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.
Table of Contents
- Fish Diet
- What Do Largemouth Bass Eat?
- Largemouth Bass Eat Crustaceans
- Largemouth Bass Eat Mammals
- Largemouth Bass Eat Amphibians
- Largemouth Bass Eat Mollusks
- Largemouth Bass Eat Worms
- Largemouth Bass Eat Smaller Fish
- Largemouth Bass Eat Fish Eggs
- Largemouth Bass Eat Terrestrials
- Largemouth Bass Eat Nymphs
- Largemouth Bass Eat Moss & Algae
- Largemouth Bass Eat Stones & Rocks
- Largemouth Bass Have a Seasonal Diet
- When Do Largemouth Bass Feed?
- A Largemouth Bass’s Diet Changes With Its Environment
- In Conclusion
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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!
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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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