What Do Largemouth Bass Eat?

Read this article if you're interested in learning about the feeding habits and preferences of Largemouth Bass.

What do largemouth bass eat in their day-to-day lives? Largemouth bass have a varied diet consisting of everything from insects like nymphs, beetles and grasshoppers to fish eggs, leeches, mollusks, crustaceans and even larger prey like mice and other fish.

While largemouth bass are surprisingly selective eaters during different seasons and at certain times of the day, they also tend to be very opportunistic and will gorge themselves when the getting is good.

Don’t miss our Complete Guide to Fly Fishing for Bass.

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What Do Largemouth Bass Eat?

Largemouth bass are primarily carnivores. They want to eat any sort of meaty prey that swims throughout the lake, river, pond or stream that they’re inhabiting.

What Do Largemouth Bass Eat

Other food that interests them are insects and even some aquatic plant life. They’re not overly picky eaters, but they do have their preferences.

Largemouth Bass Eat Crustaceans

Crustaceans are found in almost every single body of water in the world. They’re some of the heartiest creatures you can find, so they thrive in all sorts of different environments.

A freshwater shrimp in a white background

Shrimp

Freshwater shrimp live in a variety of water conditions, but it generally needs to be clean.

While they don’t grow as large as saltwater shrimp, they still do the job. Bass find the colonies of these and feast on them.

Use the Avalon Shrimp when fishing for bass!

huge crayfish on a white background

Crayfish

Crayfish live on the bottom of the water column, and that’s where bass spend quite a bit of time feeding. You can find them crawling over rocks, logs and just about everything else.

One move is more than enough for bass to capture and eat them.

A small scud is a great largemouth bass food on a white background

Scuds

There are thousands of different scud species that live in fresh water. They’re almost too easy of a meal, but they’re considered to be an old reliable for bass. The exterior shells aren’t too hard, so bass can eat them.

The Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear is simple and effective.

If you want to learn how to fly fish using scud flies, read on.

Largemouth Bass Eat Mammals

Bass don’t always get many chances to eat mammals, so they’re sure to take advantage of the opportunity when it comes. They’re too appetizing and hearty for them to pass up.

a mice as fishing bait

Mouse

Mice can be found in the water near dusk. Whether they’re climbing on reeds and fall in the water or slip off of a dock, the splash is exactly what largemouth bass want to hear.

They’re always appetizing.

A close up picture of a baby tortoise as fishing bait

Tortoise

Small turtles are good for largemouth bass. The hard, exterior shell can be a challenge for them to eat, but a recently hatched turtle is just right.

They can swallow it, and the softer shell is easer for them to break down.

Largemouth Bass Eat Amphibians

Bass and amphibians go hand-in-hand. Amphibians are the perfect animals for bass to ambush. Amphibians often swim on the surface of the water and are unable to see an approaching largemouth!

Largemouth Bass Eat frog
A frog on a white background

Frog

Frogs are found near shore in heavily vegetated areas. A swimming frog is the perfect meal for largemouth bass. The legs and meaty bodies have everything they want.

Whether they’re sitting in lily pads or swimming under water, a frog in the water near bass won’t last long.

The popper fly is a good choice.

orange spotted Salamander on a white background

Salamander

When salamanders find their way into the water, they know not to go near areas with heavy cover.

Bass live here and make a quick meal of a visiting salamander.

Largemouth Bass Eat Mollusks

Largemouth bass have an easier time catching mollusks. Because they can’t easily flee, largemouth bass instinctively eat them anytime they come across them.

They’re almost always an easy meal. Look for them in the shallows.

snail on a white background

Snail

Snails are another favorite for largemouth bass! They live in rocky and muddy areas.

Bass explore these areas all the time and are known to scoop up snails.

mussel on white background

Mussels

Sadly, mussels have taken over many freshwater lakes and streams.

They can cause all sorts of damage to fresh water, but they can be thanked for the continued growth of largemouth bass.

Mussels can’t escape bass, and bass are able to break down the shells to get the meat from mussels.

