Largemouth Bass vs. Smallmouth Bass: What is the Difference?

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Are you confused whether you are fishing a smallmouth or a largemouth bass?

Indeed, the two are both favorite targets in sports angling and commercial fishing. Although enthusiasts love to capture them, some wish they can easily recognize which is a smallie and which is a largie. Fortunately, there are tiny to massive differences which can help anglers tell whether they caught and smallmouth or a wide-mouth.

What is a Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass?

Largemouth Bass vs. Smallmouth Bass: What is the Difference?

The largemouth and smallmouth bass are two distinct types of species that belong to the same family: the Centrarchidae or, in layman’s term, the sunfish. While both are freshwater fish, their appearance, behavioral patterns, and choice of habitat vary.

Smallies, for instance, can go grow up to 27 inches long and can weigh up to 12 lbs. Largemouth, on the other hand, can exceed that number; typically, they grow up to 29.5 inches and can weigh up to 24 pounds (11.4 kg.)

Furthermore, these two species are both popular targets in sports fishing whether it be in North America, Tennessee, or Canada. Enthusiasts call them by several names too. For largemouth, the other terms are bucketmouth, black bass, wide-mouth bass, bigmouth bass, largies, and green bass while smallmouth is also known as smallies, smallmouth, brown bass, bronze bass, brownie smallie, and bareback bass.

The Difference between the Two Bass Fish

As what was mentioned— although both belong in the same family— bigmouth and smallmouth bass are two different species. They, of course, resemble each other. However, there are minuscule to huge differences

Habitat

Largemouth Bass vs. Smallmouth Bass: What is the Difference?


When it comes to habitat, the two prefers different environment. Smallmouth, for instance, prefers wide-open areas while largemouth bass likes waters filled with weeds and logs. Apart from that, smallies love fast and clear waters with gravel at the bottom while wide-mouth bass thrive in areas with less current and more mess.

Moreover, smallmouth dwells mostly in cold waters, rivers, reservoirs, streams, and basins. In fact, they are native to Saint Lawrence River-Great Lakes, Hudson Bay basin, and the Mississippi River basin. They tend to change their location as season shift as well, which make them difficult to track and capture.

On the one hand, black bass is the state fish of Mississippi, Georgia, and Indiana. They are also native in inland and coastal waters of Florida, Alabama, and Tennessee.

Physical Appearance

As what was mentioned, smallmouth and largies differ in physical appearance. Although

1.    Color. When it comes to shade, both species have the same color which is green although there are instances when smallies can have a brownish color as well.

2.    Mouth and Jaw. The two differs massively in their shape of mouth and jaw. Basically, black bass upper jaw extends up to the eye while brown bass has a smaller jaw which does not extend beyond the eye.  

3.    Stripes. A smallie has lines in its body running vertically whereas a largie has broad horizontal stripes.

4.    Scales. It is among the many minuscule details concerning the two species, yet it could help enthusiasts recognize which is which. Although a little bit tricky, bucketmouth has seventeen rows of scales while smallmouth has ten rows only.

5.    Dorsal Fins. A smallmouth’s fin is not divided, while the largemouth has almost two separate fins with nine or more in front.

Conclusion

Largies and smallies are indeed both favorite targets in sports and commercial fishing. And although fishers love to catch them, some wish they can easily recognize which is a smallie and which is a largie. Fortunately, there are tiny to massive differences which can help anglers tell whether they caught and smallmouth or a wide-mouth.

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