Smallmouth VS Largemouth: So Similar but Very Different
Fishes are a fascination for many, and it has become increasingly necessary for them to know almost all the different breeds out there.
Distinguishing between other types of fishes is considerably easy and people can point out their peculiar qualities.
But for fishes like the smallmouth bass and the largemouth bass, not everyone can tell one apart from the other, only the keenest eyes with trained experience can accurately make the differentiation between the two, because they are very closely alike.
Right from their appearance to their habitats and every other way of existence, the manifold distinctions between the two can be established, but often not without the help of a well-versed fisher who has paid closer attention to their features over time.
As an avid fisher of both the smallmouth bass and the largemouth bass, I think the onus lies on me to help correct the common mistakes others make in picking out these two types of fishes.
Therefore, I will take time to go through all their various characteristics step by step.
They can both grow considerably bigger, but the largemouth bass is often huge in size as compared to the smallmouth bass and their names are suggestive of their physical weight. Largemouth is predisposed to growing to about 14 pounds, while smallmouth grows to about 10 pounds. These numbers are not always likely to be the same, they may differ depending on area, region, or season they are found.
The largemouth bass is the largest of all the black basses, with its females being larger than the males and when they are in the wild, they have an average lifespan of 10-16 years. Similarly, the male smallmouth bass are smaller than the females, but they are both generally slender and more powerful swimmers than the largemouth, whether male or female.
Colour isn’t always a sure way of sighting the difference between the large mouth and the smallmouth bass because although they have their unique colouring, location, diet, water quality and age can make them look almost the same, therefore becoming a bit tricky to know which is which.
However, the largemouth also has a horizontal marking along it’s flanks, which can assist in identifying it, even if its greenish colour fails to stand out. On the other hand, the smallmouth has dark brown vertical bars along its body and horizontal bars on the head. It’s golden in colour and can sometimes be dark brown as well.
One can almost never go wrong in drawing a distinction between the largemouth and smallmouth using their mouths because it’s a feature that clearly tells them apart.
Largemouth bass has its upper jaw stretching past the eye, like a vertical line tangent at the back of the eye. The smallmouth bass has a less pronounced extension of the jaw, it does not go beyond the last point of the eyeball.
The dorsal fins of a largemouth has a rift between them making it parted, whereas the smallmouth has one prolonged dorsal fin.
Location and Habitat
I used to think that all fishes were comfortable and liked any kind of water out there, until my extensive study and experience disproved my notion. Not even these two very similar fishes tolerate the same kind of water, they each have divergent tastes.
The largemouth is not a fun of clean water, it prefers to be in water bodies with a lot of junky weeds and logs, where it can hide and enjoy some solitude, as they always like to be sequestered and untroubled. The smallmouth bass likes to revel in clean waters that are free from junk and a lot more open and cooler.
Fishes are no exception to needing good source of nourishment, like all other living things for their sustenance and growth. The largemouth bass and the smallmouth bass though similar, have their typical choice of food.
While the largemouth likes to feed mostly on other fishes, frogs, alligator babies, snails and the likes, the smallmouth chooses to feed on plants, insects, worms, and hatchlings.
At about a year old, the largemouth bass is sexually mature and ready to procreate, which usually happens in springtime, as the weather turns less cooler. The reproduction period takes the whole summer in some states and even longer in others. The smallmouth bass goes through nearly the same reproduction process, but in a neater and tidier environment than the largemouth bass.
Both the male and female have their roles to play during this period. The females lay the eggs and the males spend their time protecting them in a nest which are typically sand, mud, or gravel at the bottom of the lakebed.
There are two unalike ways of catching both the largemouth bass and the smallmouth bass and using these methods interchangeably may prove unsuccessful. Each method is meant particularly for baiting and catching either kind of fish.
Largemouth bass is often found on the highest part of the water, therefore top-water baits are required to catch them. They are fighters and will give even the most experienced anglers hell, even after being hooked by the bait.
Smallmouth bass is found beneath the water and as such can only be caught with baits that run deeper into the water. In the regard of fighting to be free after being grabbed by the hook, they are not much different from the largemouth bass.
I conclude that both fishes have a mind of their own and even though they have similar features, they must always be treated and handled accordingly, and this can be done by carefully studying them and mastering their distinctions.