There are but two species of Black Bass, the correct names of which are the Small-mouthed Black Bass (Micropterus dolomieu, Lac) and the Large-mouthed Black Bass (Microp-terus salmoidcs, [Lac], Henshall). The numerous local or vernacular names bestowed upon these two species in various parts of the country have been the cause of great confusion, and have often caused the truth-seeking angler to doubt whethei there were one or a dozen species. Thus in Southern Virginia the Large-mouthed Bass is known as "Chub," as in North Carolina it is called "White Salmon," "Welchman," or "Trout-Perch," while throughout the entire South and Southwest both species are generally known as "Trout." In Eastern Kentucky the Small-mouthed Bass is "Jumping Perch." In the North and West both species are known as "Bass," with the addition of various adjectives expressive of gameness, coloration, or habitat, as "Tiger Bass," "Bull Bass," "Buck Bass;" Black, Green, or Yellow Bass; Lake, River, Cove, Moss, Slough, or Marsh Bass, or Oswego Bass. These names, or others, are applied indiscriminately in different localities to either species of Black Bass. Throughout the Northwest the Small-mouthed Bass is usually known as "Black Bass," and the Large-mouthed Bass as "Green Bass," or "Oswego Bass," though the last name is in other sections sometimes applied to the Small-mouthed Bass. In Oswego River the Large-mouthed Bass is rarely or never taken. Then again Black Bass species are sometimes confounded with the Rock Bass (Ambloplites rupcstris), the Calico Bass, or Straw Bass {Pomoxys sparoides), or the White Bass [Roccus cluysops), which are entirely different fishes, with but a very slight family resemblance to the Black Bass.

From the foregoing it will be readily seen that local names for so widely distributed a fish as the Black Bass are a delusion and a snare. The only safe rule for anglers to follow is to use the name "Black Bass," for the genus, and the names "Small-mouthed Black Bass," or "Large-mouthed Black Bass" for the species.


At this late day it is unnecessary to enter into a detailed description of the two species of Black Bass. The specific differences are now apparent to most anglers, who readily distinguish one from the other. The most striking and most easily recognized structural differences are in the comparative size of the mouth, and of the scales, as will be seen at once in the subjoined illustrations.

It will be observed that the angle of the mouth in the Small-mouthed Bass reaches only to, or below, the eye; while in the Large-mouthed Bass it extends considerably beyond, or behind it.

The scales on the cheeks of the former are quite small as compared with those on its body; while in the latter the cheek scales are relatively much larger, nearly as large as its body scales.

Also, there will be found ten or eleven rows of scales between the lateral line and the dorsal or back fin of the Small-mouthed Bass; while there will be found but eight rows in the Large-mouthed Bass, owing to their larger size.

These differences might be epigrammatically expressed thus: Small mouth and small scales; large mouth and large scales. The angler who remembers this will never be at a loss to identify the Black Bass species.


The coloration of both species of Black Bass varies greatly in different waters, and often in the same waters. It may run from dark, bronze-green, brownish or almost black, to bright green or even a yellowish-green. Usually, however, the Small-mouthed Bass is darker than the Large-mouthed Bass, the prevailing color in both being olive-green. The color is always darkest on the back, becoming lighter on the sides, and fading out to white on the belly.

There are usually various darker markings on the cheeks and body. In the Large-mouth the body marks are usually faint, longitudinal, clouded streaks; while in the Small-mouthed Bass they are transverse or vertical indistinct bars.

In a day's fishing the angler may take Bass of a dozen different shades; but if they are kept on the same string, or in the same basket, he will find at the close of the day that all of the same species are of the same color.


It is also well known that the Black Bass is a spring or summer-spawning fish, according to climate, this function being greatly influenced by the temperature of the water, occurring as early as April in the extreme South, and as late as July in the deep, cool waters of the extreme North.

The male and female pair and form a circular, shallow nest in coarse sand or gravel, where the eggs and milt are deposited, and hatch in about two weeks. A female Black Bass will deposit between ten and twenty thousand eggs. The young fry are about three-eighths of an inch long when hatched, and remain on the nests several days or a week. The parent fish watches and protects the eggs, and afterward the young fry. The young Bass grow rapidly, reaching a length of three or four inches when a year old, and eight or ten inches when two years old. They mature about the age of three years.

Food And Growth

The food of the young fry, at first, consists of minute Crustacea and other animalcules; afterward, almost entirely of insects until a year old; the second year they begin feeding on crawfish and small minnows, always preferring the former; the prevalent opinion that Black Bass feed almost exclusively on other fishes is incorrect and untrue.

The maximum weight of the Small-mouthed Bass is five pounds, the Large-mouthed Bass growing a pound or two heavier, though in Florida the latter reaches fifteen pounds; of course there are individual exceptions where both species have attained a greater weight.


The Black Bass now inhabits every State of the Union east of the Rocky Mountains, and portions of California on the Western Slope. It has been successfully transplanted in England, Scotland, Germany, and the Netherlands; in time it will become cosmopolitan. In the Northern States it undergoes a more or less complete hibernation, according to the climate, and in the extreme South, during the hottest portion of summer, undergoes the analogous condition of aestivation.