Bass Types & Their Defining Features: Learn to Tell the Difference
Bass are truly magnificent creatures and are one of the most sought-after fish for anglers worldwide. It’s the ideal record breaking trophy catch for many anglers. There are many different kinds of bass, and you need to learn them before your next big fishing trip. Some species of bass are protected, and they all resemble one another so distinguishing them may be hard.
In this article, we will explain the different types of bass and what are defining features are so you distinguish them more easily. Let’s dive in!
Types Of Bass: How Many Are There?
First things first, bass are grouped into two major categories: black and temperate bass. Black bass species are actually part of the sunfish family and have a reputation for putting up hard fights, much to the pleasure of thrill-seeking anglers. Species like largemouth, smallmouth, spotted, Guadalupe, etc, are classified as black bass. Temperate bass, on the other hand, includes species like striped, white, and yellow bass and are considered the “true bass”, mostly found in fresh and saltwater around the east coast of the US.
Bass is great for both casual and tournament fishing, which is one of the reasons why most anglers can’t get enough of them.
Being the most popular species you can catch in the U.S., the largemouth bass puts up quite a fight. You’ll recognize it by its light-to-dark green color, its horizontal blotches on both sides and its light green-to-white underbelly. Largemouth bass can be found in streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds worldwide, although its preferred living environment is non-flowing water filled with vegetation.
In just the first three years of its life, this type of bass can grow up to 18 inches. While it consumes insects, shrimp, and scuds during its early stages of life, the largemouth bass easily implements larger prey into its diet once it gets older. Furthermore, they usually hunt at low-light conditions, making dawn and dusk the perfect time for you to strike.
Different types of bass get attracted to largely different things. When it comes to largemouth bass, it is most definitely attracted to artificial lures. Sometimes, this type of bass will attack these artificial lures even when it’s not even hungry.
Although it’s not as widespread as the previous type of bass, the smallmouth bass is pretty famous in North America. Putting up a strong fight, the smallmouth bass is a freshwater species that anglers are very excited to catch. Living in lakes, rivers, and streams, it can usually be found in shallow, rocky, and sandy areas. Just like the largemouth bass, these types of bass fish love vegetation and clear waters.
While largemouth bass is green with horizontal lines on both sides and separated dorsal fins, the smallmouth bass can be recognized by its light brown color, vertical stripes on both sides, and very clearly connected dorsal fins. The smallmouth bass can grow up to 30 inches long, depending on its habitat. Furthermore, the fish’s weight, shape, and color also depend on the habitat.
When going fishing, you should consider that one of the best times to catch these types of bass is during the fall, preferably at dusk or dawn. Smallmouth bass loves artificial bait, so you can use ones that look like minnows, leeches, and crawfish.
The spotted bass is also a freshwater fish popular in North America. In appearance, this type of bass looks a lot like largemouth bass, although it’s relatively smaller. Spotted bass fish have a line of horizontal blotches below the lateral line, their dorsal fins are connected, and scales can be found on the base of the second dorsal fin.
Different kinds of bass thrive in different environments. Spotted bass, for instance, loves clear and slow-moving water. Furthermore, these types of bass live in waters with higher currency than the largemouth bass and enjoy waters that are too warm for smallmouth bass.
Although all types of bass are usually caught at dusk or dawn, the perfect season for this type of bass is winter. For spotted bass, you can try live baits such as leeches, minnows, and nightcrawlers. As for hard baits, jigs, jerk baits, and crankbaits are known to work well.
As mentioned above, largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass are some of the most popular species in the U.S. However, many different types of black bass deserve recognition. While the number of species belonging here is debatable, it’s safe to mention the Alabama Bass, Suwannee Bass, Shoal Bass, Guadalupe Bass, Florida Bass, and Redeye Bass.
Black bass can be found in both running and still water, and the best way to catch it is by using squid, crabs, bloodworms, clams, or sandworms as bait. Furthermore, hard/soft plastic jerkbaits, crankbaits, or senkos will surely be useful when fishing for black bass.
