Feeding Habits of Largemouth Bass

 

Largemouth Bass are an aggressive fish. They have an extraordinary ability to survive in almost all environments. Largemouth bass are considered warm water fish but they can still thrive in areas that have harsh winter temperatures. When water temperatures reach 55-60 degrees they begin to snap out of their winter ways (depending upon where you live). Largemouth Bass can live in freezing water temperatures along with water temps that reach 90 degrees. However, their ideal water temperature is between 65-78 degrees.

Shortly after hatching, largemouth bass start feeding. Before growing 2 inches in length they will feed on zooplankton. Zooplankton is microscopic organisms living in the water. As the fry grow, so does their food source. When their size increases, they then start focusing on larger food items and eat their way up the food chain. Largemouth bass then start eating worms and insects in their environment. They also eat spiders, moths, and insects that fall or just stuck on the waters surface. From there, they will start feeding on small fish and crayfish. 

Once largemouth bass grow to 4 to 7 inches in length they direct all their feeding habits on small fish. Small fish will be their main meal but they will turn towards other opportunities to feed as it presents itself.  Once they grow over 7 inches, they will start feeding on a multitude of food sources including frogs, snakes, leeches, snails, and crayfish. 

Each fish has its own way of feeding and attacking its prey. Largemouth bass have multiple feeding methods when it coming cultivating their next meal. Largemouth bass will feed on open water fish. This is when the bass will circle the shallows and look for opportunities for baitfish to work their way into its path. Largemouth bass will also lie in wait and ambush its prey. They will tuck themselves in covered areas where food is abundant. This usually takes place in weedy foliage. They will also station themselves in rocky areas, broken down trees, and under logs and docks. This allows them to stay stationary until they need to attack and ambush their prey.

Another method is navigating or maneuvering through the waterway where they live. When food is limited, largemouth bass will have to navigate through the waters and hunt for their food. In this case they will need to journey and find their next meal. Largemouth bass also hunt in packs. There is multiple situations when this will occur. First, they will hunt in open waters where baitfish are in schools. They will surround the school and the pack will strike from different angles. Forcing the schools right into the other largemouth bass. The second way is through attacking fish protecting their beds. When panfish such as bluegill or crappie spawn, it is usually in the shallows of the body of water. Largemouth bass will line up in packs right outside the shallows and ambush their nests. This is easy pickings for the bass. As one largemouth ambushes the nest or beds, the fish will scurry away. As they swiftly move away, another bass will fire in and grab its prey. 

Due to their aggressive feeding habits and large mouth, largemouth bass will hunt and eat fish up to half their size in length. They grab on the fish any way they can. They do this by expanding their gills and inhaling a large amount of water. Sucking in its prey into its bucketmouth. When the food doesn’t fit properly, largemouth bass will gradually turn the prey bit by bit. This will continue until the prey is head first. Largemouth bass eat their prey head first and then immediately start swallowing it. If the fish is to large to swallow whole, the bass will swallow in sections. Swallowing as much as it can. If the whole fish doesn’t fit, the tail will be left outside of the mouth until the body is digested.

The Largemouth Bass that was caught in the below picture was a direct result of the information from this article. While fishing, I saw  a lot of movement on the water’s surface in a specific portion of the lake. As I worked my way other to that spot, I saw baitfish come to the surface and jump out of the water. I chose to throw my lure right in the middle of the school of fish. Within seconds I set the hook. Understanding the feeding habits of largemouth bass has allowed me to become a better angler. 

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