Fish identification can be difficult at best and depending on the fish it can be downright problematic.
This identification problem is especially true when you take into consideration all of the hybrids you find while fishing. Therefore, we will concentrate on non-hybrid species for the purpose of our little study here.
You can use these handy tips to help you identify your bass on your next fishing trip.
The largemouth bass is also called Florida bass, green bass, northern largemouth and oswego bass. These fish can be easily distinguished due to the upper jaw extending beyond its eye.
Also there is an obvious deep notch separating the first and second dorsal fin.
Another readily identifiable marking is the solid dark horizontal band that runs the entire length of its body. It is usually dark green in color along its back.
Spotted (Kentucky) Bass
The spotted bass looks like a cross between a largemouth and a smallmouth bass. It has a band along its flank much like the largemouth, but its jaw doesn't extend as far.
Its belly is generally white with dark spots, thus its name, and the upper body if greenish with dark markings. They can have a stripe along the body, but it is not as consistent as a largemouth.
Smallmouths are normally bronze or brownish green. They have dark vertical stripes which help to identify them easily. Also, the jaw doesn't extend as far as its largemouth cousin.
Similar to the Kentucky bass, a smallmouth will tend to fight underwater before breeching.
Rock Bass (aka. Red Eye bass)
Rock bass tend to live in schools near other sunfish species and rarely weigh over one pound. They are considerably smaller than a smallmouth bass and do not exhibit the same vertical stripes.
However, they do tend to have rows of dark dots on their sides. These are not true red eye, but in many parts of their home range it is a common name.
Striped bass have very distinct striped running the length of their bodies with most going all the way to the tail. They tend to have a relatively cylindrical body.
The white bass is a close cousin to the striped bass above. However, they have a less streamlined body and their stripes are usually faint and irregular. Imagine a football-shaped fish and that's pretty much a white bass.
Keep these identifying marks in mind when out on the water. Also remember, these marks are not exhaustive so be sure to do your own research.
Most fish and wildlife agencies do a good job with providing identification charts and posters to fish in your area.