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.

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

How can you tell the difference between the two fish?

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.

Additional differences:

  • 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 species are from:

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


Spotted Bass

  • 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.
  • They prefer warmer waters with strong currents and turbulence.
  • Spotted bass will usually be found in clear water.
  • While fishing they are commonly found in reservoirs and streams.

Largemouth Bass

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


  • Spotted bass feature a darker green coloration pattern and have a greenish gray body. They have dark, black spots forming a jagged horizontal line down the body.
  • Largemouth tend to have a greenish gray body. They have dark, black blotches forming less defined, jagged horizontal lines down the body.


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.


  • The spotted bass jaw does not extend past the eye line.
  • The largemouth bass is larger in the size of their jawlines. The upper jaw extends past the eye socket.


  • 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.


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

Size and Weight

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.


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


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 tend to feed by opening their mouths creating a negative pressure sucking in their prey.

Fishing Tips For Bass Fishing

Some Fishing Tips

Bass fishing requires dedication, perseverance and of course some luck. Largemouth are most anglers target when fishing.

River fishing for smallies can result in a good fishing day. Spotted bass are more aggressive. Spots are faster swimmers and fight a long time. For fishing tackle use the same size bass lures and plastics as largies.

In New York, you can go bass fishing June to November with a 12″ minimum and a daily limit of 5. From December to June, bass fishing is catch and release only. Check your local State for rules and regulations and look out for the game warden.

All about bass fishing.

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 in the store or while fishing is its taste. When comparing the two fish, spotted bass vs largemouth bass, let’s examine how their tastes compare.

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.

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. The flesh is white and has a firm texture.

Largemouth bass has a strong flavor and is fishy. They have a white flesh which can be watery but is firm and meaty.

I did some original research on taste by polling my readers, clients and members of food groups. I asked which one tastes better?

  • 67% said they preferred spotted.
  • 33% said they preferred largemouth.

To conduct more original research on taste, I set up a blind taste test at home. Both fish were cooked and prepared the same way. Three out of four people chose the spotted.

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

How to cook largemouth bass.


When preparing recipes for dinner it’s not always possible to locate the type of fish in the market or while fishing. If you have only one bass species, you may wonder if you can substitute one for the other.

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. Both bass can be grilled, baked, broiled, fried or sautéed. 

Largemouth bass and their substitutes:

  • 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 either 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 grilling1.
Largemouth bass.
Largemouth bass

Spotted Bass and Largemouth Bass Nutrition

Both of them 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 Resources23

Both 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 Health 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 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.
Omega-3 sources.
Omega 3 sources

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.


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 ((National Institutes of Health: Magnesium)).

Magnesium helps keep blood pressure levels balanced and stable. A recent study researched 22 studies and concluded magnesium supplementation decreased diastolic and systolic blood pressure4.

Magnesium 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.


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 studies5 show selenium may help to protect the following:

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


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 ((American Heart Association: How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure)).

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 water6.

According to Harvard Health, a number of studies have shown a connection between low potassium levels and increased blood pressure7.


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.

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 consumed8. 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, let’s take a close look at the mercury levels in each bass.

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. 

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 especially if you’re fishing9.

As a Certified Health Coach, many of my clients inquire about seafood. In addition to coaching clients about spotted and largemouth bass, I’ve purchased, researched and consumed both fish for over 20 years.

If you have any questions about this article or other featured content, don’t hesitate to email and notify us. You can find an email on our contact page. We’ll do our best to reply as soon as possible.

Can a largemouth bass breed with a spotted bass?

In waters where both largemouth and spotted bass exist, both species will breed with each other. This results in a hybrid between the two species of fish.

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

  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 Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis []
  5. National Institutes of Health: Selenium []
  6. National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Effect of the Sodium to Potassium Ratio on Hypertension Prevalence: A Propensity Score Matching Approach []
  7. Harvard Health: Potassium lowers blood pressure []
  8. FDA: Advice about Eating Fish []
  9. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Mercury accumulation in largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) in a Florida lake []

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