For a fish that can reach 29.5 inches long and break the records, the largemouth bass has a relatively short lifespan by fish standards. In the wild, the fish will not waste time to reach maturity and start spawning in a race against time. But in captivity, it tends to slow things down and takes double the time before it can spawn.
The average lifespan of the largemouth bass is 15 years. However, not all adult fish will reach that ripe old age. Many will fall prey to predators and despite the high intelligence of the bass, it will sometimes make the wrong move and end up as dinner to a yellow perch or the American eel.
But with its predatory behavior and its annual migrations, the life of the largemouth bass is anything but boring. Even if it only lives for a few years, those years are usually full of hunting, exploring, and spawning. Read on to find out more about the exciting life of the largemouth bass.
Many factors impact the lifespan of the largemouth bass. One of those is the average water temperature throughout the year. In the north for example where the water remains cool all year round, the bass can live up to 15 years on average. That’s due to the high levels of oxygen in the shallow waters where food is abundant.
In the southern parts of the country where the summers are hot, the average age that the bass can reach is around 11 years. One of the reasons behind that is the proliferation of the natural enemies of the bass in warm waters. They prey on the young bass before it matures. Add to that other factors such as the presence or lack thereof of vegetation, the water pressure, and the depth of the body of water.
Also read: Where does the Largemouth live?
Many anglers ask this question often. Some would try to snap a picture of the largemouth bass quickly then release it back in the water. Others take their time and assume the fish will swim back no matter how long it’s deprived of oxygen lying on the deck.
Recent studies point out that the largemouth bass can live up to 10 to 15 minutes out of the water without any visible side effects on the fish after it was released back. But you should take this number with a grain of salt. It doesn’t take into account the size, health, or age of the bass. If the bass is exhausted, say after finishing spawning, it won’t have the stamina to last that long out of the water. So if you want to release the bass back, try to do so as soon as possible for the sake of the fish’s health and wellbeing.
Related article: How to hold a largemouth bass without hurting it
How much do Largemouth Bass Grow Annually?
That’s a loaded question and there’s no simple answer to it. We could say that the largemouth bass averages a pound of weight gain every year. But that assumes that the fish is living in the right conditions with high levels of oxygen, plenty of food, and absence of predators.
There’s a reason the bass prefers to lurk under the cover of fallen trees and bridge abutments. They protect the largemouth bass against its many predators. When the fish is hiding from a predator or on the run, it doesn’t have much time to hunt and feed.
This is why the fish in the warm waters in the south grow faster and gain more weight than their counterparts in the north. Another important distinction has to do with the type of food the bass eats. Those that feed on shad will grow faster than the bass that subsists mainly on bluegill all year round.
When all things are equal and the largemouth bass is having the time of its life, you can expect it to grow up to 8 inches in the first year alone. Many of the natural bass predators will prey on the young bass rather than the mature one. So the bass will do its best to grow fast and mature quickly to increase the chances of its survival.
Within the second year of its life, the adult largemouth bass will grow 4 inches. The chances of it facing a formidable enemy that attacks it grow slimmer as the bass grows bulkier. So the growth rate slows down as the fish ages.
By the third year, the bass will average 15 inches long. This translates roughly to about 1.83 pounds in weight. From then on, the bass will grow less in length and more in weight.