Difference Between Florida Large mouth Bass and Northern Large mouth Bass
The black bass family is highly sought after in the game fish realm. Smallmouth, Spotted and Largemouth are all in that family. But what is the difference between the Northern Largemouth Bass that rarely reach 10 lbs. and their Southern cousins can exceed 20 lbs?
Northern largemouth bass range from New York to California. They are present in the southern United States but those tend to be cross bred with Southern or Florida Largemouth bass. The northern Largemouth bass is an ambush predator that prefers woody, rocky cover near drop offs to attack prey in open water. A big northern largemouth comes in at about 5-8 lbs. The northern largemouth bass can also survive in colder waters that occur during the harsh north winters. Northern Largemouth typically prefer cooler waters to their southern cousins, going deep and becoming less active in the late dog days of summer.
Southern Large Mouth
Southern Largemouth, or Florida largemouth can grow to be massive fish. With the world record coming in at 22 lbs. The southern Largemouth prefers shallow grassy lakes with dense weed cover for ambushing prey in their massive mouths. Southern largemouth bass grow at an exponential rate compared to the northern largemouth bass. Its roots in Florida, the southern largemouth, have been stocked around the U.S and the world. The Southern Largemouth is fairly intolerant to cold water, not surviving long.
The differences can be broken down into two parts, nature (genetics) and nurture (habitat). Do Florida largemouths get bigger because of genetics or because of the climate that they live in, well it is a little of both.
The biggest difference between the two basses is their genetics. It is suspected that the Florida Largemouth has a specific gene that allows for its rapid growth rate of at least one pound a year. They also behave slightly differently, however it is not known whether that is because of habitat or genetics.
Florida largemouths live where the water is constantly warm. Many fish have optimal growth temperatures, for bass that is 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. In the lakes and rivers that northern largemouth bass live in the temperature is usually only in that range for one or two months out of the year. Whereas for southern largemouth it can be above 70 degrees year round. Why does this matter? Fish are cold blooded animals. In the winter and colder waters largemouth bass do not put energy towards growth. This in itself gives the southern largemouth bass an advantage, it hardly ever has to deal with cold waters so all its extra energy and food can be used to grow year round.
In a combination with genetics and habitat, the southern largemouth bass is able to grow much larger than its northern cousin. It behaves differently and prefers a shallower weedy lake to the northern largemouth that prefers rockier, clearer and deeper waters.