Spotted Bass

The Spotted Bass is a game fish that everyone needs to get to grips with during their angling journey. Let’s show you more about this lesser-known counterpart to the largemouth and smallmouth.

What Is a Spotted Bass?

Also known as spotty or spots, the Spotted Bass is a species of freshwater fish, native to the Mississippi River and the Gulf states, and is a part of the black bass species of fish, which is distributed throughout a large area east of the Rocky Mountains. It is classed as a game fish, and bass fishing is widely accepted as one of the most common fishing practices.

One of the biggest misconceptions of the Spotted Bass with anglers is that they are assumed to be a largemouth bass, this is due to the colors. While both have a greenish hue and a stripe of diamonds or blotches along the middle of the body, there are differences between the Spotted Bass and its larger counterpart (as well as the smallmouth bass) the differences are subtle, but there are a few telltale signs that you are dealing with a spotty.

Spotted Bass can be distinguished by the size of its mouth, and looks like a largemouth bass in its color, but it has a smaller mouth than its largemouth counterpart. It is also often confused with the smallmouth bass due to its juvenile stage resembling the young of smallmouth bass, but the spotty’s don’t have the vertical bars present on the smallmouth. 

The shape of the Spotted Bass is like a cylinder. You can recognize it by the characteristic dark spots found in rows, and can be found in different colors from light brown to light green. 

The key features include the scales of the cheek, the belly markers, the tongue, and the length of the jaw. If you are wondering if you are dealing with a Spotted Bass or largemouth bass, the quickest way to tell the difference is by the dorsal fin. Spotty’s have a dorsal fin that is connected while the largemouth bass has a separate dorsal fin. The cheek scales on the Spotted Bass are smaller than the rest of the scales on their body, and the dark spots go in rows along the stomach which fades towards the belly. 

A Spotted Bass is also smaller than the largemouth counterpart and tends to dive deeper, and behave more like smallmouth bass.

Part of the Centrarchidae family, there are three recognized subspecies of Spotted Bass; the northern Spotted Bass (Micropterus Punctulatus Punctulatus), the Wichita Spotted Bass (Micropterus P. Wichitae), and Alabama Spotted Bass (Micropterus P. Henshalli), the latter being discovered in 2010.

Where to Fish for Spots

A Spotted Bass is a big fan of moving water and so can be found throughout the central and lower Mississippi basin to the Gulf of Mexico, as well as other states where it has been introduced, such as Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, and other nearby states. The subspecies Wichita Spotted Bass only appears in West Cache Creek, Oklahoma, and Alabama Spotted Bass has been introduced into California.

The ideal seasons for Spotted Bass are the spring and summer, as the bass moves into the shallows during spring so you can catch good numbers of spots and larger fish. Because spots are very aggressive, it’s easy to catch a lot of these fish when they move to shallow water in the spring. Fishing for Spotted Bass is pretty straightforward during the summer months too as Spotted Bass school up in deeper water.  

The common misconception is that all bass are similar in how they behave, but this is not the case. When we compare them to the largemouth bass, this is where we can fall flat. The Spotted Bass will gravitate to structures where you find the largemouth bass in cover. As the Spotted Bass reaches maturity in their first year, and look to spawn, you will find rock and gravel the biggest spots for them. If you are looking to catch a high amount of Spotted Bass, you should venture to reservoirs that have rock and gravel characteristics. 

It’s also important to note spots have a much smaller habitat nationally than smallmouth and largemouth bass.

The ideal temperature for Spotted Bass is between 63 and 68 F, as they spawn in these conditions. They prefer cooler water and tends to spawn in deeper waters than largemouth and have been found between 3 and 20 feet in many reservoirs, but the average nest depth is around 8 to 12 feet.

Fun Facts

  • Spots can reach 25 inches in length and 7 pounds in weight, with a lifespan of approximately 6 years.
  • Their diet isn’t as predatory as the largemouth, they consume about half the amount of its larger counterpart, consisting of small fishes, crayfishes, and aquatic insects. 
  • Like all bass, spots feeds by using suction. The bass opens its mouth and creates a negative pressure, and this sucks in the prey.
  • They group in schools, unlike other groups of bass. 
  • The reason they tend to go in warmer water is that they cannot tolerate low oxygen in cold environments. 
  • The world record for the Spotted Bass was caught on New Bullards Bar Reservoir in California, weighing in at a massive 11 lbs. and 4 ounces. It was 24.25 inches and had a 20.75 inches girth. However, according to the International Game Fish Association, the world record is 10 pounds 4 ounces.
  • Other common names for the Spotted Bass include spot, lineside, creek bass, diamond bass, and redeye. 
  • They are considered excellent fighters, and one of the most challenging freshwater fish out there!

 Top Spotted Bass Fishing Lures & Tips 

The Spotted Bass is very similar in appearance to a largemouth bass, so again, we must remember that they do not share the same characteristics. In fact, they are closer to the smallmouth bass, this means that, when you are fishing, make sure you go into cool and clear water. 

The Spotted Bass is often found in and around offshore structures, rather than vegetation. Spotted Bass has smaller mouths than largemouth bass so it is crucial to downsize your bait. The Spotted Bass is often in much deeper waters than largemouth bass, and are more similar to smallmouth bass.

Some fishermen and women consider Spotted Bass best captured using artificial lures. While Spotted Bass takes live bait, artificial lures have more advantages. Because a lure can allow you to cover much more water, and the lures are always in motion. It’s easier to get exact strikes from Spotted Bass. 

When you are fishing for bass, you need to remember that while they are fighting fish, they will not strike because they are feeding. Spotted Bass will react as a reflex, as they are notoriously protective of their offspring. 

If you are trying to find the best tackle, you can use a spinning tackle and a baitcasting tackle. While each one has its advantages, it’s all down to personal choice. If you are looking for an all round combination, a medium-light spinning rod with an 8 lb line measuring about 7 feet long can help with your fishing. 

While there are many different types of lures that are effective to catch Spotted Bass. The best thing to do is to find a handful of lures that make it simpler for you.

When fishing, make sure that you go to lakes with very clear water, and work at night as low light conditions make fishing a lot easier.

Can You Eat Spotted Bass?

You most certainly can! But if you think it’s going to be similar to largemouth bass, think again. A largemouth bass flavor is mild and watery, and not as clean as spots, and are more similar in flavor to a smallmouth bass. A smallmouth bass tastes cleaner, less fishy, and firmer in texture. It has a very mild flavor, but without that strong fishy taste which is an acquired taste for many. The bass family of fish is very popular with eaters due to its high protein and low-fat content. As a result, it makes for a very tasty fish with a mild flavor, soft texture, and its white color makes it a very inoffensive fish, making it popular all over the world. 

If you are looking to improve the taste and accentuate its slight sweetness, a lot of the flavor is down to how you cook it. You can fry it, and keep it simple with butter, and lemon with a little seasoning. You can bake Spotted Bass with the old favorites, such as butter, lemon, and fresh parsley for a delicious meal. It is also a very popular choice for barbecues because of its light flavor and low maintenance.

The Spotted Bass is a fish that provides a fun challenge for keen anglers all around the country, and whether you are looking for your first Spotted Bass or want to get to grips with your technique, it is a rewarding and rich fish that you should form as part of your fishing repertoire.