Depending on whom you are talking to,
the "black bass" name might mean
a couple of different things. Most often,
I find that when anglers refer to black
bass, they are specifically referring to
largemouth bass. However, from a biology
perspective, the phrase "black bass" is
actually a group that includes seven closely
related species classified by the scientific
genus Micropterus. In other words, although
a largemouth bass is a black bass, so are
spotted bass, smallmouth bass, and four
other similar species.
Backing up the classification ladder a
couple of steps, black basses are part
of another group of fish referred to as
the Perciformes. The Perciformes is actually
a large, diverse group of fishes and includes
freshwater species like walleye and sauger
(perches), white bass and striped bass
(temperate basses), and crappies and sunfish
(centrarchids). Although black bass are
distant relatives of all these species,
they are close cousins to crappies and
sunfish and are grouped with them in a
classification called Centrarchidae.
As I mentioned above, black basses include
seven Micropterus species. Most anglers
are probably familiar with only 3 or 4
of them, as the others are not present
in Texas. Obviously, the most common black
bass is the largemouth bass (Micropterus
salmoides). Although originally native
to the central and southeastern U.S. and
northern Mexico, largemouth bass have been
introduced into every state but Alaska
and have been widely stocked in Mexico,
Central and South America, Europe, and
Africa. There are two largemouth bass subspecies:
northern largemouth bass (M. salmoides
salmoides) and Florida largemouth bass
(M. salmoides floridanus). The Florida
subspecies is originally native to Florida
and southern Georgia, but has been widely
distributed throughout the current largemouth
bass range, including Texas. Generally
speaking, Florida largemouth bass attain
a greater maximum size than northern largemouth
bass. The world record is a 22 lb. 4 oz.
Florida strain fish caught in Georgia in
The three other black bass species found
in Texas include the spotted bass (Micropterus
punctulatus), smallmouth bass (Micropterus
dolomieu), and the Guadalupe bass (Micropterus
treculi). Spotted bass are native to the
central and southern Mississippi River
and Gulf Coast drainages. There are two
subspecies of spotted bass and include
the northern spotted bass (M. punctulatus
punctulatus) and Alabama spotted bass (M.
punctulatus henshalli). The northern spotted
bass is native to Texas, but these fish
rarely exceed 3 pounds. In an attempt to
improve spotted bass size, the Alabama
subspecies has been introduced in west
Texas on an experimental basis. The success
of this stocking has yet to be determined.
The world record spotted bass was caught
in California and weighed 10 lb. 4 oz.
Smallmouth bass are native to the northcentral
and northeastern U.S. Although smallmouth
bass have been widely stocked, they prefer
rocky habitats and cooler water temperatures.
There also are two subspecies of smallmouth
bass: the common smallmouth bass (M. dolomieu
dolomieu) and Ozark smallmouth bass (M.
dolomieu velox). They have been successfully
introduced into Texas, primarily in north
to south-central rivers and reservoirs.
The world record was caught in Tennessee
and weighed 10 lb. 14 oz.
The Guadalupe bass is only found in Texas
and it is recognized as the official state
fish. This species prefers flowing waters
associated with riverine habitats. It is
primarily found in the San Antonio, Guadalupe,
and Colorado rivers and portions of the
Brazos River drainage. Guadalupe bass are
relatively small members of the black bass
group, with the world record at 3 lb. 11
The other less abundant black basses include
the redeye or Coosa bass (Micropterus coosae),
shoal bass (Micropterus cataractae), and
Suwannee bass (Micropterus notius). All
three species are native to streams in
the southeastern U.S. The shoal bass world
record is 8 lb. 12 oz., whereas the redeye
and Suwannee world records are only 3 lb.
3 oz. and 3 lb. 14 oz., respectively.
Feel free to contact the local Inland
Fisheries office with questions regarding
this article or area fisheries by phone
(409-384-9572) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Good luck and good fishing