Being the largest member of its family, the striped bass is also called the “true” bass. The striped bass is silvery to olive green with a white belly. It also has a pattern of 7 to 8 uninterrupted, solid lines on both sides. It also has clearly separated dorsal fins in both spiny and soft-rayed portions.
The striped bass thrives in many different bodies of water, including salt ponds, lakes, rivers, etc. Of course, they enjoy living in clear waters where food is abundant. This type of bass eats many kinds of fish, including flounder, sea herring, menhaden, alewives, sand lance, etc.
With that being said, the best bait to use for these types of bass fish is proven to be bunker and herring. Just like with all types of bass, the best time to fish for striped bass is at dusk or dawn. However, during mid-summer, you should try fishing at night too.
The white bass is another type of bass fish popular in the U.S. With a gorgeous silvery color and a few horizontal lines on both sides, this fish is known for its fighting ability. Furthermore, it has separate dorsal fins (spiny and soft-rayed) and a single patch of teeth above the tongue.
Usually, you can find the white bass in big and shallow rivers, streams, reservoirs, and creeks. When it comes to fishing for white bass, April and May are the best months since that’s when they finish spawning and are hungry. Finally, for catching this type of bass, you should try baits that mimic small minnows since that is what the white bass feeds on.
While many different kinds of bass exist, the white and yellow bass are sometimes mistaken for the same species. This could not be farther from the truth. The yellow bass, just like the name suggests, has a yellow-olive color, six to seven dark horizontal stripes on both sides, and connected dorsal fins.
Yellow bass can be found in natural lakes, reservoirs, and backwaters of huge rivers. It usually lives in clear water and loves surfaces with gravel, sand, rock rubble, or mud. When fishing for yellow bass, avoid doing so when the sun is high and instead try fishing at dusk or dawn. To catch these types of bass, use live bait, preferably small minnows (crappie minnows) during the spring or nightcrawlers during the summer.
Unlike the previous types of bass mentioned in this article, the Guadalupe bass can be found only in Texas, which is why it has been named to be the official fish of the state. The Guadalupe bass can be recognized by its compressed and elongated body, green color, and diamond-shaped markings on both sides.
Usually found in flowing water, the Guadalupe bass is one of the smallest and rarest species, perfectly adapted to live in small streams in Texas. The Guadalupe bass feeds on smaller fish, so you should use artificial baits such as spoons, underwater spinners, and topwater lures.
The hybrid bass is a result of cross-breeding two different types of bass: white and striped. Being a product of these two, the hybrid bass has a mixed appearance. For instance, it has horizontal lines similar to the striped bass, although the hybrid is shorter and has broken lines (the striped bass has solid lines), and it’s not as deep-bodied as the white bass. Furthermore, at the back of its tongue, the hybrid bass has two separate tooth patches, just like the striped bass.
Adoring slow-moving streams, large reservoirs, ponds, and lakes, this type of bass does not like living in shallow waters. However, they can be found feeding in shallow waters during fall and spring when the temperature is somewhere between 45℉ and 80℉, so be on the lookout.
You should use jigs or heavy spoons in waters with higher currency and crankbaits or minnow baits in less current waters to catch a hybrid bass.
How to Recognize the Different Types of Bass?
The different bass species can be identified by various factors, including their sizes, colors, fins, etc. Depending on their surroundings (rivers, lakes, creaks) they can grow in smaller or larger sizes, and their colors vary considering their habitats. One of the differences in the types of bass is that their dorsal fins can be connected or separated.
Depending on the species, different kinds of bass can grow to many different sizes. Here are some examples of the various sizes that each type of bass can reach:
- The largemouth bass can grow between 13 to 20 inches, and come to weigh somewhere over 20 pounds. Furthermore, the average size of this type of bass usually reaches 16 inches, while the current record is 38.2 inches.
- The smallmouth bass is not famous for reaching incredible sizes. However, these types of bass fish can reach an impressive length of 28 inches and weigh somewhere around 12 pounds. Usually, anglers can expect to catch a 12 to 18-inch smallmouth bass weighing 1 to 4 pounds.
- Spotted bass grows at a smaller rate and doesn’t reach very large sizes. The average size of this type of bass is between 10 and 17 inches, while their weight is usually 2 to 3 pounds. The record for the largest spotted bass is around 24 inches, weighing around 10 to 11 pounds.
