Spotted Bass vs Largemouth Bass: What’s The Difference?


Spotted bass and largemouth bass have many similarities. For this reason many people ask about their differences. Let’s answer the question, what is the difference between spotted bass and largemouth bass?

Spotted bass (M. punctulatus) and largemouth bass (M.salmoides) are different species. Spotted bass have a milder taste compared to the stronger, fishier largemouth’s flavor. Largemouth’s texture is more watery than spotted bass. Largemouth requires more seasoning to lessen the fishy smell and flavor.

This article will compare their tastes, textures, cooking methods, costs, mercury levels and whether one can substitute for the other in recipes. In addition, I’ll do a side-by-side comparison of their habitats, size, weight and discuss their nutritional benefits.

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Spotted Bass vs Largemouth Bass: Habitats, Size, Weight, Appearance?

How can you tell the difference between a spotted bass and a largemouth bass?

The largest difference between spotted and largemouth bass is their dorsal fins and scales. Spotted bass have smaller scales on their head compared to the rest of the body. Largemouth bass have the same size scales everywhere. The spotted dorsal fins are unseparated compared to the separated appearance on the largemouth.

The largemouth bass has a larger mouth due to their upper jaw extending past the eyes. Largemouth bass are a little longer than the spotted bass and weigh more. The spotted bass tongue has a course rectangular tooth patch at the center while the largemouth’s tongue is smooth.

Scientific Classifications, Families, Species

Spotted bass are from:

  • Family: Centrarchidae
  • Genus: Micropterus
  • Species: M. punctulatus
  • Common nicknames: Spotty, spots.

Largemouth bass are from:

  • Family: Centrarchidae
  • Genus: Micropterus
  • Species: M. salmoides
  • Common nicknames: Green bass, bigmouth bass, largies, bucketmouth.

Habitats

Spotted Bass

  • Spotted bass are native to the Mississippi River and across the Gulf states from Texas to Florida. In addition, they are found in the western Mid-Atlantic states. They have been introduced to Virginia, North Carolina and southern Africa.
  • Spotted bass prefer warmer waters with strong currents and turbulence.
  • Spotted bass prefer clear, open waters.
  • Commonly found in reservoirs and streams.

Largemouth Bass

  • Largemouth bass are native to the eastern and central United States, southeastern Canada and northern Mexico. They have been introduced into many other areas as well.
  • Largemouth bass prefer warmer waters.
  • Prefer murky waters with vegetation.

Colors

  • Spotted bass have a greenish gray body. They have dark, black spots forming a jagged horizontal line down the body.
  • Largemouth have a greenish gray body. They have dark, black blotches forming less defined, jagged horizontal lines down the body.
picture of a spotted bass and a largemouth bass
Spotted bass and largemouth bass.

Appearance

Dorsal Fins

  • Spotted bass has two dorsal fins clearing connected to each other.
  • Largemouth have two dorsal fins with little to no separation. The first dorsal is shorter with spine rays. The second dorsal is taller with soft rays.

Mouth

  • The spotted bass jaw does not extend past the eye line. 
  • The largemouth bass upper jaw extends past the eye socket.

Scales

  • The scales on the spotted bass head are smaller than the ones on the remaining part of the body.
  • The scales on a largemouth bass are uniform across the body and head.

Tongue

  • The spotted bass tongue has a course rectangular tooth patch at the center.
  • The largemouth bass has a smooth tongue.

Size and Weight

How big does a spotted bass get? A spotted bass can grow up to 25 inches long and weigh up to 11 pounds. The average spotted bass is 8-15″ long and weighs 1-2 pounds.

How big does a largemouth bass get? Largemouth bass average 15 inches long and weigh up to 20 pounds.

Is largemouth bigger than spotted bass?

A largemouth bass is bigger than a spotted bass. The average largemouth bass is 15 inches long and the spotted bass 8-15″ long. A largemouth bass weighs up to 20 pounds. A spotted bass weighs 1-2 pounds.

Age

  • Spotted bass average lifespans is 7 years.
  • Largemouth bass average lifespans are 10-16 years.

Diet

Spotted bass consume the following:

  • Copepods
  • Crustaceans
  • Insects
  • Crayfish
  • Other smaller fish

Largemouth bass consume the following:

  • Crayfish
  • Fish
  • Frogs
  • Insects
  • Crustaceans

The spotted bass is less predatory than the largemouth bass. The spotted bass consumes about half the fish as a largemouth. All bass feed by opening their mouths creating a negative pressure sucking in their prey.

Find out how trout compared to bass in my recent article, Trout vs Bass – What’s The Difference? Let’s Compare.

Spotted Bass and Largemouth Bass: Tastes and Textures

One of the most important things people takes into consideration when choosing a fish is its taste. When comparing the two fish, does spotted bass taste better than largemouth bass?

