large mouth bass pulled out of murky waters

The largemouth and spotted bass are freshwater game fish who both belong to the Centrarchidae family. Additionally, these two species are both native to the Central and Eastern regions of America and share the same waters.

That, coupled with a few similarities, means that these two species can sometimes be confused with each other.

Because fishing regulations are different in most states, anglers have to be able to differentiate between various fish species; in extension, the spotted bass vs. largemouth bass. Explore differences relating to their size, physical traits, lifespan, and behavior.

Lifespan: Spotted Bass vs. Largemouth Bass.

Studies have shown that the spotted bass fish can live for approximately six years. In comparison, the largemouth bass fish can live up to 16 years in the wild.

Physical features: Spotted Bass vs. Largemouth Bass.

Appearance is one of the things you can use to differentiate between the spotted and largemouth bass.

Dorsal Fin.

You can first examine the dorsal fin, which is located along the fish’s upper body. If you take a close look at the large mouth’s dorsal fin, you’ll notice that is completely separated, or in some case, almost separated.

Other than that, it also doesn’t retreat down to the fish’s upper body. On the other hand, the spotted mouth has a dorsal fin that is connected by a gentle slope. It also has two pieces, a front, and a back section.

spotted bass out of water
A spotted bass fish (image source:


Another key difference in the spotted bass vs. largemouth bass is evident once you open their mouths. In the case of largemouth bass, you will most likely find a smooth surface all across the largemouth fish’s tongue. On the contrary, when you examine a spotted bass, you’ll notice that it has a rough patch right down the middle of its tongue.

Patterns on their stomach.

Most experts agree that examining the stomach of the largemouth and spotted bass remains one of the easiest ways to distinguish between the two.

A spotted bass deep in water
spotted bass in the wild. (Image source:

If you turn a spotted bass, the first thing you’ll notice is the lateral dark markings (lines and spots) that are typically scattered across its body. These spots leave hardly any room for the spotted bass’ white stomach.

In contrast, the largemouth bass hardly has any spots that are pronounced. Instead, you’ll find a white belly with minimal coloring.

Length of their Jaw.

Another obvious difference comes in relation to their jaw. The largemouth bass, as its name suggests, has a huge jaw. It is significantly longer, extending past the eye line and even sticking further down its mouth.

When you switch focus to the spotted bass, you’ll find that both its upper and lower jaw comes in equal proportions. Most notably, the upper jaw does not stretch past their eye.

largemouth bass out of water.
A largemouth bass fish out of the water (image source:

Their scales.

Another easily distinguishable feature lies in the type of scales these fish have. Spotted bass fish tend to have small scales that vary in size all across their body. Interestingly, the largemouth bass’ fish scales come in the exact same shape and size.

Location and Habitat: Spotted Bass vs. Largemouth Bass.

Most anglers will agree that the largemouth bass fish are scattered across America, Canada, and certain parts of Mexico. They like murky waters, so you won’t find them anywhere near clear waters. These fish will also typically stick to waters that are shallow. Other than that, they like to linger close to sunken logs, grass, and any other obstacles.

One other thing you should know is that they prefer warm waters. This is because when the temperature drops, largemouth bass fish tend to be less active. Switching focus to the spotted bass, we found that they are not as easy to find.

large mouth bass pulled out of murky waters
A large mouth bass pulled out of murky waters. (Image source:

In fact, they are hard to locate in natural waters. You’d be better off trying your luck across slow-moving freshwater bodies and reservoirs. Unlike the largemouth bass fish, the spotted bass does not favor murky waters; they like to inhabit clear waters instead.

This means that they’ll be quite easy to spot out in the open water. However, you’ll also be able to find these fish about 30 feet in the water. Another point of note is that unlike the largemouth bass, the spotted bass remains active throughout the year. Their energy does not diminish when their temperature drops.

Behavior in water and Fishing: Spotted Bass vs. Largemouth Bass.

You can differentiate between the pair by observing them in the water, particularly while fishing. Once you get the largemouth bass on the hook, it will dash right to the surface of the water. Most anglers know that if a bass jumps out of the water after entangling itself on your hook, then they are sure that they have caught a largemouth.

largemouth bass in water
Largemouth bass swimming towards the surface. (Image source:

Most fishermen notice how solitary largemouth bass fish tend to be compared to the spotted bass. Secondly, the spotted bass will also behave differently once it’s caught on the hook. These fish tend to retreat and venture much deeper into the water. Other than that, the spotted bass additionally likes to travel in schools.

What is the best time to fish?

Most experienced anglers can differentiate between Spotted Bass vs. Largemouth Bass just from the fishing season alone. To improve their catch rate for the spotted bass, fishermen will typically wait until late spring and early summer. This is the best time to trap spotted bass fish as they tend to spawn around early June or late May.

On the contrary, experts recommend going out between April and May in order to improve your largemouth bass numbers. This is because spawning mostly occurs early in the spring. We should, however, note that the season may change depending on the given latitude.

Subspecies: Spotted Bass vs. Largemouth Bass.

Largemouth Bass fish- Seeing as there are only two subspecies of the largemouth bass, they are quite easy to identify. These are the Florida and Northern Largemouth Bass.

The Northern largemouth is much more prevalent, while the Florida largemouth has a significantly faster growth rate because of the warm waters it inhabits.

Spotted Bass fish- This particular bass has three common subspecies: Alabama Spotted Bass, Wichita Spotted Bass, and Northern Spotted Bass.

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