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The largemouth bass closely resembles the smallmouth, but can be identified by a long upper jaw that extends well beyond the eye. The largemouth also has a wide black band running lengthwise down its side, and it is more of a dark green color than the smallmouth. The largemouth bass is the largest member of the sunfish family.
Largemouth bass prefer warm, shallow, well-vegetated areas of ponds, lakes, and sluggish streams. They are solitary fish, and tend to live around submerged cover such as stumps, logs, or dock pilings. To hunt, largemouths lie in wait in the cover of weeds, and ambush prey that swims by. While best known for eating other fish, a largemouth will eat crayfish, frogs, and small animals such as mice (though rare). Diets in Oneida Lake mainly consist of yellow perch and crayfish.
Like smallmouth bass, largemouth bass are late spring to midsummer spawners. Males build nests far apart from each other in shallow, weedy areas, and nests are less elaborate than those of the smallmouth. Females may carry up to 60,000 eggs, but commonly carry fewer than 10,000. Males guard the nest, and eggs hatch in 3-5 days. For the first week, the young cannot feed themselves and remain at the nest. After a month, they leave and feed on zooplankton. On Oneida Lake, near-shore vegetation, which provides valuable nursery areas for young largemouths, has spread, leading to increased lake populations.
Largemouth bass are a popular game fish with New York anglers, and, like the smallmouth, have been popular on Oneida Lake since the nineteenth century. Currently, there are many angling tournaments for both large and smallmouth bass on Oneida Lake. While they are not the spectacular fighters the smallmouth are, largemouth bass can be just as challenging and exciting to land because of the habitat they prefer. Due to introductions, largemouth bass can now be found throughout New York, and play an important role in fishery management.
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