Spotted bass taste better due to their more mild to sweet, cleaner flavor. Largemouth bass taste fishier making spotted bass more desirable for people who don’t like a fishy flavor.

What does spotted bass taste like? Spotted bass has a mild to sweet taste. Spotted bass is only slightly fishy but not enough to turn people away who don’t prefer a fishy taste. It’s much less fishier than a largemouth bass. The flesh is white and has a firm texture.

What does largemouth bass taste like? Largemouth bass has a strong flavor and is fishy. Largemouth has white flesh which can be watery but is firm and meaty.

How about smallmouth bass compared to largemouth bass? Find out in my recent article, Smallmouth Bass vs Largemouth Bass: What’s The Difference? 

Spotted Bass and Largemouth Bass Substitutions

When preparing recipes for dinner it’s not always possible to locate the type of fish called for. If you have some spotted bass, you may ask, can I substitute spotted bass for largemouth bass?

Spotted bass can substitute for largemouth bass due to their similar firm textures although largemouth’s flavor is stronger. They both have a firm enough texture allowing similar cooking methods when substituting. Spotted and largemouth bass can be grilled, baked, broiled, fried or sautéed. 

Largemouth bass substitutes include the following:

  • Salmon
  • Bluefish
  • Tuna
  • Black Sea bass
  • Mahi Mahi
  • Walleye

The best spotted bass substitutes are:

  • Halibut
  • Grouper
  • Snapper
  • Freshwater trout
  • Lake herring
  • Mackerel

When substituting spotted or largemouth bass always stick to the following:

  • Same size and weight.
  • Stick with similar fillets, whole fillet or cross section.
  • Stick with skinless or skin when the recipe calls for one.
  • Texture is more important for certain cooking methods. Like using a firmer texture when grilling 1.

How To Cook Spotted Bass

Spotted bass doesn’t have the same fishiness and smell that a largemouth contains. For this reason spotted bass doesn’t have to be seasoned as much to cover up the fishy smell and flavor.

Spotted bass can be pan fried, broiled, grilled, baked and sautéed.

Spotted bass flavor parings:

  • Garlic
  • Lemon
  • Dill
  • Mustard
  • Black pepper
  • Parsley
  • Olive oil

How To Cook Largemouth Bass

Frying largemouth bass indoors can create a fishy smell which many people dislike. By adding many of the spices below can help lessen the fishy smell or taste. In addition, removing the skin and bloodline before cooking will help with the fishy taste.

Largemouth can be baked, broiled, deep fried, grilled and sautéed.

Largemouth flavor pairings:

  • Garlic
  • Paprika
  • Black pepper
  • Lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Dill
  • Mustard

Spotted Bass and Largemouth Bass Nutrients

Both spotted and largemouth bass provide a wide variety of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Below is the nutrients contained in 4 ounces of freshwater bass.

Nutrient Freshwater bass
(4 ounces, raw)
Calories 129
Fat 4.2 g
Saturated fat 0.9 g
Cholesterol 77 mg
Protein 21 g
Omega-3 0.77 g
B-6 0.1 mg
B-12 2.2 mcg
Thiamin .08 mg
Riboflavin .08 mg
B-5 0.8 mg
Niacin 1.4 mg
Folate 17.0 mcg
Iron 1.6 mg
Potassium 403 mg
Magnesium 34 mg
Phosphorus 226 mg
Calcium 90.7 mg
Zinc 0.7 mg
Selenium 14.2 mcg

Nutrient Resources 2 3

Largemouth and spotted bass provide a high percentage of omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins and minerals. These nutrients are beneficial for maintaining health which you can read about in the next section of this article.

It’s difficult to duplicate the nutritional value of most fish. Even chicken breast can’t fully equal the benefits due to its lack of omega-3 fatty acids most fish provide.

If you’re wondering how white bass compared to striped bass check out my article, White Bass vs Striped Bass: The Key Differences.

Spotted Bass and Largemouth Bass Benefits

Since both fish provide the same nutrients the benefits of both are similar. I’ll list each nutrient and explain how each one benefits you starting with omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

There is 0.77 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per four ounces of raw freshwater bass. Omega-3 fatty acids help maintain artery health which helps keep the heart healthy.

The omega-3 fatty acids provided by spotted and largemouth bass help with the following health benefits:

  • Reduce inflammation.
  • Lower triglycerides.
  • Reduce plaque build-up.
  • Helps keep bad cholesterol low and increase good cholesterol.
  • Helps maintain normal heart rhythms.

B Vitamins

The B vitamins in the table include B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B9 (folate) B6, B12 and B5. B vitamins help support the following:

  • Energy levels.
  • Red blood cells.
  • Cardiovascular disease.
  • Digestion.
  • Nerve function.
  • Brain function.

