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Image of: Micropterus dolomieu (smallmouth bass)


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Image of: Micropterus dolomieu (smallmouth bass)

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Geographic Range

The native range of encompasses the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence seaway drainages from southern Quebec and New Hampshire to North Dakota, and the Mississippi River drainage as far south as Alabama (Page and Burr, 1998). It shares most of its range with the largemouth bass.

Food Habits

Fry and juvenile diets consist primarily of zooplankton and insect larvae. Adults have a more diverse palate, subsisting on such varied foods as crayfish, amphibians, insects, and other fish


Although its native distribution overlaps much of the northern range of, M. dolomieu typically is found in cooler rivers and lakes, with rocky or sandy substrates. As visual predators, smallmouth bass actively seek out clear waters. Increases in turbidity can cause displacement of many fish species. In lakes, smallmouth seek out structures, such as logs, rocky outcroppings, or pier posts. When present in stream ecosystems, they are typically found in areas with a relatively swift current.

The the male will excavate and guard a small, round nest. Suitability for nest-building is maximized between 1-2.5 m in depth, with particle size of substrate near 30 mm (Clark et al., 1998). Several females may spawn in the nest of one male, Individual females may also spawn in the nests of several males.

Smallmouth bass, like other black basses, may congregate around structural elements such as fallen logs or other large debris.

Smallmouth bass are highly visual predators; they require clear waters to be truly effective. Increasing turbidity decreases reactive distance significantly, ultimately reducing overall prey consumption. However, once a prey item has been reacted to, turbidity does not have an impact on capture success.

is an important game fish. Each year, millions of dollars are spent by anglers in search of bass. Renowned for its fighting ability and tasty flesh, the smallmouth is fished for sport throughout its range.

Breeding/spawning season
Spawning typically occurs between March and May. Onset is based mainly on degree-days, when temperatures exceed 10C. In the extreme northern tail of its distribution, spawning may be delayed a month, and begin in April and run through June.
Time to hatching
2 to 3 day
Time to independence
2 weeks (average)
Age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
3 to 4 years

Age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
3 to 4 years

The state record smallmouth bass is 8 pounds.

Smallmouth bass commonly live 5 to 7 years, with a few individuals reaching ages from 10 to 20 years. Most bass waters grow some adults to weights of 2 to 3 pounds. In Maine, only a few exceed 4 pounds, and bass heavier than 5 pounds are rare.