The Small Mouth Bass of the Pacific Northwest
The Small Mouth Bass is a freshwater fish that is found in the lakes and rivers of southern Vancouver Island, but is very uncommon on the North Island. They quite pretty.
These bass are warm water fish species, usually found in rocky and sandy areas of lakes and rivers in moderately shallow water and near rocks of shoals or submerged logs. It is less often associated with dense growths of aquatic vegetation than large mouth bass.
The food of the small mouth bass is mainly composed of insects, crayfish and fishes. The small mouth bass takes this variety of food from the surface, in the water column, and off the bottom. They do not eat on the surface, but feed near the bottom.
These bass are important commercially. The small mouth bass is an excellent food fish, marketed fresh and frozen.
Spawning occurs in the early spring, when water temperature begins to rise above 60 degrees. During this time, the male will build a nest in shallow water above a gravel or rock bottom. The female will then drop her eggs and the male will fertilize them. Between 5,000 and 14,000 eggs will be dropped from the mother. After her eggs are all dropped, she returns to deeper water. After about a week, the eggs hatch and the male bass cares for them. Together, they will form a school called a “brood swarm,” and stay in it for a month. The majority of the newly hatched bass, also known as “fry,” die within this period. The average lifespan of a bass that survives the first month is 10 to 12 years, but they have lived for more than 20 years in captivity. Female small mouth bass are usually larger than male bass of the same age.