Discover the Official State Fish of Mississippi

Largemouth bass underwater in lake.

Written by Mike Edmisten

Updated: September 9, 2023

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Over 280 fish species swim in Mississippi’s many freshwater lakes, rivers, creeks, and ponds, but only one is the official state fish. The official Mississippi state fish is the largemouth bass.

The total economic impact of the freshwater fishing industry in Mississippi is nearly $284 million annually. The largemouth bass is the largest contributor to this revenue as the state’s most popular freshwater sportfish. Mississippi legislators recognized the importance and impact of the fish on their state when they made the largemouth bass the official fish symbol of the state in 1974

Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides)

The largemouth bass is part of the Micropterus genus, which is often referred to as “black bass.” This genus is part of the Centrarchidae, or sunfish, family. 

There are two subspecies of largemouth bass. Both are found in Mississippi, but only the northern largemouth bass is native. The Florida largemouth bass (Micropterus s. floridanus) has been introduced to some Mississippi waters. Florida largemouths are more prevalent in the southern part of the state since they don’t tolerate cold temperatures as well as northern largemouths. Floridas typically grow a bit larger than northerns, partly because they have a longer life expectancy. 

Gaping mouth of a largemouth bass

The largemouth bass is named for its gaping mouth.

©Matt Jeppson/

The largemouth bass is named for its most prominent feature: its large, gaping mouth. Unlike all other bass species, the largemouth has an upper jaw that extends past the eye. With such a big mouth, this predatory fish can consume fairly large prey in proportion to its overall size. Adult largemouth bass predates smaller fish, crustaceans, frogs, bats, worms, snakes, and crawfish. Big largemouths will even prey on small birds, mammals, as well as turtle and alligator hatchlings. 

Largemouth bass are native to North America but have been introduced in Europe, Asia, and Africa. These non-native largemouth bass are now classified as an invasive species in many areas of these continents. Largemouth bass are highly efficient predators that often outcompete native fish for food.

Fishing for Largemouth Bass

Due to their aggressive predatory nature, largemouth bass are the favorite freshwater fish for U.S. anglers. These fish can be caught on a wide variety of lures and live bait. You can see largemouth bass around structures such as docks, trees, and aquatic vegetation. This cover allows the bass to hide as they wait to ambush passing prey.

While the fish is edible, largemouth bass is not a top-tier fish for cooking. Other Mississippi freshwater fish, such as crappie, bluegill, and catfish, are often preferred over bass for table fare. Catch-and-release bass fishing also helps ensure the health of the state’s fisheries for years to come.

smallmouth vs largemouth bass

Mississippi is filled with fantastic waters for largemouth bass fishing.


Mississippi Bass Lakes

The Clarion-Ledger lists the top five state lakes for largemouth bass fishing in Mississippi. As you can see, all of these lakes hold lunker largemouths! For more information on Mississippi state lakes, you can visit the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks website or call the numbers listed below.

1. Lake Bill Waller  

  • Location: Columbia
  • Acreage: 168 acres
  • Lake Record for Largemouth Bass: 15.88 pounds
  • Information: 601-736-1861

2. Calling Panther Lake

  • Location: Crystal Springs
  • Acreage: 404 acres
  • Lake Record for Largemouth Bass: 15.4 pounds
  • Information: 601-892-4776

3. Lake Claude Bennett

  • Location: Bay Springs
  • Acreage: 71 acres
  • Lake Record for Largemouth Bass: 14.75 pounds
  • Information: 601-727-3561

4. Lake Columbia

  • Location: Columbia
  • Acreage: 84
  • Lake Record for Largemouth Bass: 14.75 pounds
  • Information: 601-736-1861

5. Neshoba County Lake

  • Location: Philadelphia
  • Acreage: 138 acres
  • Lake Record for Largemouth Bass: 14.3 pounds
  • Information: 601-656-7376
trophy 12 pound largemouth bass caught with a spinner bait

Mississippi has tons of places where you can land a trophy largemouth.



The Mississippi state record largemouth bass weighed 18.15 pounds. Anthony Denny caught that monster bass on a jerk bait while fishing on Natchez State Park Lake on New Year’s Eve in 1992.

There is a tie for the world record largemouth bass. George W. Perry set the record when he caught a 22-pound, 4-ounce largemouth on Georgia’s Montgomery Lake in 1932. The record was tied 77 years later when Manabu Kurita landed a bass of the exact same weight on Lake Biwa in Shiga, Japan, in 2009.

State Fish

Mississippi is not alone in recognizing the importance of this fish. The largemouth bass is also the state fish of Georgia and the state freshwater fish of Florida and Alabama.

Lifting huge largemouth bass out of lake.

Largemouth bass have been given official status in four U.S. states.

©Maclane Parker/

Other Bass Species

Along with the two subspecies of largemouth bass, anglers in the Magnolia State can also target smallmouth bass. Two subspecies of spotted bass also swim in Mississippi waters: the northern spotted bass (sometimes called the Kentucky Bass) and the Alabama spotted bass.

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About the Author

Mike is a writer at A-Z Animals where his primary focus is on geography, agriculture, and marine life. A graduate of Cincinnati Christian University and a resident of Cincinnati, OH, Mike is deeply passionate about the natural world. In his free time, he, his wife, and their two sons love the outdoors, especially camping and exploring US National Parks.

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