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In this section you can find general information about some of the species our editors may encounter during the course of our reviews.

Largemouth Bass - Smallmouth Bass - Black Crappie - White Bass - Rock Bass - Bluegill - Pumpkinseed - Green Sunfish - Walleye - Sauger - Saugeye - Channel Catfish - Longnose Gar

 


Largemouth Bass - (Micropterus salmoides)

General info:
There are two types of largemouth bass, the northern and the Florida strain. The largemouth bass is marked by dark, sometimes black, blotches making a horizontal stripe along each side of the fish. The upper jaw of a largemouth bass extends behind the fishes eye socket. The largemouth is the largest of the black basses, reaching a maximum recorded overall length of 97 cm (38 in), and a maximum recorded weight of 10 kg (22¼ lb). Largemouth Bass spawn during late spring to early summer while the water temperature is around 60 F. A male will build a nest in shallow water, usually on a rigid bottom.

Habitat:
The Largemouth Bass often lives in shallow warm water with temperatures between 64 and 74 degrees In habitats less than 20’ deep among reeds, water lilies and other vegetation.  Largemouths usually prefer standing water or water with little to no current.  There are a variety of waters that support largemouth bass such as Farm ponds, small natural ponds, man-made lakes, river backwaters, reservoirs, and natural lakes.

Diet:
The diet of the largemouth bass changes throughout its life span. It eats zooplankton, insects, and crustaceans as a juvenile fish, as it gets older and grows larger it eats smaller fish, frogs and birds. Once the largemouth reaches adulthood it eats small mammals such as rats and mice, bull frogs, and basically anything it can fit into its mouth. Using sight, smell, hearing senses, and their lateral line they ambush their prey under the cover of brush, grass or drop offs.

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Smallmouth Bass – (Micropterus dolomieui)

General Info:
The smallmouth bass is green or bronze in color with dark vertical bands on both sides of the fish. There are 13-15 soft rays in the dorsal fin. The upper jaw of smallmouth bass does not extend beyond the back of the fish’s eye socket. The typical Smallmouth bass caught by anglers is 8 to 15 inches long, and weighs three pounds or less. Spawning occurs in early April and peaks when the surface water temperature reaches 57 ° F.  Smallmouth bass can live up to 18 years in the North but rarely longer than 7 or 8 years in the South, but southern smallmouth grow much faster.

Habitat:
Ideal smallmouth habitat contains a gravel or sand substrate and protective cover such as shoal rocks, drop offs, and submerged logs. Their preferred water temperature is 68-70 degrees F.  Smallmouth bass are usually found in clearer water than the largemouth, especially streams, rivers, and the rocky areas and stumps and also sandy bottoms of lakes and reservoirs. The most used types of cover are overhanging banks, submerged boulders, and large woody debris. Bigger fish are generally found in pools but also utilize runs and deeper riffles for foraging. Young are found in riffles and in aquatic vegetation in shallow water.

Diet:
Young smallmouth bass feed mainly on zooplankton and switch to larger prey like aquatic insects, amphibians, crayfish, and other fish as they grow larger.  Adult smallmouth bass tend to be opportunistic predators and will eat whatever prey is available to them in their environment.  Crayfish are the favored food for smallmouth during spring and summer.  Smallmouth bass usually feed during the day and experience much of their growth during the summer months when food is abundant.

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Black Crappie - (Pomoxis nigromaculatus)

General Info:
The black crappie is very similar to the white crappie except in size, shape, and habits, except that it is darker and has a pattern of black spots. The highest recorded age of a black crappie is fifteen years, although seven years is a more typical life span for this species. Black crappie are most accurately identified by the seven or eight spines on their dorsal fin. Optimum breeding temperature is 14‒20 °C (58‒68 °F) and spawning occurs between April and June.

Habitat:
Black crappie can often be found living in farm ponds and lakes. By day, crappie tend to be less active and to concentrate around weed beds or submerged objects such as logs and boulders; they prefer to feed at dawn and dusk, moving then into open water or approaching the shore.

Diet:
Both species of crappie as adults feed predominantly on smaller species, including the young of their own predators. Black crappie have a diverse diet that includes zooplankton, insects, and crustaceans.

