Black Bass Species

Eight Species of Black Bass

Bass fish swimming
Max Pixel/CC0 Public Domain

Most bass fishermen are familiar with largemouth and smallmouth bass, and southern bass fishermen know about spotted bass, too. But there are other kinds of black bass out there even if not well known. Some of these species are restricted to a few streams but others are more widespread.

Not all are recognized by the International Game Fish Association, but biologists say they are distinct species. All are of the genus "Micropterus" and can interbreed, producing hybrids of the two species. Some, like the largemouth, have distinct subspecies.

Black bass are related to sunfish and are not true bass. True bass like stripers and white bass are in the genus Morone.

Types of Black Bass

  • Largemouth Bass - Micropterus salmoides - World record - 22 pounds 4 ounces - Original habitat eastern United States and northern Mexico and southern Canada, has been transplanted by man to all 50 of the United States, all of Mexico and Central America and many other countries. Jaw extends past the rear edge of the eye when closed, dorsal fins are separate. Divided into Florida and Northern strains. Most popular game fish.
  • Smallmouth Bass - Micropterus dolomineu - World Record 11 pounds 15 ounces - Native to the eastern half of the United States and southeastern Canada, has been widely transplanted to almost every US state and many countries. Jaw does not extend past the back of the eye, dorsal fins connected.
  • Spotted Bass - Micropterus punctulatus - World record 10 pounds 4 ounces - Original habitat central and lower Mississippi basin to the Gulf of Mexico, from Texas to Florida panhandle and in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and other nearby states. It has been introduced into other waters near those, too, as well as California. Jaw does not extend past the eye, has lines of spots on lower body and a rough patch of "teeth" on its tongue. Divided into Kentucky, or northern, Alabama, or Coosa, and Wichita subspecies, the Wichita is found only in West Cache Creek in Oklahoma.
  • Shoal Bass - Micropterus cataactae - World record 8 pounds, 12 ounces - Natural range is the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee and Flint River drainages of Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, has been introduced to nearby waters especially the Altamaha River in Georgia. Jaw does not extend past the eye, no teeth on the tongue.
  • Redeye Bass - Micropterus coosae - No world record, Alabama state record is 3 pounds, 2 ounces. Shoal bass were included under this species and all listed records were for shoal bass so they transferred when they were separated. Very similar to shoal and spotted bass and occur in many of the same areas, usually do not get over four pounds.
  • Suwannee Bass - Micropterus notius - No world record, seldom gets bigger than 12 inches long. Looks a lot like a spotted bass. Natural range is parts of the Suwannee and Ochlockonee Rivers in Florida and Georgia.
  • Guadalupe Bass- Micropterus treculi - No world record, Texas Parks and Wildlife says they grow to 3.5 pounds. Naturally found only in Texas in parts of the San Antonio, Guadalupe, Colorado, and Brazos River drainages. Some have been introduced outside these rivers.
  • Bartram's Bass - Micropterus bartrami - No world record - A bass very similar to the shoal bass but limited to the upper drainage of the Broad and Savannah Rivers in Georgia. There is still some question if it is a different species.

How many of these have you heard of and how many have you caught? Do you think there are any more out there we have not discovered or classified yet?