Posts Tagged ‘tournaments’

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.


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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I had the pleasure to fish the annual Lazy Acres Fishing Tournament on Bull Shoals Lake over the weekend. There were 18 boats entered into the tournament and more than half brought in limits of largemouth, smallmouth and Kentucky bass.

Lazy Acres is located on the south side of Buck Creek near mid lake. I fished with Tom Visconti and we caught more than 40 bass during the eight-hour event.

Lazy Acres Annual Bass Tournament

Boats Getting Ready for the 6:45 a.m. Take Off from the south point of Buck Creek.

The top-water bite was on as was the lizard bite. We spent most of our time in Big Creek (Big Cedar Creek) and East Sugar Camp.

The fish were sitting on the outside of the buck brush and were holding tight to it. If the fish did not hit within the first 10 feet past the brush, then we picked up and started over.

Top-Water Baits:

  • Zara Spook Jr. (Color: white pearl)
  • Chug Bug (Color: black back with silver sides)


  • Zoom 8” (Color: Green Pumpkin) Texas rigged

There were also reports of a lot of fish being caught on Zoom Flukes (White Pearl) on #3 Gamagatsu hooks thrown just in front of the buck brush.

It was an exciting day with one of the best weigh-ins the tournament has ever seen. Everyone caught fish. The team that won the tournament fished in the Big Buck Creek and Trimble Creek areas…as did the second- and third-place teams.

The top three places all had between 14 and 15.75 lbs…which is a decent weigh-in total.

Did anyone else duplicate this pattern? Did you find a different pattern? If so, let me know because I’m heading back down in two weeks.

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Every year I face the same dilemma: Should I attend the St. Louis Boat Show at the America’s Center in Downtown St. Louis. I mean, I love going to check out the new boats, but I always leave realizing that I will never be able to afford one of those new boats.

All the big bass boat manufacturers show up with their best products, and they are nice…VERY nice. But I have trouble with the prices they are asking. A new boat from any of the big boys is going to run between $35,000 and $48,000. That is just crazy! How these can be more expensive than cars is beyond me.

Let’s start with the heart of a boat…the motor. A new 200hp Mercury will cost around $20,000! Then you have a fiberglass frame…a few compartments, a trolling motor and electronics. Generally, that’s about it. I guess it all comes down to what a person is willing to pay. Demand for the product is the driver.

I currently own a 1988 17.6’ Champion bass boat. It has a 115 hp straight six Mariner motor, and I have not had any trouble with it since taking over ownership in 2000. The boat will run about 45 mph which is plenty fast for me. I paid $6,000 for it from a friend of the family. He was the original owner and always took immaculate care of not only his boat, but also everything he owned.

While my boat is not the fastest one on the water, it gets me to where I need to be on the lake and back. I almost always catch fish when I venture out (I do get an occasional “skunking”) and it allows me to fish tournaments without feeling inferior. In fact, there is no better feeling than coming in to weigh in realizing that I have beaten at least one of the guys in the $40,000 boats!

Even thought the boats at the show are out of my price range, I still enjoy viewing the new features that each manufacturer dreams up from year to year. I will probably take the family down this year and let the kids get in the big boats. But each year, I always leave feeling a little disappointed. Perhaps this year I will find an area of the show that is dedicated to pre-owned boats that have been traded in by the big boys who have just purchased a new, expensive new model!

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