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Posts Tagged ‘spring fishing’

How to Tell the Difference between a Kentucky/Spotted Bass and a Largemouth Bass

When I first started fishing lakes that contained both Kentucky and Largemouth bass, I did not care about identifying which one was on the end of my line. I just enjoyed catching fish. However, once I started fishing tournaments, I had to differentiate between the two species on lakes that have different size limits for each one. For example, Lake of the Ozarks and Bull Shoals Lake each have a 15” limit on black bass but a 12” limit for Kentucky bass.

I will never forget my first tournament on that lake, my partner and I were catching a ton of “bass” on Chompers…and we were having a fantastic time doing it. Neither of us knew, for sure, how to differentiate between the two species. All we had heard was that Kentucky bass have a rough patch on their tongue. We didn’t know HOW rough of a patch…just a rough patch. So…when we started catching fish after fish, if we felt anything AT ALL on the tongue, into the live well it went!

We were a red faced at weigh in and VERY lucky that a conservation agent did not stop us on the water to check our fish. Most of our 12-inch fish were, in fact, largemouth bass! Lucky for us, it was tournament that consisted of a bunch of friends, so we were simply mocked and made fun of instead of receiving monetary penalties.

Differences between a Largemouth Bass and a Spotted Bass

The Tongue

As stated above, spots have a rough patch on their tongue. Largemouth bass do not. Please note that the rough patch is very noticeable on a spotted bass, and you might feel “something” on the tongue of a largemouth.

The Hinge of the Mouth

There is a reason that largemouth bass are called largemouth! If you were to draw a line straight down from the back of a largemouth’s eye to the bottom of the jaw, the end of the hinge of its mouth would be behind that line. Kentucky bass, on the other hand, will have the hinge in front of that line.

Kentucky Bass

The jaw of the Kentucky Bass is in front of the back of the eye.

Largemouth Bass

The hinge of the Largemouth's jaw extends behind the back of the eye.

 

The Dorsal Fin

Both species have a set of dorsal fins. The front one is larger than the rear fin. The difference is that, on a spotted bass, there is little to no separation between the two. A large mouth will have as distinct ending and beginning between the two.

Kentucky Bass

Little or no separation between dorsal fins.

Largemouth Bass

There is a definite separation between the fins.

Coloration

Both species of bass have a lateral line running down the middle of their body. Spotted bass have blotches or “spots”

above their lateral line. They also have a bluish/green tint to their color. Largemouth bass on the other hand, favor the green side of the color wheel!

The Cheek Scales

Cheek scales on a largemouth bass are the same size as the rest of the scales on its body. Spotted bass have noticeably smaller scales on their cheeks.

Another big difference between the two species is how they fight on the end of the line. Largemouth bass tend to come straight to the top of the water and try to shake the lure out of their mouth. Kentucky bass fight more like a smallmouth. They head to the bottom and resist every inch of the way to the surface.

Hopefully the next time you hook a bass at your favorite lake, you will be better able to identify the football on the end of your line.

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Not only does this help beat the winter blues, but it also makes my fishing more enjoyable when I do get to the water since everything is in its place.

I usually start with my rods by taking them out of my boat and replacing all of my line. If it is a spinning rod, I like to mark the spool with the lb. test I’m using with a permanent marker. I check the rods’ guides for any rough spots or nicks and make sure all the reels are working correctly. If any of them are in need of repair, I take them to my local bait shop that also specializes in rod and reel repair. Remember, the closer to March that you drop them off, the longer it is going to take to get them back since a lot of anglers are having the same idea as you!

Next comes the issue of lures. What typically happens to my lures throughout the year is that A) they get let on my deck while I am searching for the bait that the fish like. The end result is a large pile of lures at my feet on the front of the boat. B) The lures get stuck in boxes that they don’t belong in. Typical scenarios that cause this include trying to condense boxes together to take with me when I fish in someone else’s boat or hurrying to put lures away at the end of a long day or before a storm hits. Either way, I end up with rogues in my crankbait box or spinnerbaits in with my soft plastics (NEVER let this happen if at all possible!!).

I like to clear my back deck off and open all of my lure boxes at one time so moving from one to another is easy. I like to separate my trolling lures from my regular bass fishing lures. I then separate by the type of lure, then by color. I end up with a easily manageable set of tackle boxes.

Once my rods and lures are organized, I neatly place them back in their compartments so they are ready for the season. Check back in the near future, and I will detail what I do to my boat to get it ready for the spring fishing season!

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I absolutely LOVE this time of year since a majority of my Christmas gifts
are Bass Pro Shops Gift Certificates. I typically get between $150 to $300
worth of gift cards from friends and relatives during the holidays.
However, even though there is a great amount of joy experienced when I
actually receive the cards, I absolutely DREAD the long wait to the Bass
Pro Spring fishing sale in March. These are the longest three months of my
year.

When March arrives, I eagerly check the mailbox daily in anticipation of
the mailer that announces this annual event. My wife always asks why the
bill of my hat is so curved all the time. My answer is that it’s from
continuously sticking my head in the mailbox to see if the Bass Pro flyer
has arrived. When it does finally arrive, I do a secret little dance in my
head and browse the contents of the flyer to try and begin the daunting
task of narrowing down list of things that I need, and…more
truthfully…want. Do I purchase hunting gear or do I stay with fishing
equipment? Do I buy gadgets that will make my bass boat more productive or
efficient or do I stick with camping equipment that will keep me and my
family dry and comfortable?

Luckily, Bass Pro has a HUGE assortment of products that anyone who loves
the outdoors can find something they “need”. This year, I believe I am
going to focus on bass fishing equipment. I have debated getting some
predator hunting equipment so I can chase coyotes and crows, but, I
already have the calls needed, and I don’t get the chance to hunt them as
much as I would like…so spending valuable money on these would not be the
best choice for me.

I have in-laws that live at Bull Shoals Lake, so my chances to fish are
much greater. It is looking like fishing rods are going to be the annual
choice this year. I need to get all of my rods and reels out and line them
up. I feel certain that my reels outnumber my rods at the moment. However,
some of my reels (including my Shimano Curado’s) are nearly 15 years
old…and are beginning to fail. I also have some high-profile Ambassador
reels that I don’t care much for standard bass fishing, but they excel for
trolling for Summer bass and walleye. I prefer low-profile reels for
standard bass fishing since they fit in my hands better. I am thinking I
will be able to purchase three or four rods with the $150 I have to spend.
It’s looking like one spinning rod, one rod for fishing rogues and one or
two heavy trolling rods.

For now, all I can do is visit the store and begin my research and hope
that what I like will make the sale tables in March. I always take my kids
because they really enjoy going and seeing the fish in the large tank as
well as the boats and 4-wheelers that they can sit on and enjoy. What I do
know is that I will be ready when the sale starts. Until then, I will be
checking my mailbox for that lovely sale flyer.

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