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White Bass – (Morone chrysops)

General Info:
The white bass is a freshwater member of the sea bass family, or Moronidae, a group that contains several commercial ocean species like groupers and jew fish. White bass are silver to dark-gray or black on the back to white on the belly area. Several incomplete lines or stripes run horizontally on each side of the fish's body. Adults look like young striped bass, and as a result the two are often confused. This fish ranges in size from 25 to 38 cm (10 to 15 inches) in length, and usually weighs from 0.5 to 2 kg (1 to 4 lbs), though larger fish are sometimes caught. Adult white bass swim in schools, usually separating themselves into groups of one sex of the other before spawning. These schools of fish will move into shoals in the lake to spawn at random in the spring.

Habitat:
White bass tend to live in clear water usually within 20 feet of the surface, where they school and feed by sight. White bass are usually found in large lakes and streams often connected to major river systems and in rivers with medium current. White bass prefer water with a temperature range of 65 to 75 degrees. Man-made impoundments have greatly helped the white bass, but this species is one that can become overabundant.

Diet:
Young white bass grow fast on a diet of insects, insect larva, crustaceans, and small fish. As they grow they depend more on a fish diet, especially yellow perch and Threadfin shad. This fish prefers threadfin shad. A hungry school of white bass will often pursue schools of shad, causing the shad to jump at the surface of the water creating a "Boil" in their efforts to escape.

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Rock Bass - (Ambloplites rupestris)

General info:
The Rock Bass is a species of freshwater fish belonging to the sunfish family Centrarchidae. They are somewhat similar in appearance to smallmouth bass but are usually much smaller. The typical rock bass is between 6-10 inches, and they hardly ever grow to be over a pound. The Rock Bass is the largest and most common of the Ambloplites species, and has reached a maximum recorded length of 43 cm (17 in), and a maximum recorded weight of 1.4 kg (3.0 lb). They have been known to live as long as 10 years. Rock Bass have the ability to change their color to match their surroundings. It is this trait that allows them to live in such a wide range. The rock bass spawns in the spring, when the water temperature ranges from the upper 60s into the 70s.

Habitat:
The Rock Bass favors a habitat that is clear, has cool to warm waters over a gravel or rocky bottom, and a place with some vegetation. Rock Bass are often found near breakwaters and rip rap shorelines. They are usually seen in groups near other sunfishes like smallmouth bass or pumpkinseeds. During the winter, rock bass move to deeper water, where they enter a kind of hibernation like condition.

Diet:
Rock bass will readily eat a wide variety of foods such as small fish, crayfish, and insects. Adult Rock Bass feed mostly in the evening and morning hours. Young rock bass can also become food for larger predatory fishes such as Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, northern pike, and muskies. Rock Bass directly compete with smallmouth bass for food.

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Bluegill - (Lepomis macrochirus)

General info:
The Bluegill is a member of the sunfish family sometimes referred to as bream, brim, or copper nose. This fish is native to a much of North America, parts of Canada, and northern Mexico. Bluegills have been widely dispersed throughout the country for the purpose of stocking game fish for anglers. The bluegill's most notable feature is the blue or black extension of the gill cover called the opercular flap. The Bluegill has been known to grow to a maximum overall length of approximately 16 in or 40 cm. The bluegill is a schooling fish with schools typically consisting of 20 or more individual fish. These fish spawn 1 to 2 feet in depth during June and preferably nest on a gravel substrate. The Bluegill is preyed upon by adult largemouth bass, channel catfish, and turtles. The largest bluegill ever recorded was 4 pounds 12 ounces, landed in 1950 from Ketona Lake in Alabama.

Habitat:
Bluegills are known for seeking out underwater vegetation for cover. Large bluegills can often be found in ponds and lakes with relatively clear, fertile, and weedy water.

Diet:
Young fish feed on plankton, but as they grow larger their diet shifts to aquatic insects and their larvae. The bluegill’s natural diet also consists of small invertebrates and very small fish.


