Spotted Bass vs. Largemouth Bass: All You Need to Know

Video spotted bass vs largemouth

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Spotted Bass and Largemouth Bass are two of the most popular freshwater game fish. Not only do the two species share the same waters, but they’re also very similar if you don’t know what to look for. Seeing as fishing regulations for the two fish vary from state to state, telling Spotted Bass vs. Largemouth Bass apart is very important. Using this quick guide, you’ll be able to tell a Spotty from a Largemouth in no time.

A close up of an angler holding a Largemouth Bass, with water and grass in the background

Before we get to the differences between Spotted Bass and Largemouth Bass, let’s cover a few common facts about them.

Both Spotted Bass and Largemouth Bass are native to the eastern and central United States, but have been widely introduced throughout the nation. Apart from the Gulf states, you can often find the two species in waters from Georgia to Virginia.

Spotted Bass and Largemouth Bass are not only exciting game for anglers, they’re also considered good eating fish, too.

Spotted Bass vs. Largemouth Bass

When telling Spotted Bass and Largemouth Bass apart, there are several key features that you should look at. These are jaw length, cheek scales, dorsal fin, tongue, and belly markers.

  • The jaw on a Spotted Bass does not extend past the eye line. On a Largemouth, the jaw is longer, and it does reach past the eye line.
  • The cheek scales on a Spotted Bass are usually much smaller than those on the rest of their body. Largemouths have uniform scales across their body.
  • The dorsal fin on a Spotted Bass is clearly connected, with a gentle slope. On a Largemouth, the dorsal fin is separate, or nearly separate. This is probably the most significant distinction between the two species.
  • The side of a Spotted Bass usually has a dark, spotted lateral line. Largemouth Bass don’t have a distinguishable lateral line.
  • Spotted Bass have a coarse rectangular patch at the center of their tongue. Largemouths have smooth tongues. This is one of the more difficult differences to spot, but it is there.
  • Spotted Bass boast lines of dark spots on the lower half of their bodies. These spots fade gradually towards the belly. On Largemouth Bass, the spots are not as pronounced, if at all.
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Sometimes, you won’t be able to recognize each of these features as clearly as you’d like. Even the dorsal fins can be “neither here or there” on occasion. That’s when you’ll take a look at the spots, or the jaw, or any of the other features we mentioned.

Other Differences

Largemouth Bass have an average life span of around 16 years. Spotted Bass, on the other hand, only live six years. In terms of behavior, Largemouth Bass are solitary fish, whereas Spotted Bass tend to school more often. When hooked, Largemouth Bass tend to jump out of the water in an attempt to break free. Spotted Bass, on the other hand, tend to dive deeper into the water.

Fishing for Spotted Bass vs. Largemouth Bass

Spotted Bass like clear waters, and you can often find them out in the open. You can catch these guys as deep as 30 feet! Largemouth generally keep to shallower waters, and don’t care much for water clarity. Spots remain active during winter time, while Largemouth tend to slow down when the water temperatures drop.

An angler holding a Spotted Bass

You can catch both species with a variety of baits and lures, but the general rule of thumb is that larger bait and lures work better for Largemouth as opposed to Spotted Bass.

Largemouth and Spotted Bass are two equally exciting game fish. They’re both great fighters, and are sure to put your angling skills to the test. If that’s not enough, the two species provide great eating, too. The best part is, you don’t have to choose between these two. Largemouths and Spots are neighbors, so catching an exciting Bass combo is more than likely.

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There you have it – now you know how to tell if your catch is Spotted Bass vs. Largemouth Bass.

Your turn. Have you ever caught one of these two fish before? What was the fight like? Let us know in the comments below.