Will Largemouth Bass Eat Bullheads? Perfect Population Control

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Dark Bullhead fish, known as Ictalurus melas, swim in the pond.

Largemouth bass eat bullheads. Bullheads are not active fish, so they are an easy target for largemouth bass. Plus, bullheads repopulate at high rates, so there are usually plenty of them available for largemouth bass. Pond owners will introduce largemouth bass if bullhead populations get out of control.

Bullheads usually live in dirty water with low oxygen levels and visibility. They can overpopulate ponds and lakes if they don’t have predators to keep their population under control. Largemouth bass can act as the ideal solution for large bullhead populations. 

Largemouth Bass Eating Bullhead 

If you’ve ever caught a bullhead, you know they don’t put up much of a fight. Plus, they don’t grow very large. Growing up in Minnesota, many of our neighbors had ponds overrun with bullhead and they would beg my brother and me to catch and eradicate them. 

Bullheads grow to an average of 8 to 10 inches and thrive in sluggish water. As a result, carnivorous largemouth bass love them. Even the largest bullheads are no competition for largemouth bass. 

A lake, pond, stream, or river with a healthy largemouth bass population will keep the bullhead population under control. Some pond owners will introduce largemouth bass into the water if they can’t control the bullhead population. 

The water bullheads thrive in isn’t always healthy for largemouth bass, so be careful introducing largemouth into your private pond if the water is filthy and warm.

Bass need cleaner water with enough depth to escape the warm temperatures in the summer and cold temperatures in the winter. Without the proper conditions, largemouths can die in a few months.

Setting Free a Huge Bass the man Just Caught

How Largemouth Bass Eat Bullhead 

Bullheads aren’t evasive fish. However, the conditions they live in can create problems for largemouths. The dirtiness of the water can make hunting extra challenging.

Also, bullheads are active at night, so the darkness adds another element of challenge.

Largemouths have excellent eyesight, so if they can’t use their eyes to their advantage, they must rely on their hearing. They’ll combine their vision with hearing to locate the bullhead and eat them. 

Bullhead are sluggish fish, so the ambush hunting skills largemouth possess make quick work of bullhead. Largemouth sit near structure and cover, wait for bullhead to swim nearby, and quickly move to catch it. 

Largemouth’s aggression and speed is nearly impossible for bullheads to avoid. In the dark, largemouths will use ambient light and their freedom to wander to find the schools of bullhead. 

Where there’s one bullhead, there’s likely more. Largemouths can grow extremely large if they live in the same waters as them. My neighbors’ ponds often had 5- to 8-pound largemouth because of how many bullheads they ate throughout the year. 

Since the largemouth did such a great job of eradicating the bullhead, they shrunk over time because there were fewer bullheads to eat. 

Big bass swim in the sea, their home.

Food Competition

Bullhead do compete with largemouth bass for food. Bullheads eat smaller bass, crayfish, mussels, snails, bluegills, crappies, perch, and insects. Generally, largemouth bass can get their share, but bullhead are often the primary meal. 

When food for bullheads is scarce, it’s not uncommon for them to eat bass eggs and smaller bass, so there is always competition between the two species. 


Bullhead and largemouth bass don’t coexist as well as catfish and largemouth bass. But bullheads are easy for largemouth to catch, allowing them to grow to a substantial size. You’re in for a treat if you can fish a body of water with bullhead and largemouth populations.

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