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Largemouth bass

Fishes of Wisconsin

Common name: Largemouth bass

largemouth bass
Illustration: Virgil Beck

Scientific name

Micropterus salmoides (Micropterus means "small fin"; salmoides means "trout-like" in gameness and food).


The largemouth bass occurs in all three drainage basins in Wisconsin (Lake Michigan, Mississippi River, and Lake Superior); it is least widespread in the driftless area of southwestern Wisconsin. Wisconsin is near the northern limit of distribution, and it has been suggested that its presence in the state, especially in the northern counties, resulted from introductions.


The spawning of largemouth bass in Wisconsin occurs from late April to early July. The selection of nest sites begin when water temperatures reach 60º F, and eggs are laid when the water temperatures are at 62 - 65º F. The male largemouth bass usually selects a sand or gravel bottom upon which to build a nest; however, the fish will also nest on soft bottoms, where they are able to expose such hard objects as roots, twigs, and snail shells on which to deposit the eggs. Territorial defense against intruders is practiced by the largemouth bass as it is by other sunfishes.


Largemouth bass will bite on almost anything. They can be caught on minnows, worms, or other live bait, plus poppers or streamers presented with a fly rod, or plugs thrown from a casting or spinning rod. Because the bass is usually associated with weeds, a weedless bait will often be necessary. Best fishing times are early morning and evening during the warm months. Bass like warm water and warm weather. Few bite in the winter.