Largemouth bass top the charts when it comes to freshwater fishing targets. Also known as “bigmouths” and “bucketmouths,” they sport an exceptionally large mouth as their name suggests. Close cousins to the smallmouth bass, which prefers cooler deeper water, largemouths grow bigger, sport a blotchy horizontal stripe that parallels the lateral line, and have jaws that clearly extend behind the eye.
As a rule, bigmouths thrive in calm ponds, lakes and impoundments where they favor weedy flats, overhanging brush, blow downs, stump fields, submerged logs, docks and waterside decks. Expect them to cruise open flats in early spring, bury themselves deep in the weeds and shadows during the heat of summer, and to slide out toward deeper pockets and channel edges come the fall. Predatory by nature, they’ll strike a variety of baits and lures throughout the season, with several Panther Martin selections among their favorite patterns.
- Although they’ll feed throughout the entire day and after dark, largemouths especially favor the three hour periods after dawn and before dusk.
- Bigmouths love solid structure. While they’ll hold along any significant change in bottom contour, they prefer docks, decks, retaining walls, overhanging brush and trees, stump fields, etc. Lunkers find slowly decaying wooden structure to be particularly desirable.
- Largemouths love thick weed beds and lily patches located on expansive, shallow flats or in quiet coves positioned off the beaten track.
- Bigmouths often feed voraciously on a sharply dropping barometer and the bite can be especially sweet in the calm before a storm. Leave plenty of time to get off the water before foul weather arrives.
- The pre-spawn spring period is one of the best times for catching largemouth bass. Expect the bite to begin in earnest when water temperatures surpass 55 degrees.
- Take advantage of slow weed growth in early spring to use in-line spinners for probing productive flats and shallow coves that will require weedless lures as the season progresses.
- Most anglers release all the largemouths they catch. Crush down the barbs on any Panther Martin lure to make releases easier and more successful.
- When bucketmouths seem sluggish in cool or overly warm water, use a slow retrieve that barely keeps your spinner above the weeds and structure. Retrieve at a steady pace with only an occasional twitch or no twitches at all. Increase the speed of the retrieve and add in more line twitches as waters warm and bass become more aggressive.
- Delay your hook-set for a split-second when largemouths strike on or near the surface. This allows the fish time enough time to engulf your lure fully and turn away, providing a more solid hook-up.
- Cast parallel to structure and weedlines whenever possible. This will keep your lure in the strike zone longer than casting perpendicular to most bass habitats.
Catching Largemouth Bass
- When largemouths are in an aggressive mood, work a Panther Martin spinner quickly just below the surface to draw vicious hits. Adding twitches to the retrieve can trigger reaction strikes.
- When bucketmouths seem sluggish, use a slow retrieve that barely keeps your spinner above the weeds and structure. Retrieve at a steady pace with only an occasional twitch or no twitches at all.
- For spring fishing in clear water, size 4 and 6 Panther Martin spinners reign supreme. They’ll bring fast action with medium-sized fish and still turn the head of an occasional lunker.
- When early season waters are still cold, look for bigmouths to hold in deeper water just beyond a shallow flat. Work a Gold or Silver Panther Martin Classic Spinner in size 6 through these areas early or late in the day. Switch to a size 4 Gold Panther Martin Dressed spinner and work the flats once the sun gets high in the sky.
- Work Panther Martin spinners at a slow to medium rate for cool water action, speed up the retrieve as water temperatures increase.
- Bigmouths show a preference for certain color combinations during different seasons. Experiment with Panther Martin Spotted Red Yellow for spring, Yellow/Black for summer, and Yellow/Black during the fall.
- In murky or clouded water, try a size 6 or 9 Panther Martin FishSeeUV spinner in chartreuse/purple/pink, Deluxe Speckled spinner in orange/red, Classic Holographic spinner in tiger black, or a Hammered Spinner FishSeeUV in lime chartreuse.
