Fishing For Largemouth Bass ...continued
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Feeding Habits of the Largemouth Bass:
The newly hatched largemouth bass feed heavily on tiny crustaceans and other zooplankton until the bass reach 2 inches in length. Then their appetite changes to insects and smaller fish. The adult bass's diet consists mainly of fish, but crayfish, worms, frogs, and insects are important foods in some waters.
The bass ranks very highly in the aquatic food chain. A bass 10 inchs or longer has very few enemies and will eat almost anything it can swallow. Because of the bass's large mouth and flexible stomach it can eat prey nearly half its own length.
They usually grab large prey, then turn the food to swallow it headfirst. So if your using large shiners, frogs, or salamanders you should give the fish ample time before setting the hook. But if your using small bait or small lures you need to set the hook immediately upon the strike, since the bass inhales its smaller food by opening its mouth quickly, sucking water (and the bait) into its mouth. It then expels the water through its gills and at the same instant decides whether it will swallow or expel the food. They can expel the bait just as fast as they inhaled it.
As the water temperature warms up, the metabolism of the bass increases and they feed more often. They seldom eat at water temperatures below 50 degrees F. From 50 - 68 degrees, their feeding increases and from 68 - 80 degrees they feed heavily. But when the water temperature rises above 80 degrees their feeding declines.
Bass growth depends highly on the length of the "growing" season and their water conditions. They tend to grow much faster in southern lakes than in the colder waters of the northern areas, but they usually live quite as long as their northern counterparts. In the warmer waters of the South a largemouth may reach 10 years while in the colder waters of the North they may live as long as 15 years. The female bass usually lives longer than the male.
Largemouth Bass Spawning Habits:
The Largemouth Bass gets ready to spawn in the spring, when the inshore water temperature reaches about 60 degrees F.
Their typical spawning area is located in shallow bays, backwaters, channels and other areas protected from the prevailing winds. They usually look for areas with firm bottoms of sand, gravel, mud or rock, and usually in water from 1 - 4 feet deep. But in some cases of very clear water they will be in deeper water.
Actual spawning takes place when the water temperature reaches between 63 - 58 degrees. The female will lay from 2000 to 7000 eggs per pound of her body weight. She will deposit her eggs in either one nest or can deposit them in several different nests, after which she leaves the area and returns to deeper water to recooperate. Once in the deeper water she will remain there for several weeks without eating.
Once the eggs are layed, the male guards the nest (or nests) and refuses to eat until the eggs hatch. But will pick up slowly moving objects and move them off the nest. And will attack fast moving objects near the nest.
Panfish are the bass fish's worst enemy during spawning. The small schools of panfish will surround the nest and when the male leaves the nest to chase off one of the panfish, the rest will swarm in and indulge on the bass eggs. An area with a very high population of panfish can hamper bass reproduction tremendously.
Bass fish eggs hatch in only 2 days if the water temp is at 72 degrees, but take 5 days at 67 degrees. From 2000 to 12,000 eggs hatch from the typical nest, and of all these only 5 - 10 are likely to survive to reach 10 inches in length. The male will then guard and protect the fry until they reach about an inch in length and then abandon them.. And after this point he will also eat any fry he encounters.
If you're ready for the action of largemouth bass fishing, you'll want to know where to find them...