Welcome to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Black Bass Slam! This exciting challenge allows anglers to test their fishing abilities by catching all four species of black bass in South Carolina. Our state boasts four exciting bass: the largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, redeye bass, and spotted bass. Each species has unique characteristics that differentiate them from their fellow fish. In this series, we will be working through each species exploring how to identify them, prime habitats and locations, and angling tips to help you complete the slam. For more information concerning the rules of the Black Bass Slam, please visit our website at https://www.dnr.sc.gov/aquaticed/bassslam.
Identifying the Largemouth Bass
Arguably the most popular freshwater gamefish in the United States, and certainly in South Carolina, the Largemouth Bass holds the unique privilege of being found from the mountains to the coast. More money is spent in pursuit of this gamefish than any other in the state. Largemouth are native to South Carolina, and they grow quickly in our warm climate. Average length ranges from 4-25 inches and average weight is 1-3 pounds. However, 8 pound individuals are not uncommon.
Several physical characteristics can help you identify the Largemouth Bass. Given the name, this bass has the largest mouth of the four bass. The upper jaw will extend past the rear margin of the eye when closed. The upper body is dark green to olive and fades to white towards the bottom of the belly. The lateral line is a series of blotches that merge into a dark band. Typically, the largemouth does not have a toothy patch on the tongue. While certain individual specimens can vary in appearance, these are great guidelines to help you identify on the water.
Locating the Largemouth Bass
The largemouth can be found across the state in a variety of waters. They inhabit all major lakes in the state as well as slow moving rivers and creeks from the Savannah to the Wateree and beyond. When targeting these fish in moving water, aim for slow back eddies and pools. They prefer not to work too hard in faster currents. In lakes and ponds, aim for structure that largemouth enjoy using to protect them from predators. Fallen trees, rocks and shoals, docks, and even bridges offer great locations to find largemouth bass. This bass is plentiful in most waterways, so find your closest pond or river and start casting.
The Tackle Box
Finding the largemouth is the easy part. Catching them is never a guarantee, however a wide array of tackle can be employed to catch this bass. The most traditional method is the timeless bobber rig using live bait such as worms or crickets. An equally successful tactic is to pick up a spinning rod or baitcaster and tie on any number of lures from crankbaits and soft plastics to jigs and spinnerbaits. The largemouth bass is the top predator in most of the ecosystems in which it is found, so they will eat just about any bait. Great imitations include baitfish patterns, crawfish, aquatic insects, and even lizards.
If you would like to try completing the slam using a fly rod, the largemouth bass is a great place to start. You will need a 5 weight to 8 weight fly rod, floating fly line, and a 3X to 1X leader. Successful fly patterns include subsurface streamers like the clouser minnow or wooly bugger. Fishing does not get more enjoyable than catching a big largemouth on topwater using a popper fly or frog fly!
Ranger Will’s Field Recommendations
“Given the widespread range of largemouth bass locations, there are plenty of public access points to knock this bass off your slam list. I recommend any of the South Carolina State Parks and SCDNR State Lakes. In terms of major reservoirs, Lake Hartwell is hard to beat. There is a reason Bassmaster continually returns there to host the Classic! Spring, Summer, and Fall offer the most enjoyable experiences out on the water and the largemouth really heat up at dawn and dusk. Check out the links below for public access!”
SCDNR State Lakes
SC State Parks Fishing
For more information on the Largemouth Bass and other South Carolina fishes, please see our Guide to Freshwater Fishes located in PDF format. A hardcopy version is available by request by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed on South Carolina Wild are solely those of the authors, and do not reflect official policies, positions, or endorsements of activity or products by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.