- Striped bass, on the other hand, grows to incredibly big sizes. The average size for these types of bass is between 25 to 35 inches and 10 to 20 pounds. Nevertheless, striped bass can grow to massive sizes, reaching a length of 50 to 60 inches, and weighing around 90 to 120 pounds.
- White bass grows to medium sizes and can reach a length between 10 and 18 inches. When it comes to weight, this type of bass reaches 1 to 5 pounds easily. The average size for white bass is 8 inches and 3.4 pounds,
- The common size for a yellow bass is about 12 inches, although it can grow up to around 18 inches in total length. As for weight, yellow bass rarely exceeds 2 pounds and usually weighs 8 to 12 ounces.
- Guadalupe bass can reach an average size of 12 inches and weighs about 1 pound, although there are some rare cases in which this type of bass can grow up to around 18 inches. The current record for the largest Guadalupe bass ever caught is 3.71 pounds.
- An adult hybrid bass grows between 10 to 20 inches on average and weighs around 2 to 5 pounds. While most don’t exceed 10 pounds, some can grow up to around 22 pounds. The largest hybrid bass ever caught is recorded to be 27 pounds and 5 ounces.
There are several types of fins that a bass fish can have: caudal, pelvic, dorsal, and anal fins. The caudal fin is the tail found on the end of the fish, giving the fish power to swim forward and steer. The pelvic and anal fins provide the fish with balance and can be found on its belly.
Finally, the dorsal fins provide the fish with stability by increasing the lateral surface of the body. They can be connected like on smallmouth, spotted, yellow, and Guadalupe bass or separated like on largemouth, striped, white, and hybrid bass.
All types of bass come in unique colors and patterns. Usually, all the different bass species have a similar green color with horizontal blotches. For instance:
- Largemouth bass is famous for its light-to-dark green color and horizontal blotches on both sides while having a white underbelly.
- The color of the smallmouth bass can range from golden-olive to dark brown, with a pattern of dark vertical blotches and horizontal stripes on its head.
- The spotted bass is beautifully green, with a dark horizontal line on both sides.
- The striped bass is a silvery to olive green fish with a white belly and horizontal lines on both sides.
- White bass has a stunningly beautiful silvery color and a pattern of a few horizontal lines.
- Yellow bass is easily recognizable for its yellow-olive color and dark horizontal stripes on both sides.
- The Guadalupe bass is green and has diamond-shaped markings on both sides.
- Hybrid bass is dark olive to green in color, with a pattern of interrupted lines on both sides.
The mouth of the bass is one of the few characteristics that can help you determine the type of bass you’re dealing with. For example:
- The largemouth bass has a huge sloping mouth that extends past the eye.
- Smallmouth bass species have a mouth that is proportionate to their heads. This bass’ mouth extends to the midpoint of the eye.
- Unlike the previous two types of bass, the mouth of the spotted bass does not extend past the eye line.
- Striped bass has an oblique mouth that is gaping back to the eye.
- The white bass has a slightly oblique mouth with an underbite.
- The yellow bass has a pretty large mouth with a terminal position.
- Guadalupe bass has a small mouth that does not extend beyond the eyes.
- Finally, the lower jaw of the hybrid bass projects beyond the upper jaw.
What is the most popular type of bass?
The largemouth bass is considered to be the most popular type of bass.
How many types of freshwater bass are there?
There are many types of freshwater bass, including largemouth, smallmouth, spotted, striped, white, yellow, hybrid, and more.
Is there saltwater bass fish?
Yes, some of them include the Spotted Bay bass, Barred Sand bass, Calicos bass, and the Black Seabass.
People Also Ask
What bass is good to eat?
All bass species are good to eat when cooked well, although largemouth and smallmouth bass are among the best-tasting freshwater fish.
What is the world’s largest bass?
The world’s largest bass is the 22.311-pound bass at Lake Biwa in Japan.
Final Words on Bass Types
There are many types of bass, each with its individual characteristics, making every single one unique, even in its species. While some bass species are more common than others, catching any bass is considered to be a prize, since catching bass is no easy task.