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Largemouth Bass

Largemouth Bass


body green-shaded with a broad, continuous dark stripe along each side; belly white to yellowish; dorsal fin almost completely separated between spiny and soft portion and lower jaw extends past the gold-colored eye; commonly reach lengths up to 16 inches by three years of age


Largemouth Bass Distribution

statewide in lakes, ponds, and quiet rivers


fish, frogs, crayfish, aquatic insects

State Record

10 pounds, 12 ounces - Lake Fisher, Davis County, May 1984 - Patricia Zaerr, Davenport, Iowa

Expert Tip

bass are usually caught around structure, look for partially submerged trees and boat docks pilings!


The largemouth is a fish of lakes, ponds and quiet river waters where its abundance varies from common to abundant. Distribution of the largemouth bass in Iowa is statewide, mainly from the fact that this species has been stocked by the Conservation Commission into nearly every lake, pond and reservoir. It is uncommonly found in the interior rivers, preferring the quiet waters of overflow oxbows and backwaters along these streams. Occurrence is common in the impounded waters of the Mississippi River, especially the sloughs and backwaters. Early records indicate this species was found only in Missouri River sloughs and adjoining oxbow lakes, but recent sampling showed that they were present in the main channel, closely associated with rock-armored revetments and channel stabilization structures. It is stocked into farm ponds in combination with bluegill and channel catfish.

A rather slender, streamlined sunfish, the largemouth has a very large mouth, hence its name, with the upper jaw extending far past the rear margin of the eye when the mouth is closed (except in small young). The spiny and soft portions of the dorsal fin are almost completely separated by a deep notch. The middle of the green shaded body has a broad continuous dark stripe, but this sometimes becomes indistinct in large adults and fish taken from turbid water. The belly is greenish white or yellowish, and the eye is usually gold. The pyloric caeca, which are finger-like extensions at the junction of the stomach and intestine, are forked, and the tail fin in young largemouth bass is distinctly bicolored -- not tricolored as in spotted bass and smallmouth bass -- and the rear part at the fin is much darker than the basal part.

Largemouth bass is the primary predator in many of our lakes, ponds, and quiet rivers, foraging on fish, crayfish, frogs, aquatic and terrestrial insects, and any small living animal or bird which falls in the water. The small sac fry of bass feed upon microscopic crustaceans. First-food items are supplemented with insects and insect larvae as the fish grows. Largemouth bass usually start foraging on fish when they are 1 to 2 inches in length.

Reproduction characteristics of largemouth bass are quite similar to the other sunfishes. Spawning commences in early May and lasts into June when the water temperature is 63 to 68 degrees F. They deposit their eggs on the roots of submerged plants or grass over rocky or mud bottoms. Male largemouth bass usually construct a nest prior to spawning, but sometimes they will spawn with very little nest preparation. Water depth over nests ranges from 1 to 15 feet, but the normal depth is 1 1/2 to 3 feet.

The eggs, which may vary from 2,000 to 26,000 in each nest, hatch in 3 to 6 days depending upon water temperature. Largemouth bass in Iowa average 4 to 6 inches in length during the first year, but lengths of 10 to 12 inches are not unusual in newly stocked lakes and ponds. Total lengths of 8 to 12 inches are expected in the latter part of the second year of life, and fish up to 16 inches are common in the third year. Both sexes usually reach sexual maturity in their third year of life, but faster growing bass can mature in the second year. Largemouth bass have been known to reach 22 pounds in the southern states, but in Iowa they are smaller. The record Iowa bass weighed 10 pounds, 12 ounces and was caught in 1984 from Fisher Lake near Bloomfield.


Present in these Iowa water bodies:

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Lake/Stream County Location Acres/Length
Red Rock Reservoir Marion 4 miles north of Knoxville 15250.00
Big Spirit Lake Dickinson 1m N Spirit Lake 5684.00
Coralville Reservoir Johnson 4 miles north of Iowa City 5280.00
Saylorville Reservoir Polk North edge of Des Moines 4970.00
West Okoboji Lake Dickinson northwest edge of Arnolds Park 3847.00
Lake Odessa Louisa 5 miles east of Wapello 3000.00
Lost Island Lake Palo Alto 3 miles north of Ruthven 1162.00
Silver Lake (Dickinson) Dickinson west edge of Lake Park 1041.00
Five Island Lake Palo Alto north edge of Emmetsburg 973.00
Lake Macbride Johnson 4 miles West of Solon 889.00
Three Mile Lake Union 3 miles northwest of Afton 880.00
Big Creek Lake Polk 2 miles north of Polk City 814.00
DeSoto Bend Harrison 5 miles west of Missouri Valley 811.00
Lake Manawa Pottawattamie Southwest edge of Council Bluffs 747.00
Little River Watershed Lake Decatur 1 mile west of Leon 743.00
Black Hawk Lake Sac east edge of Lake View 729.00
Brushy Creek Lake Webster 5 miles east of Lehigh 690.00
Lake Icaria Adams 4 miles north of Corning 648.00
Twelve Mile Creek Lake Union 4 miles east of Creston 635.00
Little Spirit Lake Dickinson 4 miles north of Orleans 604.00
Browns Lake Woodbury 2 miles west of Salix 580.00
Lake Sugema Van Buren 3 miles southwest of Keosauqua 574.00
Green Island Lake Jackson 1m E green Island 526.00
Rock Creek Lake Jasper 4 miles northeast of Kellogg 466.20
Pleasant Creek Lake Linn 4 miles North of Palo 401.00
Lost Grove Lake Scott Six miles east of Eldridge 400.00
East Hottes Dickinson 378.00
Snyder Bend Lake Woodbury 1 1/2 miles west of Salix 375.00
Ingham Lake Emmet 6 miles east of Wallingford 357.00
Green Valley Lake Union 2 1/2 miles northwest of Creston 338.00
West Lake (Osceola) Clarke 2 miles west of Osceola 320.00
Carter Lake Pottawattamie North edge of Carter Lake. 315.00
Lake Darling Washington 4 miles west of Brighton 303.00
Lake Wapello Davis 7 miles west of Drakesville 289.00
Roberts Creek Lake Marion 6 miles northeast of Knoxville 288.00
Badger Creek Lake Madison 5 miles southeast of Van Meter 276.00
Blue Lake Monona 3 miles west of Onawa 269.00
Lake Belva Deer Keokuk 5 miles northeast of Sigourney 264.00
Middle Sabula Lake Jackson W edge Sabula 260.00
Martens Lake Bremer 1 mi E of Tripoli 255.00
Lower Gar Lake Dickinson ½ mile south of Arnolds Park 251.00
Little Wall Lake Hamilton 1 1/2 miles south of Jewell 249.00
Crystal Lake Hancock north edge of Crystal Lake 244.00
Blue Heron Lake (Raccoon River Park) Polk southwest of West Des Moines; Raccoon River Park 232.00
Center Lake Dickinson 2 miles west, 1/2 miles south of Spirit Lake 220.00
Nashua Impoundment (Cedar Lake) Chickasaw Located on the east edge of Nashua. 200.00
Hawthorn Lake (aka Barnes City Lake) Mahaska 1 mile south of Barnes City 182.00
Easter Lake Polk southeast edge of Des Moines 179.10
Lake Geode Henry 4 miles southwest of Danville 174.00
Prairie Rose Lake Shelby 8 miles southeast of Harlan 173.00
Lake Anita Cass 1/2 miles south of Anita 159.00
Don Williams Lake Boone 5 miles north of Ogden 151.00
Diamond Lake Dickinson 2 miles east, 2 miles north of Montgomery 143.00
Morris Lake Lucas 3 miles east of Chariton 141.00
Lake Miami Monroe 5 miles southeast of Lovilla 140.00
Ada Hayden Heritage Park Lake Story North side of Ames, west of Grand Avenue/Highway 69. 137.00
Viking Lake Montgomery 4 miles east of Stanton 136.00
Volga Lake Fayette Located 3 miles north of Fayette. 135.00
Brinker Lake Black Hawk N edge Waterloo 134.00
Deep Lakes Muscatine 130.00
South Sabula Lake Jackson 130.00
Minnewashta Lake Dickinson 1/2 mile south of Arnolds Park 118.00
Lake Ahquabi Warren 5 miles southwest of Indianola 114.00
Iowa Lake Iowa 5 miles North of Millersburg 107.00
Upper Centerville Reservoir Appanoose South edge of Centerville 102.00
Hickory Grove Lake Story 3 miles southwest of Colo 100.30
Union Grove Lake Tama 4 miles South of Gladbrook 100.00
Swan Lake Carroll 3 miles southeast of Carroll 100.00
Lake Fisher Davis 2 miles northwest of Bloomfield 100.00
Diamond Lake Poweshiek 1 mile West of Montezuma 98.00
Grays Lake Polk Fleur Drive, Des Moines 96.00
Sand Lake Marshall On the Northeast edge of Marshalltown 95.00
RAPP Park Lakes Page north edge of Shenandoah 95.00
Terry Trueblood Lake Johnson 1.5 miles south of Hwy 6 on Gilbert Street in Iowa City. 90.00
Beeds Lake Franklin 2 miles west, 1 mile north of Hampton 90.00
Cedar Lake Madison 2 miles northeast of Winterset 90.00
Bob White Lake Wayne 1 mile west of Allerton 89.00
Sweet Marsh Reservoir Bremer 85.00
Loch Ayr Ringgold 2 miles north of Mt. Ayr 83.00
Ellis Lake Lucas 1 mile east of Chariton 83.00
Pony Creek Lake Mills 3 1/2 miles northwest of Glenwood 83.00
Backbone Lake Delaware 4m SW Strawberry Point 80.00
Lake Keomah Mahaska 6 miles east of Oskaloosa 78.00
Red Haw Lake Lucas 1 mile east of Chariton 76.00
Binder Lake Adams 1 mile northeast of Corning 76.00
George Wyth Lake Black Hawk N edge Waterloo 75.00
Otter Creek Lake Tama 6 miles Northeast of Toledo 74.00
Lake of Three Fires Taylor 3 miles northeast of Bedford 72.00
Corydon Reservoir Wayne West edge of Corydon 70.00
Littlefield Lake Audubon 4 miles east of Exira 70.00
Upper Pine Lake Hardin 1/2 mile east of Eldora 69.00
Lake Pahoja Lyon 4 miles south, 2 miles west of Larchwood 65.00
Fontana Mill Lake Buchanan .5m S Hazleton 63.00
Lower Pine Lake Hardin 1/2 mile east of Eldora 62.00
Crawford Creek Impoundment Ida 3 1/2 miles south of Battle Creek 62.00
Nine Eagles Lake Decatur 3 1/2 miles southeast of Davis City 62.00
Atlantic Quarry Pond 3 Cass 60.90
Walnut Creek Marsh Ringgold 5 miles southwest of Mt. Ayr 60.00
Alice Wyth Lake Black Hawk north edge of Waterloo 60.00
Sands Timber Lake (Blockton Reservoir) Taylor 1 mile northwest of Blockton 60.00
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