The Spotted Bass (Micropterus punctulatus) is also called Alabama Spotted Bass, Black Bass, Kentucky Bass, Kentucky Spotted Bass, Linside, Northern Spotted Bass and Redeye. It has been known as the Kentucky bass for many years, which was further reinforced in 1956 when Kentucky's General Assembly as they passed a senate resolution establishing the spotted bass as Kentucky's official game fish.
The Spotted Bass is often mistaken for the largemouth bass, though it does not grow nearly as big. It is a lesser known member of the black bass group, but this is a spunky and distinguished looking species that most anglers enjoy catching. While they jump less often as the smallmouth bass, they fight just as well.
Above: Spotted Bass
Above: Largemouth Bass
The Spotted Bass reaches maturity by the end of year one, but will not spawn until year four. The spotted bass can be caught with all traditional baits and lures that work with largemouth bass, though the size of the lures and hooks should be smaller as the record Kentucky bass is no more than about seven pounds. Also smaller hooks will cause less damage, which is key for catch and release in reducing the mortality rate. However, if the fish is going to be lunch, this is likely not a big concern.
The spotted bass is broken down into three subspecies and named the northern spotted bass, the Alabama spotted bass and the Wichita spotted bass. For more details on the differences between these sub species, see our description section above on the right.
Juvenile spotted bass small prefer crayfish, midgee larvae while the fry feed on insects and insect larvae. The adult spotted bass feed on the same food that other bass eat including worms, leeches, crayfish, fathead minnows, gizzard shad and golden shiners.
As mentioned above, use the same tackle used for catching largemouth bass, just be sure to right-size your lures for the smaller size. We recommend using smaller lures and stepping them up if required.
Like all freshwater fish, the Spotted Bass spawn in spring when the water temperature reaches 63F (19C) degrees. This can happen as early as February in the southern United States. The male clears a gravel bed where the female spotted bass comes to lay its eggs. One she lays her eggs, she is chased off by the male who looks after the nest and then looks after the fry for a few weeks after they hatch. More on spawning in our reproduction section.
Above: typical nest of a freshwater bass.
The spotted bass can be caught with casting, trolling and fly fishing. Fly fishing is recommended for more experienced anger and requires a different set of tackle. For beginners, keep in mind that even a basic set of tackle including wadding gear will cost at the minimum US$300.
Spotted Bass have a moderately compressed elongated body with coloration and markings similar to those of the largemouth bass. Both have light green to light brown hue on the back and upper sides, white lower sides and belly and a broad stripe of diamond-shaped blotches along the midline of the body.
Above: spotted lateral strike
It is a slender fish, streamlined and shaped sunfish much like a large mouth with the upper jaw extending slightly past the rear margin of the red eye when the mouth is closed. The sides are greenish in colour with darker mottlings and golden-shaded reflections. There is a broad dark continuous stripe along the side, but the margins of this stripe are noticeably more broken and uneven than in largemouth bass.
Above: deep red eye
The stripe is hardly noticeable on large fish or on fish in turbid water. The lower sides have spots arranged in distinct rows that form a series of horizontal stripes. The tail fin in young bass has a black vertical bar that separates the yellowish-orange fin base from a whitish fringe along the rear margin of the fin. The dark bar usually forms a black spot in the middle of the tail fin. The pyloric caeca of spotted bass are not forked, like those of smallmouth bass.
Spotted bass are a medium size bass. While not as small as the whiterock bass, it is no way near the massive sizes that the striper bass reach. However, reaching an average size of four to five pounds, it is fun to catch and offers a good fight. The world record spotted bass was caught in California in 1994 and weighed nine pounds seven ounces.
The growth rate for the spotted bass matches that of the Largemouth Bass for the first year of life. After the first year, it's rate of growth slows. On average, they will reach four inches at the end of their first year, seven inches by the end of the second year, ten inches by the end of year three and an average of 12 inches in the end of the fourth year. However, these lengths are on average with different locales being faster and slower with there maximum length being two feet.
The average weight of bass caught usually is no more than three pounds.
The spotted bass will chase after baitfish like fathead minnows, golden shiners, gizzard shad as well as the fry of other bass species. They enjoy leeches and worms as well as crayfish. The key to fishing for them is to use baits large enough to get their attention. Bass tend to have an appetite larger than their mouth.