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Smallmouth Bass Information, Photos, and Facts

This little but strong fighter, the Smallmouth Bass, shows us to never let the situation win over us. No matter how difficult or impossible a task looks, you should never give up!

The Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu) is a popular game fish in much of North America (strongly in the east) and parts of Canada. This sporty fish provides much entertainment for anglers. American Expedition is proud to present information, photos, and facts about the smallmouth bass.

Painting of a smallmouth bass.

Smallmouth Bass Information

Native to North America, the Smallmouth Bass is popular game fish sought after by many anglers. Known for the fight it gives when getting reeled in, it is considered one of the sportiest freshwater fish. Smallmouth bass are a part of the sunfish family.

A smallmouth bass has an elongated body and is brownish-green in color fading to a yellow-white underside. Its sides are covered with dark brown vertical lines while its head has dark brown horizontal streaks. The dorsal fin appears to be divided in two, with nine spines on the front part. The jaw of a smallmouth bass extends to line up with the middle of the eye. The eyes of this type of bass are usually red. Male and female bass look almost completely identical, with size being the differing factor to observe. Female bass are larger than male bass the same age and females tend to live longer than males. Bass grow continually; the larger the fish, the older it usually is. The average adult size of a smallmouth is 15-20 inches.

Spawning occurs in the early spring, when water temperature begins to rise above 60 degrees. During this time, the male will build a nest in shallow water above a gravel or rock bottom. The female will then drop her eggs and the male will fertilize them. Between 5,000 and 14,000 eggs will be dropped from the mother. After her eggs are all dropped, she returns to deeper water. After about a week, the eggs hatch and the male bass cares for them. Together, they will form a school called a “brood swarm,” and stay in it for a month. The majority of the newly hatched bass, also known as “fry,” die within this period. The average lifespan of a bass that survives the first month is 10 to 12 years.

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Smallmouth Bass Facts

  • Extremely young largemouth bass under 2 inches are known as "fry" and feed primarily on microcrustaceans and insect larvae.
  • A bass’ average lifespan is about 10-12 years.
  • Female smallmouth bass are usually larger than male smallmouth bass of the same age.
  • Bass reach maturity at the age of three or four.
  • The smallmouth bass has a number of aliases: smallie, red eye, green trout, brown bass, bronzeback, and bareback bass.
  • Smallmouth bass break the surface of the water and become airborne when hooked, oftentimes even performing flips, in an effort to break free.
  • The lines on the sides of a smallmouth bass fade with age.
  • Smallmouth bass do better in the wild than in captivity.
  • Smallmouth bass grow larger in lakes than in streams.
  • The world record bass was caught on July 9, 1955 and weighed 11 pounds 15 ounces and measured 27 inches in length.
  • Bass never stop growing; the larger the fish the older it usually is.
  • The natural predator list for a bass is larger bass, northern pike, and musky.

Smallmouth Bass Habitat

Smallmouth bass prefer to live in clear, calm water with rocky bottoms and places to hide. They will hide in deep water between rocks, among water vegetation, or under roots and limbs of sunken trees. They enjoy shady conditions with the water temperature between 66 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. They can live in rivers, lakes, streams, or reservoirs.

What Do Smallmouth Bass Eat?

Adult smallmouth bass are opportunist feeders, which means they feed on any prey that is available in their environment. Most of their diet consists of crayfish, but they also eat shad, minnows, and perch. Unlike largemouth bass, smallmouth bass generally find food below the surface of the water, and do not usually feed on things found on the surface.

Smallmouth Bass Fishing Tips

  • Feeding habits depend on a variety of different factors such as weather, season, and time of day.
  • Early spring is the easiest time to hook a bass because they will start moving closer to the surface.
  • Although springtime will give you the most luck out on the water, bass can bite year-round.
  • Find the correct fishing reel that you feel most comfortable using. The spin cast reel is the easiest to use for a beginner.
  • The most common lures used for smallmouth bass fishing include plastic worms, jigs, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, grubs, and spoons.
  • Bass are opportunist foragers, so experiment with different types of bait and lures.
  • Although artificial lures are the most ordinarily used, good baits also include nightcrawlers, minnows, small shad or crayfish.
  • Smallmouth bass are known for being tough fighters when reeling them in. Never give up!
  • The majority of people think that smallmouth bass is better tasting than largemouth bass.
  • To correctly hold a bass, put its bottom lip between your thumb and bended pointer finger. Be sure to maintain a tight grip.
  • Each state has varying fishing regulations. It is important to educate yourself on them before going out to fish.
  • Remember to acquire a fishing permit if taking up this sport. Fishing without a permit is illegal and could result in a fine. Many states allow young children or veterans to fish without a permit.
  • Although many fish have an open season of all year, there are some that do not. Look at your state’s regulations to find out when you are allowed to fish.
  • Most states have a length limit for their fish. If the fish you caught does not measure the minimum, it is required that you let it go. There are sometimes maximum limits for certain fish as well.
  • Most states also have daily limits, or the amount of a certain fish you can keep in one day.

Above, a smallmouth bass is captured on video using an underwater camera.

bass coat rack

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A guy with a smallmouth bass he caught.

Many people prefer the taste of smallmouth bass to largemouth bass. Photo by Moncton Gardener (James Mann) on Flickr.

Smallmouth bass in murky water.

Known for the fight it gives when getting reeled in, it is considered one of the sportiest freshwater fish. Photo by dcnature on Flickr.

Photo of a smallmouth bass with a net.

The average adult size of a smallmouth is 15-20 inches. Bass grow continually; the larger the fish, the older it usually is. Photo by phrawr on Flickr

Photo of a guy with a smallmouth bass.

Most states have a length limit for their fish. If the fish you caught does not measure the minimum, it is required that you let it go. There are sometimes maximum limits for certain fish as well. Photo by Moncton Gardener (James Mann) on Flickr.

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