Sunday Quiz

The Sunday Quiz – Southern Quiz

Angler’s Club Magazine presents

The Southern Quiz

By Ben Team

This week’s topic: Bass Identification

Each Sunday, we will bring you a series of questions to test your knowledge of the fish and some of the strategies used to snatch them. Each week will feature a different theme (be sure to let us know how you scored and what you’d like us to cover in the comment section below or on social media).

  1. Which of the following bass is most likely to have a tooth patch present on its tongue?
    1. Northern largemouth bass
    2. Florida largemouth bass
    3. Spotted bass
    4. Shoal bass
  2. Which of the following black bass species do not have scales overlapping the bottom of the second (rear) dorsal fins?
    1. Florida largemouth bass
    2. Shoal bass
    3. Kentucky spotted bass
    4. Alabama spotted bass
  3. Which of the following methods will not help you distinguish a spotted bass from a largemouth bass?
    1. Jaw size
    2. Details of the dorsal fins
    3. Eye color
    4. Presence or absence of teeth on the tongue
  4. While fishing in northern Florida, you catch several 10- to 12-inch-long bass that have distinctive blotches near the base of their tails. Some of the bass also feature turquoise markings on their cheeks. What type of bass have you likely caught?
    1. Warrior bass
    2. Suwanee bass
    3. Alabama bass
    4. Guadalupe bass
  5. One way to distinguish northern largemouth bass from Florida largemouth bass is to count the number of scales that lie along the lateral line. Which of the following scale counts suggests that a bass is a Florida largemouth?
    1. 72
    2. 66
    3. 59
    4. 60
  6. While fishing in southern Alabama, you catch a fish that looks like a spotted bass. You count 76 scales along the fish’s lateral line. What species have you caught?
    1. Alabama (spotted) bass
    2. Spotted bass
    3. Warrior bass
    4. Smallmouth bass
  7. Which of the following characteristics is least helpful for making a positive identification of a black bass?
    1. Tongue patch
    2. Geography
    3. Scale counts
    4. Color





Answers (no cheating!)

  1. Spotted bass (Micropterus punctulatus) usually – but not always – have a rough patch of tooth-like structures on the top of their tongues. However, tooth patches can occasionally be found on the tongues of other bass species. Accordingly, while a tooth patch is helpful for distinguishing spotted bass from, say, largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), it is not an infallible criteria.
  2. Both largemouth bass species (or subspecies, depending on the authority consulted) lack scales at the base of their second dorsal fin. Most other members of the black bass genus (Micropterus) have scales that encroach onto the base of the second dorsal fin.
  3. While details of the jaw, dorsal fins and tongue can help you distinguish spotted bass from largemouth bass, eye color is not a helpful diagnostic criteria.
  4. The Suwanee bass is the only species of the four commonly found in the waters of north Florida. Additionally, Suwanee bass reach a maximum of about 12 inches in length, and sometimes feature turquoise markings.
  5. While scale counts are not always accurate, and they are especially problematic with specimens of mixed ancestry, most Florida largemouth bass (Micropterus floridanus) have between 69 and 73 scales along their lateral lines.
  6. While spotted bass and Alabama (spotted) bass (Micropterus henshalli) look similar, they are not closely related and have different scale counts. Most such fish with more than 72 scales are actually Alabama bass. Neither smallmouth nor Guadalupe bass are found in southern Alabama.
  7. While different bass species often exhibit different typical coloration (e.g. smallmouth bass tend toward bronze and brown hues, while largemouth bass often feature green), color can vary from population to population as well as from fish to fish. Additionally, the color of a given fish may change with varying environmental conditions. Tongue patch, geography and scale counts are not perfect criteria, but they (especially when considered together) offer anglers the best strategy for identifying caught bass.


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