In the rushing streams and clear cool waters found from Minnesota to the Hudson Bay, the prized smallmouth bass feeds on crayfish, insects and the occasional bait launched into the water by a hopeful angler.
They can be greedy, as freshwater scientist Gretchen Anderson Hansen found while collecting crayfish in a lake in Vilas County, Wis., when she found herself being observed by a handful of hungry smallmouth bass.
Anderson Hansen, who does her research work with the UW-Madison Center for Limnology, was able to protect her samples this time around, but she’s not always so lucky. She says “opportunistic” bass “often grab her ‘samples’ before she gets a handle on them.”
Smallmouth bass are native to the Mississippi River watershed and spread into lakes around Minnesota during the 1800s including Lake Vermillion and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
An eight-pound small mouth caught in Otter Tail in 1948 is recorded as the largest catch of this fish in Minnesota.