Alabama’s waters have 450 fish species in 29 families—the most of any state or province in North America. This is because Alabama has a temperate climate, high average year-round rainfall, numerous rivers, streams, springs, and lakes, and a diverse geological setting. Of these 450 fish, the most popular game fish in Alabama is the black bass.
Black basses are found in eastern North America. Black basses have the spiny and soft rayed parts of their dorsal fins joined together into a single fin. They look similar to sunfishes, but are more predatory, larger and longer-bodied than the sunfishes, and have a duller color. Two of the black basses, the largemouth and smallmouth basses, are regarded as prized hard-fighting game fishes.
The largemouth bass grows to a length of 32 inches and can grow as large as 22 pounds. It typically resides in quiet, weed abundant lakes and streams. It can be distinguished from the smallmouth (discussed more below) by its large mouth and a deep cleft in its dorsal fin. Largemouth bass are a spectrum of colors from green to black and are marked with a dark horizontal stripe. Its diet mostly consists of smaller fishes.
The smallmouth bass grows to a length of approximately 28 inches and a weight of 12 pounds. Unlike the largemouth bass, it is usually found in clear waters of lakes and streams. Its color spectrum ranges from green to brown and typically is mottled with a dark color. Like the largemouth bass, smallmouth bass eat smaller fish too.
In addition to the broader categories of largemouth and smallmouth bass, Alabama recognizes the following black bass as game fish in Alabama: largemouth, smallmouth, spotted, Alabama, shoal, and the species formerly called "redeye" bass, which are now known named based on their respective river drainages (e.g. Coosa, Warrior, Cahaba, Tallapoosa, Chattahoochee bass, ect.).