Pumpkinseed - (Lepomis gibbosus)

General info:
Pumpkinseed are a member of the sunfish family of the order Perciformes. The Pumpkinseed is native to northeastern North America and parts of southern Canada but has been introduced to other parts of North America and Europe. Pumpkinseeds can reach a maximum length of about 40 cm (16"), although sizes of 15–20 cm (6–8") are most often seen. Weights are normally less than 450 grams (1 lb), although larger fish can be caught. Since these fish can reproduce so rapidly and are low on the food chain, a lack of predators in their environment can cause these fish to become a invasive species. Sexual maturity occurs at age two. Males prepare nests in colonies of 3 to 15 nest sites on gravel bottoms in late spring. Sometimes pumpkinseeds will build their nests in bluegill nest colonies, and the two species will interbreed.

Habitat:
Pumpkinseeds prefer to live in shallow water with some weed cover. They are most often found in ponds and small lakes, preferring water temperatures of 39–72 °F. They are active during the day and rest near the bottom at night. Pumpkinseeds are more tolerant of low oxygen levels than bluegills are, but less tolerant of warm water.

Diet:
Pumpkinseed feed at all water levels from the surface to the bottom, and they feed throughout the day, with heaviest feeding during the afternoon. Very young Pumpkinseed feed mainly on zooplankton. Adult pumpkinseed feed on insect larvae (especially mosquito larvae), mollusks, snails, other crustaceans, and small fish.

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Green Sunfish - (Lepomis cyanellus)

General info:
Green sunfish are a member of the sunfish family of the order Perciformes. This fish is native to a large area of North America east of the Rocky Mountains, from the Hudson Bay basin in Canada to the Gulf Coast in the United States and northern Mexico. The green sunfish reaches a maximum recorded length of about 30 cm (12"), with a maximum recorded weight of 2 pounds 2 ounces. Green sunfish typically nest in shallow water colonies where nests are often closely packed together. Gravel or rocky bottom sites are usually preferred for nest building. Spawning occurs in late spring, when water temperatures rise above 70°F, and may continue throughout the summer. Green sunfish have a larger mouth than most sunfish and a thicker, longer body, more like a warmouth than other sunfish. Green sunfish are very aggressive and have a tendency to overpopulate the body of water in which they live.

Habitat:
Green Sunfish are found in a wide veriety of waters such as small brooks to large lakes. These fish prefer weeded shorelines or rocky cover rather than open water.

Diet:
Spawned in late spring to eary summer, fry feed on microscroptic animals and plants. When they reach adulthood, worms, insects, and small minnows are the Green Sunfish's main sources of food. Adult green sunfish have also been known to eat crayfish and frogs.

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Walleye - (Sander vitreus)

General Info:
Walleyes are mostly olive and gold in color. The mouth of a walleye is quite large and is filled with lots of sharp teeth. Walleyes can grow to around 75 cm (30 in) in length, and weigh up to around 7 kg (15 lb). The maximum recorded size for a Walleye is 107 cm (42 in) in length and 11.3 kg (25 lb) in weight. The Walleye’s growth depends on where in their range they live.  Southern populations usually grow faster and larger. In general, females grow larger than males. Walleyes have been known to live for many years; the maximum known age is 29 years. In heavily fished populations, few walleye older than 5 or 6 years of age are caught. Adults migrate to tributary streams in late winter or early spring to lay their eggs over gravel and rock. Spawning takes place at water temperatures of 6 to 10° C (43 to 50° F).

Habitat:
Walleye tend to congregate at underwater reefs throughout rivers and lakes as the spring turns to summer. Walleye tend to prefer light currents and hard gravel bottoms for spawning. But this species adapts very well, and is usually found at depths up to 12 meters as it seeks out low light conditions.

Diet:
Walleyes are sight feeders and they tend to shy away from intense light. Walleye are most active at dawn, dusk and on cloudy days. These fish are veracious predators. They eat small bass, trout, pike, perch and sunfishes.

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Sauger - (Sander canadensis)

General info:
The Sauger is a freshwater Perch like fish of the family Percidae which looks like its close relative the walleye. Saugers, however, are usually smaller and will tolerate waters of higher cloudiness than will the walleye will. Saugers may be distinguished from walleyes by their spotted dorsal fin, by the lack of a white spot on the bottom of their caudal fin, by the rough skin over their gill, and by their more brassy color, or darker almost black color in some areas of the country.  The average sauger caught weights about 300 to 400 g (0.75 to 1 lbs) but the world record is 8.1 kg (17 lbs, 12 ounces.) Saugers are found more often in rivers whereas walleyes are more common in lakes and reservoirs. Sauger spawn in spring in water 2 to 8 feet deep.

