Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

TWRA's Region 4 - East Tennessee

Reservoir Fisheries Management Program

Largemouth Bass - Micropterus salmoides

(This page was last updated - 06/26/2007)

Scientific name: Micropterus salmoides (Micropterus = "torn fin ", salmoides = "the trout")

Common names: largemouth bass, bigmouth, green trout

largemouth bass
A Norris Reservoir largemouth bass - photo by Jim Negus

Species Overview

Largemouth bass is the most well known and sought after of the four species of black bass found in Tennessee. They are common throughout the state.

The Tennessee state angling record was taken from Sugar Creek in 1954 and weighed 14 pounds and 8 ounces.


Largemouth is the only bass in Tennessee with a jaw that extends past the eye and a low bridge between the spiny and soft dorsal fins. They also have a dark mid-lateral band of pigmentation which is also common to spotted bass. See the bass identification page for reference.


largemouth bass melanosis
A Fort Loudoun Reservoir largemouth with hyperpigmented melanosis - photo by Jim Negus


Young largemouth feed on aquatic insect larvae and zooplankton, but quickly switch over to larval fish. Adults feed on various items including, but not limited to fish, amphibians, and crayfish.

They may live more than 20 years, but rarely reach 15-16 years of age in Tennessee.

Life Cycle

Spawning occurs from April to June when water temperatures rise into the 60s. The male builds the nest in shallow water in firm substrate then entices a ripe female to deposit her eggs. More than one female may spawn in the nest of a single male. The males guard the eggs and fry until they disperse.



largemouth bass
A Big Ridge State Park largemouth bass - photo by Jim Negus


Along with the help of fishing regulations, largemouth bass are usually able to maintain healthy populations through natural reproduction. There has been a limited amount of supplemental stocking performed by the TWRA in state managed lakes and a few reservoirs.


Etnier, D. and W. Starnes. 1993. The Fishes of Tennessee. The University of Tennessee Press.