The newly hatched largemouth bass feed heavily on tiny crustaceans and other
zooplankton until the bass reach 2 inches in length. Then their appetite changes to
insects and smaller fish. The adult bass's diet consists mainly of fish, but crayfish,
worms, frogs, and insects are important foods in some waters.
The bass ranks very highly in the aquatic food chain. A bass 10 inches or longer has very
few enemies and will eat almost anything it can swallow. Because of the bass's large
mouth and flexible stomach it can eat prey nearly half its own length.
They usually grab large prey, then turn the food to swallow it headfirst. So if your using
large shiners, frogs, or salamanders you should give the fish ample time before setting
the hook. But if your using small bait or small lures you need to set the hook immediately
upon the strike, since the bass inhales its smaller food by opening its mouth quickly,
sucking water (and the bait) into its mouth. It then expels the water through its gills and at
the same instant decides whether it will swallow or expel the food. They can expel the bait
just as fast as they inhaled it.
As the water temperature warms up, the metabolism of the bass increases and they feed
more often. They seldom eat at water temperatures below 50 degrees F. From 50 - 68
degrees, their feeding increases and from 68 - 80 degrees they feed heavily. But when the
water temperature rises above 80 degrees their feeding declines.
Bass growth depends highly on the length of the "growing" season and their water
conditions. They tend to grow much faster in southern lakes than in the colder waters of
the northern areas, but they usually don't live quite as long as their northern counterparts.
In the warmer waters of the South a largemouth may reach 10 years while in the colder
waters of the North they may live as long as 15 years. The female bass usually lives
longer than the male.