmouth bass range

It is mostly found in northern part of the world.

Habitat
The fish prefers calm and clear water and likes to stay hidden in sandy graveled bottom and rocks. They like places where there is plenty of shade like deep pools surrounded by vegetation. Or they stay in deep clear lake water and reservoir

They are highly adaptable and can make use of weed beds and vegetation near rocks but have tendency to avoid murky water.  The fishes like to live in colder part of water if the temperature and avoid bright sunshine. The ideal temperature that they prefer is between 66 and 72 F.

They are not great travelers and prefer to stay in the same pool all year round. When the temperature fall, they become sedentary and like to live around dark, rocky areas. Though they are found swimming in currents, small mouth bass has tendency to avoid current. They like gentle flowing but deep water area.

Smallmouth bass spawn like to spawn mostly from the middle of May through the end of June, especially when water temperature is around 60° F.

The male of the species selects and builds the nest with sweep of his tail. It is often created on gravel bottom next to boulder or rock. They are ferocious protector of their nest and defend the nest from others.
Only a female ready to spawn can approach the nest. Her appearance during spawning season changes as the dark mottling on her body becomes more noticeable than the background color. This is one of the way in which she communicates to the male that she is ready to spawn.

The spawning consists of both the male and female lying next to each other in the nest and releasing sperm and egg at same time. This act is repeated every 30 seconds up to 2 hours when the female leaves and male is left behind to protect the nest.

Both the species can spawn with more than one partner in a single season.

Depending on her size, a female can lay eggs in number of 2,000 to 14,000.

Even after hatching the young ones live in the nest. The male continues to protect the young ones till they are ready to swim out of the nest.

Eating Habit
When they are in larval stage, Smallmouth bass eat copepods, waterfleas, and other small zooplankton (small floating animals). As they grow bigger they add aquatic insect larvae and some small fish to their diet.

But once they grow, around two third of their diet comes from crayfish. It is mostly due to geographic proximity as both the fishes prefer same kind of environment.

The other food materials for the smallmouth bass are adult and immature insects, and tadpoles.

Their diet is seasonal and can vary according to availability of food. During cold month they eat sparingly but as the water temperature increases they feed more. They peak when the temperature around 78 degree.

Age & Growth
Both the species of Smallmouth bass grow at the same rate and this makes them different from most freshwater fishes.

The ones that live in lake and reservoir reach larger size than one in streams. Smallmouth bass staying in southern water grow faster than northern counterpart.

Smallmouth bass are not shy and they will usually take a good lure or live bait.

Liking the cooler waters is where the smallmouth bass is going to be found. Canada is known for its fishing of the fish and its success for anglers when fishing for the bass. The good news is that many anglers now rather than taking them home to the dinner table are practicing catch and release. This is good for the fish’s population.

Without catch and release the fish would almost certainly be overfished and additional regulations would go into place.  

 



Ontario Fishing Magazine