As one of Florida's top freshwater predators, the largemouth bass is an essential part of the state's ecosystem, keeping balance of prey food sources such as small fish, insects, worms, crayfish and frogs.
Largemouth bass spawn in the spring when water temperatures warm to the mid-60 degrees F, usually in May. In the southernmost parts of Florida, this might occur in February, while in the Panhandle area, spawning might take place as late as July.
Before the spawn, the male clears a nest in water usually less than 3 feet deep. The nest is a shallow depression of sand and gravel.
A female with anywhere from 2,000 to 145,000 eggs will release them into the nest, where the male will fertilize them. The female then leaves the nest and the male guards the eggs until hatching occurs three to seven days later.
Largemouth bass fry are transparent and small, about 3 mm in length, born with a yolk sack attached to them. The yolk sac is absorbed in a matter of days after hatching.
Predation and fungi infection are two of the hazards that face bass fry. Of perhaps 5,000 successfully hatched eggs, only 10 might reach a length of 25 cm.
Article Written By Paul Weidknecht
Paul Weidknecht’s non-fiction has appeared in "Outdoor Life," "Yale Anglers' Journal," "Fur-Fish-Game," "Snowy Egret," and elsewhere. His fiction has appeared in "Clapboard House," "Potomac Review" online, "Stone's Throw" magazine, "The Oklahoma Review," and "Freight Train" magazine. He lives in northwest New Jersey. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Muhlenberg College.