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What Are Some Problems With Spotted Bass?

Spotted Bass Cause Problems


Mitch Morrison With Carters Lake Spotted Bass

Mitch caught this spot at Carters Lake.

2006 Mitch Morrison licensed to About.com
Spotted bass are fun to catch, but cause problems when introduced into lakes and other bodies of water where they are not native. There are three kinds of spotted bass, Kentucky or Northern Spots, Wichaita Spots and Alabama Spots, and they are different, mainly in the way they grow, but both cause problems.

Kentucky or Northern spots are native to the Mississippi River drainage from northern Tennessee, Kentucky and other nearby states. Alabama spots are native to north Alabama, mostly the Coosa and Tennessee River drainages. They have been introduced to other lakes as far away as California. The Wichita Spot is limited to the West Cache Creek in Oklahoma.

Kentucky spots average about one to one and a half pounds, with few fish over three pounds. Alabama spots get much bigger. In Lake Lanier, Georgia where they were introduced many years ago, seven pounders are caught each year and five pounders are common. The 10.4 pound world record spot caught in California in 2001 was an Alabama spot transplant.

Spots grow more slowly than largemouth and are much more aggressive. They out-compete largemouth since they are more aggressive, and since they tend to spawn deeper than largemouth are more likely to have successful spawns on lakes where the water level varies during spawning season.

I caught my first two eight pound largemouth in the 1970s at Lake Jackson, Georgia, and my biggest bass, a 9 pound, seven ounce largemouth, came from there in 1992.. All were caught in club tournaments. During the 1970s and 80s we consistently caught big largemouth from the lake. At one March tournament we had a 7.5, 7.71, 9.0 and 9.1 largemouth weighed in. We had many five, six and seven pound fish, with it being a rare tournament from November to March that did not produce at least one six pounder.

In 1992 the first spot any of us had ever seen from that lake was weighed in during one of my club tournaments. In the Georgia Bass Chapter Federation Creel Census Report from 1994, 99.52 percent of bass weighed in during club tournaments were largemouth. There were very few spots caught back then. By 2011 there were only 50.4 percent largemouth, and that number is probably skewed since spots tend to weigh less than largemouth so are culled first.

Although I caught an 8 pound, 13 ounce largemouth from Jackson three years ago in a January tournament, it was the first one over six pounds I had caught since 1992. We seldom see a six pounder there even though both my clubs fish it in December and again in either January or February. The big largemouth just seem to have become scarce.

We do catch a lot of bass there. In a January 2013 tournament I weighed in a limit of spots - five fish weighing 7.25 pounds total! Spots bite better in cold water and are not as affected by cold fronts, so we do get more bites. But the fish are much smaller. I say where an acre of water used to support 100 pounds of largemouth with half one pound but some four, five six pound and bigger bass, now there are 100 one pound spots per acre.

Spots were put in Jackson and many other Georgia lakes by "midnight stocking" by fishermen. In the long term, they hurt the fishing. Everyone thinks every lake is going to be like Lanier but Lanier is an exceptional case and it is unlikely any other lake will equal it.

Spots cause problems. Don't spread them.

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