Habitat:
Saugers prefer cloudy, moving water. This fish can better sustain itself in river environments than in lake environments when non favorable weather patterns occur.

Diet:
Young saugers eat zooplankton and insect larvae. Adults will also eat fish, leeches, and crayfish. Their eating habits are somewhat similar to a walleye. However, aquatic insects tend to be a larger part of the sauger's diet and considering their smaller size, the sauger tends to consume smaller fish than the walleye can.

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Saugeye - (Sander vitreus X Sander canadenses)

General info:
Saugeye are the hybrid offspring of a female walleye and male sauger. The dark bars on the dorsal fin are one of the best identifying features of this fish. Sharp canine teeth, dark blotches on the sides, and a white tip on the lower tail also help to identify the saugeye. Since saugeye are a Hybrid species they are almost always sterile. Saugeye are bred in fish hatcheries and have to be stocked on a regular basis in an attempt to maintain populations of this fish. The world record saugeye is 12 pounds, 6 ounces caught in Ohio.

Habitat:
Saugeye tend to gather close to the bottom on sand bars or near underwater drop-offs. Saugeye are generally found at greater depths than walleye prefer. Saugeye have a tendency scatter during the summer, which can make it more difficult to find them during this time.

Diet:
Saugeye primarily eat other species of fish, especially shad. They also have been known to feed on crustaceans, such as crayfish, as well as snails, insects and insect larvae. Young saugeye will feed almost exclusively on insects and insect larvae.

 


Channel Catfish - (Ictalurus punctatus)

General info:
Channel catfish are North America's most numerous catfish species. The color of these fish is olive-brown to slate-blue on the back and sides, silvery-white on the belly area. Channel catfish have a maximum size of around 40 or 50 pounds (18-23 kg). The world record channel catfish weighed 58 pounds. Channel catfish possess very potent senses of smell and taste. These fish have pits in their nostrils that are very sensitive odor sensing organs. The channel cat spawns in early summer when the water reaches about 75-80 degrees.

Habitat:
Channel catfish have a large range throughout the United States and thrive in small rivers, large rivers, Lakes, reservoirs, and ponds. Channel catfish are most numerous in large streams with low or moderate current. These fish prefer cooler, deeper, cleaner water, and areas with a sand or gravel bottom. During the day, they like to hide among rocks or logs.

Diet:
These fish mostly take a their food from the bottom, but they can also feed at the surface. The channel cat feeds on crayfish, snails, aquatic insects, other invertebrates, and small fish.  This fish is much more likely to feed on carrion than other catfish.

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Longnose Gar - (Lepisosteus osseus)

General info:
The longnose gar is a truly ancient fish that has changed very little since the days when dinosaurs roamed the earth. The longnose gar is also known to some as the needlenose gar. The longnose gar is a primarily an ambush predator. This fish is found mainly in sluggish backwaters, low inflow pools and streams. The longnose gar ranges in length from 24–40 inches (60–100 cm) and weighs 1 to 7 pounds (0.5–3.5 kg). This fish's snout is quite long and contains many large teeth. This gar has a long cylindrical body covered with diamond-shape scales. These fish spawn from early April to early June, depending on the location, in shallow riffle areas. The longnose gar is found in rivers and lakes throughout the eastern half of the United States, as far north as southern Canada and and as far south as northern Mexico. Female Longnose gar grow faster, larger, and live longer than males and can reach lengths in excess of five feet.

Habitat:
Longnose gar are often found in shallow lakes and rivers. This very hardy fish can live in very warm water with little oxygen. These fish are usually found near vegetation and occasionally in brackish waters.

Diet:
Young longnose gar mainly feed on zooplankton. After this fish grows larger they feed on small fishes, frogs and crustaceans. They tend to feed by stalking their prey or lying in wait for their prey to come within its striking distance.

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