PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Outdoors

August 29, 2012

CHESTER MOORE: Largemouth bass fascinate, baffle anglers

PORT ARTHUR —  

 

    By Chester Moore, Jr.

    Largemouth bass are the most popular sport fish in the country and Texas is in my ever so humble opinion the top bass state.

    California may have us beat a bit on size and Florida holds its own with overall strong fishery but no state has more quality fisheries and better management than the Lone Star State.

    I am semi-obsessed with huge bass and thought it would be fun this week to check out some fascinating and baffling facts about them.   

    Did you know the only thing stopping a bass from swallowing something is the distance it can open its mouth?

     Biologists call this the “gape width factor”.

    They eat baby ducks, snakes and there is even a YouTube clip of a bass engulfing a ground squirrel.

    Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) biologist Craig Bonds said as a graduate student, he conducted a study examining bass dietary habits using clear plastic tubes that could be inserted through the mouth, worked into the stomach and used to extract the contents without hurting the fish.

    “I found everything from snakes to small turtles, a baby duck and all kinds of fish from sunfish to other bass.”

    Plastic fishing lures were a common item and once he found a bunch of worms of the exact same color and length in one bass.

    “I don’t know if someone dropped over a whole bag of worms but this bass had a bunch of them in its stomach all the same color and size. They are opportunistic predators and that shows they will eat pretty much anything.”

    The University of Illinois (UI) conducted a fascinating study on largemouth bass that shows just how well adapted some bass are at avoiding fishing pressure.

    According to UI officials, the study began in 1975 with the resident population of bass in Ridge Lake, an experimental study lake in Fox Ridge State Park in Charleston.

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