How to Tell a Spotted Bass from a Largemouth Bass

spotted-bass-tennesseeWhile fishing on the Hiwassee River in Tennessee with my main angling squeeze, we had the good fortune of reeling in a species of black bass that is quite often mistaken by anglers for a largemouth. What species was it? It was a spotted bass (Micropterus punctulatus). We were actually fishing for rainbow trout at the time and, after hooking a small one, a sweet spot of nearly 4 lbs decided to make that little trout its late afternoon snack. Such is the circle of life.

I know that we have spotted bass here in Florida, but haven’t yet had the good fortune of catching one in the waters of my home state. Of course, I instantly went into research mode by asking a million questions and looking up whatever information I could find on this species of black bass. What characteristics in specific make the spotted bass distinguishable from the more commonly caught largemouth? Here are three ways you can tell that you’ve caught a spotted bass versus a largemouth:

  • Spotted bass have smaller jaws that do not extend past the rear portion of the eye.
  • The first and second dorsal fins on a spotted bass are clearly connected (higher bridge).
  • Spotted bass also have small black spots under the lateral line (unlike either the largemouth or the smallmouth).

For more information on fish species and identification, visit, and always be sure to research state regulations when fishing new areas outside of your home state.

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