Christopher Smith

What’s A Meanmouth Bass? Inquiring Minds Want To Know

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Clayton King, mean mouth bassHey there everything smallmouth bass fans!I recently received a question about a fish that looked like a cross between a largemouth bass and a smallmouth bass. Sure enough, the reader had caught a little known bass that you may have never heard of before called the meanmouth bass.

You may be thinking, “that’s a made up fish, I never heard of that!” The truth is the mean mouth bass is a hybrid between either a largemouth bass in a smallmouth bass or spotted bass and a smallmouth bass.

Hybrid is the breeding of two closely related species producing a cross between the two parents. This can produce some interesting combinations. The offspring are not likely to reproduce well but they can compete against native species.

The meanmouth got its name as described in this quote from In Fisherman:

The term “meanmouth bass” was born when Childers observed a school of largemouth-smallmouths attacking a female swimmer. “The bass leaped from the water and struck her on the head and chest,” he wrote, “and drove her from the pond.” On another occasion, he watched meanmouths attack a dog that ventured into shallow water.

In nearly all cases of hybridization outside the lab, smallmouth have been involved. Geneticist Dr. Dave Philipp, colleague of the late Dr. Childers, noted that fertilization of largemouth bass eggs with smallmouth sperm resulted in more successful crosses than the reciprocal cross (largemouth male and female smallie). The aggressive male smallmouth bass may be an instigator when introduced into waters outside its natural range where spawning sites are limited, or in altered habitats such as reservoirs.  Source

Recently, smallies seem to be hybridizing more commonly with spotted bass in the midwestern states, leading to some concerns about their effect on smallmouth and spotted bass populations.

In Tennessee, smallies have been hybridizing with Red Eye bass and in Texas, they have been found to mix with some of the Florida strain on Largemouth bass.

If you have caught a meanmouth, please post a picture here or leave a comment below! We’d love to hear from you.

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6 Responses to What’s A Meanmouth Bass? Inquiring Minds Want To Know

  1. RonT August 20, 2013 at 11:45 am

    We catch these hybrids all the time in Pittsburgh at the point.

    • Christopher Smith August 25, 2013 at 4:12 am

      RonT Thanks for you reply!

  2. Joseph Dial Jr. August 22, 2013 at 11:52 am

    These are indeed hybrids, however it is impossible for them to reproduce meanmouths on there own. Its like a mule cannot reproduce more mules. The only way to get more mules is to breed a donkey and a horse. Mules are sterile. Meanmouths are sterile.

    • Christopher Smith August 25, 2013 at 4:11 am

      Thanks for your input Joseph! You’re right, another good example are Tiger Muskys and Wipers (striper/white bass).

  3. Joseph Dial Jr. August 25, 2013 at 10:41 am

    You know Christopher, I am amazed at how awesom God is. How he created these species to reproduce with each other to carry on with there own species, however made it possible for it not to get out of hand the wrong way. Such as the meanmouth,
    and the Tiger Muskies, etc. Man has an uncanny ability to mess up everything he touches. By us being finite, and not knowing all, makes me appreciate the more, God being infinite
    and knowing what would happen down the road if this or that would happen. But man still tries to play the creator, doesn’t he? Have a wonderful day my friend, smallmouth55

  4. John Bowlin July 8, 2015 at 10:05 pm

    My sons and I love catching smallmouth bass. When I caught this mean mouth I wasn’t for sure what it was. My son Caleb shouted “that’s a mean mouth”. My son Jacob took the pic. Absolutely great day on the creek!


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