What Kind of Bass Is It?

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When I fished in Oroville and Berryessa lakes in Northern California a number of years ago, the predominant bass in those fisheries were the spotted bass.

The spotted bass looks much like the largemouth bass, so I thought I would do some cursory research on their differences in physical appearance.

I also added the smallmouth bass to the equation, due to the fact that they are the most predominant bass here in the Pacific Northwest.

But, when you fish some southern Oregon lakes, don’t be surprised if you catch the spotted bass, for they are reported to occur in at least two lakes through illegal stockings.

Warning: In Oregon, introduction of fish into bodies of water without Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife approval is illegal. Local bass clubs have embarked on an aggressive campaign to report violations of the Oregon restocking laws.

largemouth bass

Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides)

  • Corner of the mouth extends beyond the eye
  • Definite separation of dorsal fin
  • No “teeth” on the tongue
  • Green in color
  • Black lateral stripe
spotted bass

Spotted Bass (Micropterus punctulatus)

  • Corner of the mouth does not extend beyond eye
  • No separation of dorsal fin
  • “Teeth” on the tongue
  • Row of spots below lateral stripe, although not visible at times due to coloration of fish
  • Breeding males may have red eyes
smallmouth bass

Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu)

  • Corner of mouth does not extend beyond eye
  • Brown in color, unlike the green color of largemouth and spotted bass
  • Vertical bars, unlike the lateral black line of largemouth and spotted bass
  • Red eyes

Russ Miyada compiled this information on behalf of the Oregon Bass & Panfish Club. Best Fishing in America works closely with the club. See OBPC’s profile page.

Russ originally is from Hawaii and is a retired lieutenant with the Honolulu Police Department. Now living in Vancouver, Washington, he is an active member of the Oregon Bass & Panfish Club and often fishes for largemouth and smallmouth bass (as well as other warmwater species) in Washington and Oregon.