- Copper blades work especially well for bigmouths in stained, tannic backwater coves. Try a size 6 Panther Martin Deluxe Dressed spinner in copper/orange, or a Panther Martin Classic Regular spinner in copper black.
- For waters that are especially cloudy or discolored by algae blooms try a size 4 through 6 Holy Hammered Spinner. The super reflective hammered blade and holographic patterns trigger reaction strikes even when fish have limited visibility. This is also a great choice when bass are simply feeding aggressively in spring and fall.
- Big bass like big lures. Try Panther Martin sizes 9 – 15 if seeking hawg bass in waters with significant trophy potential.
- Panther Martin Classic Holographic Superior Frogs are specially designed to present large profiles which can be worked slowly and deliberately through the thickest weeds. Use them to separate hawgs from heavy, sticky cover.
- For a buzzbait style approach to big bass, tip a gold, nickel or black nickel Panther Martin WeedWing with a strip of pork rind and churn it over the weeds for smashing surface strikes.
- When largemouth bass set their sights on large shad and other baitfish in open water a Panther Martin Classic Vivif Swimbait can bring jolting strikes.
- For lakes freshly stocked with small trout, Vivif Style Spinner Minnows in a rainbow trout pattern are an exceptionally good match.
- Depending on the potential size of the fish you seek 6 to 10-pound test lines match up well to the Panther Martin Spinners and Vivif Style Minnows most favored for bass. Use 12- to 17-pound test or heavier line in waters with a reputation for lunkers or when fishing around heavy structure and thick weeds with Panther Martin frogs or Weed Wings.
- For large bass on shallow flats with standing grass, stumps or stick-ups, WeedRunners are a great choice. Weedless, they present a long but thin profile lunkers can't resist. Try Gold White Ice in the spring, Gold Houdini in summer, and Silver Strawberry in fall. For deeper flats, retrieve a Gold New Penny at a slow to moderate pace.
- For an even larger profile and a more active trailer, work a Sonic SizzleTail. Use a Gold Chartreuse Silver Flake, Gold New Penny or Silver White Ice anyplace you might normally toss a standard spinnerbait. Buzz these just below the surface in spring and fall or slow roll and bump them agains deep structure in the heat of summer.
- For exciting surface strikes, retrieve a Bearded Banshee just fast enough to create a bulging v-shaped wake. Reel slower to probe deeper. Try dark colors on overcast days and light colors on bright days. Tip with a smaller trailer for added attraction.
Largemouth Bass Facts
- Largemouth bass are actually members of the sunfish family and count bluegill and pumpkinseed sunfish as cousins. They are also related to smallmouth bass, spotted bass and rock (red-eye) bass.
- Largemouth bass typically live 10 to 16 years depending on habitat and environment.
- Originally occurring primarily in the eastern U.S., northern Mexico and southern Canada, largemouths are found in every state in America as well as throughout Mexico, Central America and Japan. Stocking has sprinkled them across the globe.
- There are two strains of largemouth bass: the Florida largemouth and the northern largemouth. Florida strain bass tend to grow larger and more quickly, but the northern strain has a greater average lifespan.
- Largemouths typically spawn in water temperatures ranging from 63 to 71 degrees F.
- The apex predator in most freshwater lakes and ponds in which they live, largemouths can swallow prey that measure nearly half their total body length.
- Female bass are typically larger than the males.
- Bigmouths are America’s most popular game fish with an estimated 30 million anglers targeting them in US waters each year.
- Females grow older and larger than males. They can lay between 2,000-7,000 eggs per pound of body weight (over 50,000 eggs for an 8-lb. hawg!)
- Male bass use their fins and tail to clear out a circular spawning bed on the bottom. The males guard eggs after the female lays them while the female typically patrols nearby. The eggs hatch in 5 to 10 days.
- The largemouth bass is the official state fish for Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Florida and Tennessee.
- The IGFA All-Tackle World Record is currently tied between George W. Perry's 22 lb., 4.oz bass caught in 1932 and Manabu Kurita's 22-lb., 5-oz. bass caught in Japan in 2009.