Can Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass Breed? Meanmouth Engaged

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A guy sets free a big bass after catching it while fishing.

Largemouth and smallmouth bass do breed. For it to happen naturally, both species need various factors to align. Since they spawn in different areas, they rarely interact during the process. But they can overlap if largemouth bass spawn in deeper areas and smallmouth move up shallow.

Largemouth and smallmouth bass live unique and different lives. This is mainly due to hunting habits, habitat needs, and spawning habits. Both fish are top predators in freshwater lakes, rivers, and streams. Sometimes, they mate and create a smallmouth bass hybrid.

Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass Hybrid

A largemouth and smallmouth hybrid is called a meanmouth. Dr. William Childers coined the term in the 1960s when he and his colleagues from the Illinois History Survey completed a study on hybrids within the centrarchid family.

They crossed largemouth with smallmouth to see what would happen. 

They found that the centrarchid family had several hybrid species, but none compared to the smallmouth and largemouth hybrid. According to Dr. Childers, the meanmouth attacked a swimmer and a dog that entered shallow water.

The hybrid species combines the most aggressive features of smallmouth and largemouth bass. The meanmouth doesn’t sit in weeds or cover, waiting for its prey to swim past them. It’s willing to sit in open water and hunt for whatever it wants.

Plus, meanmouth bass swim in schools and hunt in more significant numbers. They’re lethal predators and don’t back down from any meal, no matter the challenge it presents.

Dr. Childers paused the study because the meanmouth bass grew too fast and died easily. Plus, the reproductive rates were lower than they expected.

The only change that made the process healthier was fertilizing largemouth eggs with smallmouth sperm. The aggressive tendencies of the males helped them find their way when introduced into new waters.

When the process happens naturally, bass adapt, and populations across the United States survive. 

Whether smallmouth populations were introduced into the water to mate with largemouth or they both live in the same waters, the fish make it work. 

A fisherman catches a big bass by lily pads using a frog lure.

Meanmouth Bass

Meanmouth bass have populations in the southern United States. In 2022, a diehard angler caught an 11-pound meanmouth in Texas. A year earlier, an angler landed an eight-pound meanmouth. 

Meanmouth bass prove to be a challenge to find in other places. Few bodies of water have predictable locations where meanmouth bass live. 

To find them, anglers must work to find sections of lakes and rivers where largemouth and smallmouth could live together. 

Where to Find Meanmouth Bass

There needs to be a combination of structure, open water, and drop-offs for meanmouth bass to be happy. The largemouth DNA in the meanmouth needs a place to use its ambush skills. 

The smallmouth DNA in the meanmouth needs the open water to swim in schools and the extra depth to cover more ground. 

When in doubt, look for meanmouth in areas with structure and cover. Even though meanmouth are aggressive, they still need traditional hiding spots. 

The more features you can find to appease both species’ DNA, the better chance you’ll find a meanmouth. 

Through many bass fishing excursions in Texas, I’ve landed two meanmouth bass. Both lived up to the hype. Even though they were only two or three pounds, they smashed my lures and gave some of the toughest fights I’ve had with bass. 

Now, every chance I get to go after meanmouth, I take it. I struggle to get those fights out of my head.

Gear to Use for Meanmouth Bass

You can use the same gear you would use to target largemouth and smallmouth. Drop shots, finesse rigs, Whopper Ploppers, crankbaits, and spinnerbaits work well for catching meanmouth bass. 

Here's an image of a tiny bass fish!

Largemouth and Smallmouth Spawn

Largemouth bass and smallmouth bass don’t change their ways during the spawn. They’ve relied on the same environmental factors forever to know when to start the spawn. 

Once it’s started, fish follow their instincts and see the spawn all the way through. 

Now, those instincts are what create meanmouth bass. During the spawn, male smallmouth bass are very aggressive. They start mating and don’t let females go until they mate. 

So, if smallmouth set their eyes on a female, they’ll pursue them until the mating process occurs. It only takes one male smallmouth and one female largemouth to spawn for thousands of meanmouth bass eggs to hatch. 

Largemouth and smallmouth bass can’t help but interact if the spawning areas are small. 

Reservoirs and smaller lakes often have populations of meanmouths because smallmouth and largemouth can’t stay away from one another. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is There a Hybrid Largemouth Bass? 

Yes, there are hybrid largemouth bass. Northern and Florida largemouth bass crossbreed populations are booming all over the south. Usually, hybrid largemouth bass grow and become extremely desirable targets for anglers worldwide. 

How Rare Are Meanmouth Bass? 

Meanmouth bass are quite rare. If anything, smallmouth and spotted bass mate the most out of the bass species. Since largemouth and smallmouth are so territorial, they rarely interact and breed. 

Catching a meanmouth bass isn’t something that happens to anglers all the time. 

Do Smallmouth and Largemouth Spawn at the Same Time?

Smallmouth and largemouth spawn at different times, depending on where you’re fishing. But both fish always spawn in the spring. 

If anything, smallmouth spawn earlier than largemouth, but they’re never far apart. If smallmouth and largemouth didn’t spawn at the same time, meanmouth bass would never exist.


Meanmouth bass are one of the most interesting bass species in the world. They combine the best features of largemouth and smallmouth into one.

They grow to the size of largemouth bass and take the awesome habits of smallmouth. Meanmouth bass are legendary fish that make fishing for bass that much better.

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