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What’s on their menu and other info about bass

Posted: May 15th, 2013 by Bill Dance

What’s on the menu for small bass? Well, bass (even small ones) are predators that’s for sure. They like to eat live food (and that presents something of a dilemma for hatchery folks.) They start out feeding on zooplankton and then change to insects both aquatic and terrestrial, but when they reach the 2-inch size their diet consists mainly of small fish and minnows. After they reach 3 inches in length, they normally switch to small crawfish and grass shrimp. After they reach three inches in length, their eating habits change back to fish as the major item in their diet.

How much can a bass eat in one day’s time? During the warm water season, the total amount of food that a bass can consume in one day is limited by the size of its stomach and its rate of digestion. But experiments show that with an abundant supply of flavored food available–shiner, crawfish, shad–a bass could digest a maximum of 12 percent of its body weight per day.

Bass usually require at least 12 hours to digest their food under the best conditions? Since digestion is a chemical process, the rate of the process is a function of body temperature. Naturally, in winter digestion is slowest and in the summer it’s faster. Example: normally, when the water temperature ranges from 70-80 degrees, bass digest the food in their stomach in about 18 hours. But in the winter, the same bass True, there are many influences. But, since fish are cold blooded, temperature is the most important factor influencing the behavior of bass. Likewise, temperatures have a lot to do with judging the behavior of anglers. For example, how many of us simply won’t go fishing when it gets too hot or cold?

Also, bass may consume less than 1/10 of their summer rations yet still survive a long, cold winter because in their state of hibernation and low activity they use up very small amounts of energy.

Meanwhile, here are some other tidbits about bass.

Thick vs. Thin

Water is much denser is water than air, and is it actually denser when it’s cold? Water is actually 780 times denser than the air. The colder it becomes, the denser it becomes, especially down to 39 degrees where water is heaviest.

Speaking of weight, is a fish weightless in the water? No, they are not entirely weightless, but water does allow a sort of neutral buoyancy that allows an angler to use lightweight rods and line to lift a bass to the surface using lines with breaking strengths far below the actual weight of the fish in air.

Moving Water Means A Lot (to a fish)

Fish like moving water for two advantages it gives them: 1) It carries forage to them; and 2) it disorients their prey, making it much easier for them to feed

Home on the Range

The initial home range of bass was east of the Rocky Mountains from southern Ontario and Quebec, south through the Great Lakes system and Mississippi Valley to the Gulf Coast, from northeastern Mexico to Florida and then north on the Atlantic coastal plain to the Carolinas.

Of course, today they have moved. Thanks to anglers and biologists, bass have been introduced in many other areas including Europe and even Asia.

Largemouth bass were first brought to California in 1874 and introduced in the Napa River and Alameda Creek. They are now common throughout the Sacramento-San Joaquin systems at lower elevations, including many Central Valley reservoirs. They reach their greatest abundance in the warm water reservoirs of southern California.

Record-book bass are common now, in many places where they previously didn’t exist…especially those areas that give them the advantage of a longer growing season.

As always, catch one for me!

Bill Dance


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