Summary: Factors that Create Big Bass
Dr. Mike S. Allen
When you think about big bass, you probably think about California, Florida, Texas, and
the famous lakes that produce really big fish. These waters produce giant bass because
they have a combination of good habitat, high food supply, and Florida bass genes that
combine to produce really big fish. Those are the famous lakes, but they are not
necessarily the topic of this article.
For the lakes in your region, what is the biggest bass that occur? An extraordinary bass
might be a three pound smallmouth in far northern waters, or a six pound largemouth in
regions where very few fish exceed three pounds. Let's discuss some hypotheses
regarding how these largest fish occur, and what it might mean for trying to catch them.
Hypothesis #1: Some fish get an advantage very early in life. Extensive work on juvenile
largemouth bass has shown that the early life stage is a critical time that can strongly
affect a fish's growth rate and maximum size. Juvenile largemouth bass that hatch early
in the spring season are at risk, but they also have the most to gain (no pun intended).
Early-hatched fish (the first fish spawned in a season) are susceptible to late cold fronts
and therefore can experience drops in water temperatures, which can cause high mortality
due to slow growth and predation. Conversely, early hatched fish are larger than their
later-hatched brothers and sisters, giving them a size advantage because they can
consume a wider range of prey items. If conditions are right for these early hatched fish