They’re a good choice for bass. They attach themselves to jetties, buoys, rocks and almost everything else.

Largemouth Bass Eat Worms

Worms are a treat for bass! While they’re more effective with panfish, they do entice bass too. All different types of worms will work.

As long as it looks and smells natural, they’ll eat it.

A close up picture of an earthworm as fishing bait

Earthworm

Earthworms are often found in the water after a heavy rain. They move to the surface as more rain falls, and they’ll get swept up in any runoff streams and float into lakes and rivers.

Bass wait near these runoff points waiting to see what sort of food awaits them.

A close up picture of a leech as fishing bait on a white background

Leech

Leeches live in the water, and they’re often found in somewhat large colonies. Largemouth bass know where these are and feast on them whenever they get the chance.

They’re always guaranteed to be a hearty meal.

Largemouth Bass Eat Smaller Fish

Smaller fish are likely the most popular food for largemouth bass. They’re fairly easy targets and provide some of the most nutrition that bass can find in their habitat.

Largemouth bass jump and fight lures.
A close up picture of a minnows as fishing bait on a white background

Same Species Minnows

Smaller largemouth bass minnows will never be avoided. Largemouth are known to eat other largemouth that are nearly half of their size, so a few small, largemouth minnows are nothing to them.

They know where to find them and always take advantage.

A close up picture of a minnow as fishing bait on a white background

Other Minnows

Other minnows like shad, sunfish, crappie and shiners are all priorities for largemouth bass! They do their best to seek these out as much as they can.

Since they swim in pools, largemouth bass can get a full meal with minimal effort.

The Clouser Minnow is an easy choice.

Largemouth Bass Eat Fish Eggs

Fish eggs are always going to be a food that bass eat! There are likely thousands of eggs in a single area, and the time of year they’re available is always predictable. Bass know when it’s spawning season, so they make sure to target fish eggs as much as they can.

Smallmouth Bass Eggs

When it comes time for smallmouth to spawn and lay eggs, largemouth are all over them. The smallmouth spawn typically lasts from April to July, so largemouth are just coming off their own spawn and they’re looking to eat.

Largemouth Bass Eggs

Largies are also known to eat the eggs of other largemouth bass when given the chance. It’s not always a common occurrence since many bass are protecting their own eggs, but it does happen.

Largemouth Bass Eat Terrestrials

Terrestrial insects are the overall favorites of largemouth bass. They’re the largest of the insects that they’ll find, so they know terrestrials will fill them up when they’re given the chance to eat.

Plus, in terms of the challenge to hunt, they’re near the bottom of the list! In a pinch, a terrestrial works great.

A close up picture of a grasshopper as fishing bait on a white background

Grasshoppers

Grasshoppers find their way onto bass waters in the late summer. Come July, the grass begins to die and grasshopper populations boom. A grassy bank or farm field near water will be a hot spot for grasshoppers.

A windy day will blow dozens of hoppers on to the surface of the water. They’re easy meals!

The GFA Hopper is a perfect representation.

A close up picture of a beetle as fishing bait on a white background

Beetles

Beetles find their way onto the surface of the water all spring and summer. Beetles aren’t great fliers, and they live in all areas. They tunnel underground, burrow themselves in wood and even live in dead animals.

If it’s especially windy, the beetles are very susceptible. Bass wait anxiously for beetles on those warm summer days.

A close up picture of an ants as fishing bait on white background

Ants

Flying ants are another one of those cheap meals that bass always know they can get. Ants build homes in trees and all sorts of areas underground. A strong rain can wash an entire ant colony into the water.

If bass see them floating by, they’ll take a strong swipe and scoop up as many ants as they can into their mouths.

The Chernobyl Ant is a high-quality fly option.

A close up picture of a mayflies as fishing bait on white background

Mayflies

Mayflies are always near water. Since their entire life cycle occurs near water, bass can always count on them for food. They’ll eat them as nymphs, and they’re especially appetizing when they first become adults.

