The 'Pond' King
The pond king, largemouth bass, and most sought-after freshwater sport fish is a keystone species in lakes and ponds in their native range. Aptly called a “bucketmouth,” largemouth bass are perfectly adapted to eat their primary food source, bluegill sunfish. With a voracious appetite and willingness to take a variety of prey, largemouth bass are the best managers of forage populations and a constant source of enjoyment for anglers. Largemouth bass are found in rivers, streams, lakes and ponds throughout the state but are best suited for slow-moving or quiet water with lots of aquatic growth and other cover. They are primarily ambush predators that utilize camouflage and stealth to take prey but can often be found traveling in search of food, most notably in large lakes or in areas lacking suitable cover. Largemouth bass begin to spawn in late spring as water temperatures approach 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Males construct nests often referred to as “beds” by fanning their tails to create a small clearing, free of aquatic growth and sediment, in shallow water. Females will seek nests as eggs finish developing and water temperatures cooperate, depositing eggs in multiple nests to ensure survival if one should fail. The males will aggressively defend the nest from construction to deposition of eggs. After tending the eggs for 4-6 days, a swarm of tiny bass fry will emerge and school together, often joining with fry from adjacent nests. Males will guard the school of fry until they reach about one inch in length and begin to disperse.
Where other predators such as crappie and smallmouth bass struggle in controlling sunfish species due to their wide, disc-shaped bodies, largemouth bass excel. Share photos of your large mouth bass in the comments below!
A note about the author.
Alec Hillyer is a fishing and outdoor enthusiast! He has extensive knowledge in aquatic biology and earned his Bachelor of Arts in zoo and wildlife biology from Malone University in Canton, Ohio. When not fishing or hunting, he spends his time as a manager at Fender’s Fish Hatchery and is a private lake consultant. He worked for AquaDoc as an Aquatics Biologist and is USDA certified in applying pesticides.