The smallmouth bass, like the largemouth, is a member of the sunfish family. It differs from the largemouth in appearance and often in where it lives. Both species have large mouths, but on the smallmouth the maxillary (upper jaw bone) extends back only to the midpoint of the eye; the largemouth’s reaches to the rear of the eye or beyond. While these two species are known as black bass, neither is particularly black. Smallmouths are bronze or brownish in color and they may have vertical bars on their sides. Both species live in fresh water, but smallmouths generally prefer rockier areas and cooler water than largemouths.
The smallmouth is a very popular sport fish, considered by some “the gamest fish that swims.” It does not grow as large as its big-mouthed relative; an individual eighteen inches long is good-sized.