As the adults are drying their wings, largemouth bass will pick them off by the dozen.

The CDC Mayfly Emerger is an accurate representation.

A close up picture of a caddisflies as fishing bait on white background

Caddisflies

Caddis patterns aren’t always as common in bass waters, but any part of the water with overhanging trees is likely a hotbed for insects of all kinds, including caddis. They’re fairly large and a great meal for bass.

They hatch primarily during the spring, summer and fall during the mornings and evenings.

Try the Elk Hair Caddis when fishing for bass.

A close up picture of a moths as fishing bait on white background

Moths

A warm summer night is when the moths are out in full force! Dock lights are home to hundreds of them on a nightly basis. Although moths usually make their homes in trees, it’s not uncommon for them to make homes in boathouses too.

Bass can get up shallow at night and take their pick of as many as they want.

Midges

Midges hatch year-round. This is rare for insects! If bass are ever short on a meal, they can count on all of the midges hatching throughout every month. They’re rarely filling, but they do the trick in a pinch.

The Zebra Midge fly works very well!

A close up cicada on white background

Cicada

Large cicada hatches happen every few years. If you spend time fishing near overhanging trees and hear a high pitched buzzing sound, you know cicadas are in the area.

Cicadas are massive insects that almost every single fish loves to eat.

A close up of a dragonfly on white background

Dragonfly

Dragonflies spend most of their time living in shallow fresh water. Often, the areas where they live have no fish, but it’s not uncommon for them to stop and recharge in a lake or stream that holds bass.

If bass see dragonflies circling, they get ready to eat.

Your first choice for a dragonfly pattern should be a Damselfly Larva.

A close up of a stoneflies on white background

Stonefly

Stoneflies are common for bass to eat in the summers. In the western United States and upper Midwest, stoneflies are common. They’re extremely large and don’t ever stray too far from the water.

They’re often in the shallow and slow moving areas.

Largemouth Bass Eat Nymphs

Since bass primarily feed under the surface of the water, they spend quite a bit of time feeding on nymphs. As the nymphs bounce around or attach themselves to rocks at the bottom of the water column, bass will swing by and pick them off throughout the day.

Caddis Nymph Fly

Caddis Nymph

Caddis nymphs aren’t very large, but they’re plentiful. To bass, they look like little worms, so they appear to be an easy meal.

Dozens of little worms crawling along logs and rocks are too easy of a meal for them to pass up.

Black Midge Fly Pattern

Midge Nymph

Midge nymphs are small, wormlike insects that float through the water in rivers and crawl along the bottom in still water. Since they’re so small, largemouth bass don’t always go out of their way to eat them.

However, they do make for an easy and appetizing meal if bass can get enough of them.

Oliver Edwards Mohican Mayfly Fly Pattern

Mayfly Nymph

Mayfly nymphs are a little larger than midge and caddis nymphs.

Their soft bodies and lack of wings make them an easy target for bass cruising along in the shallows.

If they’re looking down, it won’t take them long to find a large colony of mayflies!

The WD-40 pattern is easy and quick.

Larson’s Legend Golden Stone Dry fly

Stonefly Nymph

Stoneflies are on the larger side in terms of nymphs. They can grow upwards of 1.5 inches long! They crawl along in the shallows as they try to exit the water and fully turn into adults.

Few fish would reject a stonefly nymph. The legs and large bodies are just too appetizing.

The Tunghead Stonefly is the ideal stonefly nymph.

Dragonfly Nymph Fly Pattern

Dragonfly Nymph

Dragonfly nymphs are also large! They hatch in fresh water, so bass get a chance to eat them at all times during their life cycle.

Dragonfly nymphs can always be counted on as an easy meal.

Don’t miss our Guide to the Top Largemouth Bass Fly Fishing Patterns you need to start using.

Largemouth Bass Eat Moss & Algae

Algae is always a part of a bass’s diet! Even when the food is plentiful, bass will eat aquatic plant life. It’s easy and appetizing for the fish. If bass are lying in wait near moss and algae, they’ll eat it until something larger comes along.

