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

Clayton King, mean mouth bass

Hey 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 meanmouth bass is a hybrid between either a largemouth bass and 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.

Where Did The Name Come From?

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.

How Do You Recognize One?

Spotting a Meanmouth can be a tad tricky since they’ve got attributes from both their parent species. These bad boys have coloration and markings that lean more towards the Smallmouth side but might showcase some distinct features from the Spotted Bass lineage. Look for a body color that’s a mix of bronze and green with a sprinkling of spots. They might just fool you at first glance, but that’s half the fun, ain’t it?

Where Can You Find Them?

Now, you won’t find a Meanmouth Bass in just any freshwater haunt. These hybrids tend to favor clear to slightly stained waters. You can often find them in areas where both parent species coexist. Rivers, reservoirs, and lakes in the central and southeastern parts of the United States are your best bet.

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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