Freshwater Fish - Species

Spotted bass - Click to enlarge photo

Species Specific Regulations

Spotted bass

Freshwater Fishing License required.

Complete fishing regulations

Guide to Freshwater Fishes

Guide to Freshwater Fishes
(Adobe PDF - 3MB)

Spotted bass (Micropterus punctulatus)

Description: (Anatomy of a Fish)
The spotted bass has a gold-green body with dark olive mottling that fades to a yellow-white belly. It has small black spots below a dark band along the middle of its side with a distinct black spot on the body right before the tail or caudal fin. The spotted bass’ large mouth extends to the rear edge of the eye, but not beyond. Spotted bass have teeth on their tongue.

Upper Savannah River drainage, primarily lakes Keowee, Russell, Jocassee and Hartwell; also introduced into tributaries of the Enoree, Saluda and Savannah rivers and in the Catawba River reservoirs upstream of the state line.

Average Length: 11.8-24 inches

Average Size: 1-3 pounds

South Carolina State Record: 8-pounds, 5-ounces (2001)

Life Expectancy: Approximately 5 years

Preferred Habitat

The spotted bass is found in medium to large cool and warm mountain streams and reservoirs. It adapts well and outcompetes other black basses such as the largemouth or smallmouth as it is more tolerant of excess sediment.

Food Habits

  • Major foods for spotted bass are crayfish, aquatic insects and fish such as shad. Spotted bass eat fewer fish than other blackbass species.


  • Spotted bass reach sexual maturity at age 2 or 3 and begin spawning activity in April and May when water temperatures reach 65°F.
  • Males construct shallow saucer-shaped nests on soft, clay bottoms or on gravel bars.
  • The female will lay 3,000 to 30,000 eggs.
  • The male guards the nest with eggs hatching in 4 or 5 days.


Spotted bass are not native and readily hybridize with other black bass species such as the redeye bass.

Commonly Mistaken Species

Some species of fish that are commonly mistaken for this species:

Literature Cited

Rohde, Fred C, Arndt, Rudolf G., Foltz, Jeffery W., Quattro, Joseph M. 2009. Freshwater Fishes of South Carolina. University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, South Carolina.

Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division. 2009. South Carolina Guide to Freshwater Fishes.

Fish Illustration by Duane Raver.