Magnesium

There are 34 mg of magnesium per four ounces provided by freshwater bass. Magnesium calms and relaxes the whole body including blood vessels. Magnesium has been shown to help improve sleep related problems like insomnia 4.

Magnesium helps keep blood pressure levels balanced and stable. A recent study researched 22 studies and concluded magnesium supplementation decreased diastolic and systolic blood pressure 5.

Magnesium in bass helps control muscle and nerve function, blood sugar and blood pressure. In the muscles and heart, magnesium competes with calcium to help the muscles relax after contracting.

When the body is low in magnesium, calcium can over stimulate the heart muscle’s cells causing a rapid or irregular heartbeat.

Selenium

There are 14.2 mcg of selenium per four ounces of freshwater bass. Selenium is a nutrient which doesn’t receive much press. I’m unsure why many don’t write about it more because studies 6 show selenium may help to protect the following:

  • Heart disease
  • Thyroid
  • The immune system
  • Cognitive issues

Potassium

There are 403 mg per four ounces of raw freshwater bass. Potassium helps the body get rid of excess sodium which helps reduce fluid build-up. This helps keep systolic and diastolic blood pressure lower 7.

The more potassium you consume, the more sodium your body will lose. Consuming too much sodium or not enough potassium throws off the delicate balance the kidneys need to remove the excess water 8.

According to Harvard Health, a number of studies have shown a connection between low potassium levels and increased blood pressure 9.

Phosphorus

There are 226 mg of phosphorus per four ounces of raw freshwater bass. It has been shown in scientific research to help with the following:

  • Muscle recovery after exercise.
  • Muscle contraction.
  • Help the body store and manage energy.
  • Help the kidneys remove waste.
  • Promote healthy nerve conduction.
  • Promote teeth and bone strength.

I did a side-by-side nutrient and benefit comparison between sea bass and cod. Find out which was better in my article, Sea Bass vs Cod – Is One Better? Let’s Compare.

Spotted Bass and Largemouth Bass Mercury Levels

The EPA and The Food and Drug Administration have issued warnings and suggestions regarding mercury levels in fish and how often they should be consumed 10. This is especially important for young infants, developing children and pregnant women.

They established a list of best fish, good choices and ones to avoid based on their mercury levels. Therefore, does spotted bass or largemouth bass have more mercury?

Spotted and largemouth bass have similar levels of mercury. They have both been listed on some states advisory warnings in regards to high levels of mercury. Typically, the recommendation is to consume these fish only once per week total for all fish considered higher in mercury. 

Everyone, especially if you’re pregnant, breast feeding or have a young child, always check with a physician prior to eating new foods or changing your dietary habits.

These mercury warnings can change over time or affect only a particular area or state. Please check with your local EPA and FDA for the current recommendations 11.

Species Resources 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Read Next – More Fish vs Fish Articles!

Sea Bass vs Cod – Is One Better? Let’s Compare

White Perch vs White Bass: Which Is Better?

Sea Bass vs Salmon: Which Is Better?

Farm Raised or Wild Caught Shrimp – Which Is Best?

Farm-Raised Vs Wild Caught Scallops: Which Seafood Is Best?

Anchovies vs Sardines – What’s The Difference? Let’s Compare

 

Article Resources: Foods For Anti-Aging follows strict guidelines to ensure our content is the highest journalistic standard. It's our mission to provide the reader with accurate, honest and unbiased guidance. Our content relies on medical associations, research institutions, government agencies and study resources. Learn more by reading our editorial policy.
  1. Sea Grant North Carolina: Fish Flavors and Substitutions[]
  2. Nutrition Value: Fish, raw, mixed species, fresh water, bass[]
  3. NutritionData: Fish, bass, fresh water, mixed species, raw[]
  4. National Institutes of Health: Magnesium[]
  5. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis[]
  6. National Institutes of Health: Selenium[]
  7. American Heart Association: How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure[]
  8. National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Effect of the Sodium to Potassium Ratio on Hypertension Prevalence: A Propensity Score Matching Approach[]
  9. Harvard Health: Potassium lowers blood pressure[]
  10. FDA: Advice about Eating Fish[]
  11. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Mercury accumulation in largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) in a Florida lake[]
  12. Wikipedia: Largemouth bass[]
  13. Wikipedia: Bass (fish) []
  14. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Largemouth bass[]
  15. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission: Spotted Bass[]
  16. Wikipedia: Spotted bass[]
  17. UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment: Spotted Bass[]
  18. Texas Parks and Wildlife: Spotted Bass (Micropterus punctulatus) []

Kevin Garce

Kevin Garce is a Certified Health Coach who encourages people by informing them on nutrition and food topics important to them. His years of research and knowledge inspire people to achieve their goals. Read more here About Me

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