The smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) is a species of freshwater fish in the sunfish family (Centrarchidae) of the order Perciformes. It is the type species of its genus. One of the black basses, it is a popular game fish sought by anglers throughout the temperate zones of North America, and has been spread by stock to many cool-water tributaries and lakes in the United States and Canada. The smallmouth bass is native to the upper and middle Mississippi River basin, the Saint Lawrence River–Great Lakes system, and up into the Hudson Bay basin. Its common names include Smallmouth, Bronzeback, Brown Bass, Brownie, Smallie, Bronze Bass, and Bare back Bass".
The smallmouth bass is generally brown (seldom yellow) with red eyes,and dark brown vertical bands, rather than a horizontal band along the side. There are 13-15 soft rays in the dorsal fin. The upper jaw of smallmouth bass extends to the middle of the eye.
Males are generally smaller than females. The males tend to range around two pounds while females can range from three to six pounds. Their average sizes can differ, depending on where they are found; those found in American waters tend to be larger due to the longer summers, which allow them to eat and grow for a longer period of time.
Their habitat plays a significant role in their color, weight, and shape. River water smallmouth that live among dark water tend to be rather torpedo shaped and very dark brown in order to be more efficient for feeding. Lakeside smallmouth bass however, that live for example in sandy areas, tend to be a light yellow brown to adapt to the environment in a defensive state and are more oval shaped.
M. dolomieu is found in clearer water than the largemouth, especially streams, rivers, and the rocky areas and stumps and also sandy bottoms of lakes and reservoirs. The smallmouth prefers cooler water temperatures than its cousin the largemouth bass, and may be found in both still and moving water. Because it is intolerant of pollution, the smallmouth bass is a good natural indicator of a healthy environment, though it can better adjust to changes in water condition than most trout species. Carnivorous, its diet comprises crayfish, insects, and smaller fish, the young also feeding on zooplankton.
The female can lay up to 21,100 eggs, which are guarded by the male in his nest.
In the United States, smallmouth bass first moved outside their native range upon construction of the Erie Canal in 1825, extending the fish's range into central New York state. During the mid-to-late 19th century, smallmouth were transplanted via the nation's rail system to lakes and rivers throughout the northern and western United States, as far as California. Shippers found that smallmouth bass were a hardy species that could be transported in buckets or barrels via the railroad, sometimes using the spigot from the railroad water tank to aerate the fingerlings. They were introduced east of the Appalachians just before the Civil War, and afterwards transplanted to the states of New England.
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