Striped Bass vs. Largemouth Bass: Saltwater vs. Freshwater Bass

Last update:
Striped Bass: A group of fish

Even though largemouth bass and stripers are part of different families, they have some similarities. Both fish are carnivorous, aggressive, and eager to hunt. While largemouths sit in cover and use ambush methods to hunt, striped bass go into open water and hunt for their prey. 

Aggression and bass go hand-in-hand. Anglers who have spent time targeting striped bass and largemouth bass understand that both fish are top predators willing to feast on any vulnerable prey. 


Largemouth and striped bass are different in appearance because they come from different families. Largemouth belong to the Centrarchidae (sunfish) family, while striped bass belong to the actual “bass” family. They’re more bass than largemouth bass.

Largemouth Bass

Largemouth bass have green and yellow bodies with white bellies. Their football-shaped body has led to nicknames like “butterballs.” The black stripe along the middle of their bodies is a dead giveaway of largemouth bass. 

Largemouths’ bodies look like rock bass and smallmouth bass. Their most unique feature is their massive mouths. 

Largemouths’ mouths extend behind their eyes, and their bottom lip sticks out past their upper lip. The size of their mouths allows them to swallow their prey whole. 

An average largemouth bass is three to four pounds. They can grow above ten pounds, depending on where you’re fishing.

Striped Bass

Striped bass that live in saltwater grow to an average of 24 to 36 inches. They weigh at least ten pounds but can grow upwards of 60 pounds. Striped bass have a long body with black stripes running horizontally along it. 

They have olive-colored bodies with hints of blue, black, and brown. Like largemouth bass, they have a white stomach. 

The tail fin is dark, and the dorsal fins are white and olive. 

Freshwater striped bass don’t grow nearly as large as their anadromous relatives, but they have the same physical characteristics. The horizontal stripes and a long body make for easy identification when you land one. 


Largemouth bass and striped bass have similar diets. They’re carnivorous and eat small fish, crustaceans, amphibians, and small mammals. 

Since largemouth bass have larger mouths, they can swallow prey whole. Largemouth bass eat fish half their body length. If it looks like a delicious and easy meal, largemouth bass pounce on the opportunity to eat. 

Anadromous striped bass live in saltwater and eat things like shrimp, squid, mussels, and anchovies. Largemouth bass living in brackish water have a similar diet. 

If the meal looks delicious and easy enough to catch, largemouth and striped bass go after it. They have large appetites and an eagerness to feed. 

Largemouth bass fish has hook in its mouth.

Hunting Habits

Freshwater striped bass operate similarly to largemouth bass. When alone, freshwater striped bass use ambush hunting strategies to find their food. They’ll sit in structure and cover, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike.

Striped bass swim in schools, so hunting in larger groups is more common. Striped bass find safety in numbers. They don’t have to be as aggressive with their feeding habits when they’re with other striped bass.

Largemouths tend to be more aggressive than freshwater striped bass. They operate as lone rangers. Largemouths can’t depend on other largemouths to help them find food. Largemouths use their ambush habits and skills to pick and choose their feeding times. 

Largemouths sit in rocks, weed lines, underwater logs, and other areas that can provide protection. They wait in anticipation for food to swim by and then pounce. Largemouths have little fear of anything in the water, so they don’t say no to any meal that looks tasty. 

Anadromous striped bass have more aggressive tendencies than their freshwater relatives. Since they can grow to a few feet long and upwards of 50 pounds, they have the freedom to be more aggressive.

Even in the ocean, they don’t shy away from anything besides sharks and other large fish. They’ll spend time in the open water searching for smaller food options. Like their freshwater counterparts, they’ll swim in schools. Strength in numbers is a real thing in the open ocean.

Fisherman shows big bass by a forest lake with trees.


Striped bass and largemouth have native regions in the United States. They’re adaptable fish, and they can survive in various circumstances. State game and fish departments have introduced them to bodies of water throughout the United States. 

I’ve caught striped bass in California and Texas as well as on the East Coast. I’ve caught largemouth bass in 20 different states across the country. Largemouth bass live everywhere. I love having the chance to catch them whenever I possibly can.

Largemouth Bass

Largemouth’s native range extends from the Great Lakes Region into Mexico. The Mississippi River basin has large populations of largemouth bass. Local game and fish departments have introduced largemouth bass into many areas of the United States. 

Nearly every state in the country has a largemouth bass population somewhere within it. They can adapt to freezing temperatures as well as hotter weather. But if the water gets above 80 degrees, largemouths slow down and can die.

Striped Bass

The Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries are the native waters for striped bass. In the spring, they’ll move into freshwater to spawn and return to the ocean once the spawn is complete. 

Freshwater striped bass live in almost every state along the East Coast and certain states in the South and Midwest. They need cooler water to survive. Wherever they live, striped bass need a place to escape if the temperatures get warmer. 


Striped and largemouth bass need cover, structure, and suitable water temperatures. They’re adaptable fish, but consistency is what helps them thrive. 

Largemouth Bass

Largemouth bass enjoy warm, clean water with plenty of structure and cover. Weeds, rock piles, and woody areas allow largemouth bass to use their ambush skills when hunting. 

Largemouths can also live in icy waters. Growing up in the North, we’d catch largemouth bass through the ice all winter. Largemouths slow down and conserve energy in the winter but do not die because of the cold temperatures.

Largemouths can even survive in brackish water. As long as the salinity levels sit low enough, largemouth bass live in a mix of salt and freshwater. Their bodies tell them when to move towards freshwater areas if saltwater dehydrates them. 

Largemouths need to feel protected. If they’re too exposed in open water, they will not thrive. Regardless of how easy food is to find and capture, they prefer using their ambush skills.

Striped Bass

Striped bass swim in schools and tend to spend time near cover. They also operate in areas where the depth of the water changes. Because they spend time in schools, they’ll go wherever there’s enough room and food to survive.

They trust their large numbers to keep them protected from predators.


Striped bass and largemouth bass are different fish in many ways. They share aggressive tendencies but look and operate differently than one another. Each fish is a blast to target and catch because they offer such special things to anglers.

Danny Mooers Avatar


Leave a Comment