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Smallmouth Bass – Invasive Species – Part 15

Head

The Smallmouth Bass is native from Southern Quebec to Minnesota as well to the Tennessee River in Alabama. While, the western range is from eastern Oklahoma and South West Arkansas. Meanwhile, looking at this species, we include smallmouth bass spawning.

The smallmouth is also known as a Bronzeback Brown Bass, Brownie, Smallie, Bronze Bass or Bareback Bass. Related to the Largemouth Bass.

This fish reaches up to 69cm in length. Males are generally smaller than females. With males averaging around two pounds, while females can grow from three to six pounds. Tend to be Green or brown with dark bands that run vertically.

Although as fish ages, these vertical lines become lighter to almost disappearing. This fish’s coloration and hue may vary according to environmental conditions such as water clarity or diet. They have thirteen to fifteen soft rays on their dorsal fin. While, the upper jaw never extends beyond the eye.

Invasive Species Definition

The definition of an invasive species is any species that is not native to our ecosystems and cause harm when introduced to the ecosystems. Furthermore, these may include amphibians, plants, insects, fish, fungus, bacteria and more. Impacts on the environment may cause economic loss or affect human health.

While, Invasive species tend to grow and reproduce quickly and spread aggressively with the potential to cause harm on the environment, economy or even human health. Therefore, given the label “invasive”.

Biology of the Smallmouth bass

Their habitat plays a significate role in their color, weight and shape. While, river water smallmouths that live in dark water tend be more torpedo-shaped and dark brown, the Lakeside smallmouth bass, living in sandy areas tends to be light yellow brown are more oval-shaped.

The smallmouth bass have two recognized subspecies are the Northern smallmouth bass and the Neosho smallmouth bass. Found in streams, rivers and rocky areas, sandy bottoms of lakes and reservoirs as well as stumps. Prefer cooler, clearer waters. Also found in running water.

Prefer large clear-water lakes and cool streams with clear water and gravel substrates. As generalists with a voracious diet the bass can thrive in lakes all over the United States. The smallmouth bass is a hardy species capable of being transported in buckets or barrels.

Carnivorous diet comprises of crayfish, insects and small fish was well as zooplankton. As the weather gets colder, water temperatures drop, and fish migrate to deeper pools to ender a semi-hibernation state. Here, they move sluggishly and feed little. This migration can exceed sixty miles.

While, adult smallmouth bass feed on Asian Clams, Zebra Mussels, Tiger Prawns, Barnacles, Spiny Waterflea, Faucet Snail, Daphnia, Common Slipper Shell, Crabs, Melania, Signal Crayfish, Virile Crayfish, Crawfish, frogs, gribble, Apple Snails and whelks.

Smallmouth Bass Spawning

As water temperatures increase in spring, smallmouth bass spawning occurs. With nests located near shores of lakes, downstream from boulders or some other obstruction that offers protection against currents in streams.

Meanwhile, during smallmouth bass spawning, a male may spawn with several females on a single nest. While, each female produces around 2000-15000 golden yellow eggs. Eggs take between two and three days in ideal temperatures to hatch. Males guard the nests from the time the eggs are laid until they fry begin to disperse, which can take up to a month. The fry feed on zooplankton, switching to insect larvae and finally fish and crayfish as they grow.

Meanwhile, small fish tend to hide in Brazilian Waterweed, Common Water Hyacinth, Milfoil, watercress, pondweed, Salvinia, flowing rush, taro, pampas grass and common reeds.

Effect on Ecosystem

Originally introduced to various waters as a sports fish. This bass is out-competing other native fishes. As this is a very predatory fish. Even eating smaller smallmouth bass. Thereby, making it a serious threat to native fish populations.

Its adaptability has allowed it to establish itself all over the United States, threatening fish populations everywhere. With a voracious appetite they reduce the availability of prey fauna for native fishes thereby reducing fish diversity significantly.

Prone to infections by Asian Tapeworms and Swim Bladder Worms. Can be affected by Didymo and Killer Algae growths. While, prey to Spectacled Caiman, Nile Monitor, Watersnakes and Pike Topminnow.

Smallmouth Bass Spawning

Introduction to USA

Invasive Species

Their current range was north into Minnesota and southern Quebec, South to the Tennessee River and west into eastern Oklahoma and South West Arkansas. This bass has spread through fishermen catching and releasing it to liveable environments. Their range now includes most states in the United States.

Including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York.

As well as, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming. The only states where this fish has not been introduced is Florida and Louisiana.

Management of the Smallmouth Bass

Management by fishing

The bass is largely established in almost all continental United States, where it is seen as a sport fish and not an invasive in the non-native states. Therefore, management will be difficult. It can only help not to introduce this fish to any other areas thereby, reducing the spread of the bass further. One method for management of the fish includes angling. While, this is a very popular game fish, sought after by anglers using conventional spinning, bait casting and fly fishing.

One of the toughest freshwater fighting fish. Highly sought after for its topwater fighting ability when hooked. Often taken for the table, with fillets of white, firm flesh. Conventional fishing methods have become norm when fishing bass. With a wide range of natural and artificial baits or lures, including crankbaits, spinnerbaits, jigs, jerk baits, artificial worms, and soft plastic lures, and many more.

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