Yes, they’re primarily carnivores, but they won’t shy away from an easy meal.

Largemouth Bass Eat Stones & Rocks

Stones and rocks become a part of a largemouth bass diet when they’re feeding near the bottom. Often, nymphs, crustaceans and mollusks live on stones and rocks, so bass pick them up accidentally when they’re feeding on them. It’s not something that they purposefully eat, but it does happen on occasion!

Largemouth Bass Have a Seasonal Diet

Largemouth bass feeding habits are largely dictated by the weather. They have certain water temperatures they need for spawning, and their entire lives revolve around the spawn.

Largemouth Bass Eat small minnow

Pay close attention to the water temperatures in your local body of water if you’re fishing for bass! These will dictate all the behaviors of the fish.

What Do Largemouth Bass Eat in Winter?

In the winter, you’ll find largemouth bass laying low and beginning to prepare for the spawn. The water temperatures in the winter are likely below 50 degrees, so the bass aren’t overly eager to eat.

Their metabolism is fairly slow, but they’ll take an easy meal when they can get them. Easy things to catch like crustaceans, insects, mussels and small baitfish make up most of their diet.

What Do Largemouth Bass Eat in Early Spring?

In early spring, bass are either in pre-spawn or in the midst of the spawn. Pre-spawn bass are aggressive and getting their beds ready. They’re still eating a bit, but not very often!

As soon as the spawn hits, they’re in full mating and protecting mode. Anything they’re eating, they’re doing it out of aggression!

What Do Largemouth Bass Eat in Summer?

In the summer, largemouth bass feeding habits are back to normal. They sit in their typical ambush points and will eat everything mentioned in the lists above. Mammals, mollusks, worms, smaller fish and insects are all things that they’ll eat.

They’ll sit in places like fallen logs, muddy water, and weed lines waiting for something to swim near.

Post-spawn, the bass are eager to eat everything they possibly can! Plus, as the temperatures warm, they become less aggressive in an effort to not exhaust themselves and wait for the water temperatures to cool.

What Do Largemouth Bass Eat in Early Fall?

In early fall, the bass will continue to feed as they prepare for winter. The water temperatures are likely still warm in the early fall, so they may not be as aggressive as in the early summer, but they’re still taking advantage of all of the active prey.

Crustaceans, mammals, smaller fish, mollusks and insects are all still in peak season, so bass have a vast array of things to eat. It’s still all systems go in early fall.

What Do Largemouth Bass Eat in Fall?

In fall, largemouth bass ramp up their feeding! Fish are great at sensing seasonal change. When the seasons are getting ready to change, they go on a feeding spree. As other fish spawn, the bass take advantage of their eggs. While they’re shallow, they’re eating mollusks and crustaceans.

Everything is a little more active in the fall because they know that winter is coming. As the temperatures begin to drop, bass fill themselves to fatten up for winter. As soon as ice covers lakes and water temperatures get into the 40s and low 50s, their metabolisms slow way down.

When Do Largemouth Bass Feed?

Bass can be temperamental feeders. They’re picky about water temperature and how they feed. Stick to the beginnings and the ends of the day. Morning and night are by far the most productive times to catch largemouth feeding.

A largemouth bass swimming in a lake.

As long as you can identify their primary feeding times, then you’re going to land them!

What Do Largemouth Bass Eat at Dawn?

At dawn, largemouth bass have an easier time feeding. They want big meals! They’re willing to put in effort to chase and hunt down their prey. Larger panfish, frogs, birds and all types of crustaceans are on the table.

The temperatures are cool, everything is fairly active, and they want food that’ll sustain them throughout the rest of the day.

What Do Largemouth Bass Eat at Midday?

At midday, you can assume the bass are deep and hiding in cool water digesting their food. Wherever they can find cover, they’ll take it. If an easy meal passes in front of their face, they’ll eat, but this isn’t always the case.

Things like minnows, crustaceans and midges are generally the most common options. These all live at the bottom of the water column.

