The gamest fish in town

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Game on: The smallmouth puts up a good fight, making it a popular fish to go after, even for catch-and-release. | File photo

Just in case you’re wondering what makes the smallmouth bass fun to pursue, here are a few details about the freshwater fish

Description

The smallmouth bass is generally brown with dark vertical bands, rather than a horizontal band along the side. There are 13-15 soft rays in the dorsal fin. The upper jaw of smallmouth bass extends to the middle of the eye.

Habitat

Smallmouth bass are found in clearer water than the largemouth, especially streams, rivers, and the rocky areas and stumps and also sandy bottoms of lakes and reservoirs. The smallmouth prefers cooler water temperatures than its cousin the largemouth bass, and may be found in both still and moving water.

Diet

Carnivorous, its diet comprises crayfish, insects, and smaller fish, the young also feeding on zooplankton.

Fishery

Today, smallmouth bass are very popular game fish, frequently sought by anglers using conventional spinning and bait casting gear, as well as fly fishing tackle. The smallmouth is highly regarded for its topwater fighting ability when hooked — old fishing journals referred to the smallmouth bass as “ounce for ounce and pound for pound the gamest fish that swims.” Smallmouth bass are taken for the table, with filets of white, firm flesh when cooked. Today, many fishermen practice catch-and-release fishing to improve fish populations.

Size

Males are relatively smaller than females. The males tend to range around two pounds while females can range from three to six pounds. Their average sizes can differ, depending on where they are found; those found in American waters tend to be larger due to the longer summers, which allow them to eat and grow for a longer period of time.

Range

One of the black basses, it is a popular game fish sought by anglers throughout the temperate zones of North America, and has been spread by stock to many cool-water rivers and lakes in the United States and Canada. The smallmouth bass is native to the upper and middle Mississippi River basin, the Saint Lawrence River–Great Lakes system, and up into the Hudson Bay basin.

Courtesy of www.atlanticpanic.com