What Do Largemouth Bass Eat at Sunset?

At sunset, largemouth bass are back and ready to feed. All of the things that were on the menu at sunrise are back as a top priority. Panfish, crustaceans, minnows, insects, small birds and mammals are their favorite choices.

They have the energy to hunt and chase down food when given the chance. They want their meat!

What Do Largemouth Bass Eat at Dusk?

At dusk, you’ll see largemouth bass feeding begin slowing down. However, some of the big largemouth bass make their way out to feed! They’ll eat anything from bass that are half their size to a mouse that’s swimming near the surface. The largest bass like having the cover of darkness to help them when they’re hunting.

What Do Largemouth Bass Eat at Night?

At night, largemouth bass feeding habits vary. Generally, they’ve calmed down and are spending the dark hours digesting their food. However, since their prey isn’t as cautious at night, they can score some easy meals.

Mammals, crustaceans, small fish and even insects can end up in a bass’s stomach. Bass enjoy feeding on the surface at night, so it’s not uncommon to hear them popping at things on the top of the water.

A Largemouth Bass’s Diet Changes With Its Environment

Depending on where a largemouth bass lives, they’ll eat different things. Like most animals, largemouth adapt to the food options that live in their habitat. Generally, rivers have more to eat than lakes due to the moving water and variety of animals that live near them.

What Do Largemouth Bass Eat in Lakes?

Unlike smallmouth bass, largemouth like to hide in murky areas in heavy cover. This gives them peace of mind that they’ll stay safe from any larger predators, and it also gives them a great opportunity to ambush any smaller fish or other meat that looks appetizing.

The most common targets for largemouth bass in lakes are often leeches, crayfish and smaller fish.

Largemouth Bass Eat crayfish

Smaller fish like minnows, panfish, smaller largemouth bass and shad are their top priorities. If you see a school of small fish, you can almost guarantee that a largemouth bass or two are nearby waiting for their chance to pounce and fill their stomachs.

What Do Largemouth Bass Eat in Rivers?

In moving water, largemouth bass stay away from the fast moving water. They sit in the eddies, pools and cut banks waiting for food to pass. If they can find a tree or weeds to hide in while they’re waiting, that’s even better. In rivers, they feed on small baitfish, amphibians, mollusks and worms.

Moving water provides the fish with a constant source of food, so their diet is more widely varied in rivers! Whether it’s rainy or windy, new foods are constantly washing into them.

What Do Largemouth Bass Eat in Ponds?

Ponds can offer minimal food, so bass don’t have the privilege of being picky. Often, insects are a massive part of a largemouth’s food source in ponds. They’ll also find themselves eating smaller bass, leeches and any crustaceans that happen to be living in the ponds. They’ll take whatever they can get!

What Do Largemouth Bass Eat in Small Creeks?

Like ponds, small creeks don’t always have a ton of food. They’ll have decent options, but insects and smaller fish are usually what the largemouth bass will eat. If they’re lucky, a population of crustaceans will live in the creek! Again, moving water always carries food, and small creeks can be home to a nice variation.

In Conclusion

Largemouth bass are the sneakiest and stealthiest hunters in the bass family. They aren’t picky with what they want to eat, and they have the hunting skills to kill anything that looks appetizing.

With their large mouths and bodies, they’re often one of the apex predators in the water. When the opportunity arises for them to feed, you can guarantee they won’t waste it!

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Disclaimer: IntoFlyFishing.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please see our Privacy Page for more information.

My name is Danny Mooers and I’ve been fly fishing for five years. As soon as I went to college, I dove headfirst into my obsession for fly angling. Every spare weekend or long break was dedicated to finding fish. I’ve fished all over North America in search of trout, salmon, steelhead and everything in between. I currently write articles for Guide Recommended and Reel Adventure Fishing. Fly angling is one of the most challenging yet rewarding hobbies any person can have. Don’t be afraid to give it a try.  It’s an addicting activity that tests everything from your fine motor skills to your patience, but it’s well worth your time.

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