The Meanmouth Bass: All About One Rare Hybrid Species

While fishing O.H. Ivie Reservoir in March 2021, a central Texas lake known for monstrous largemouth and smallmouth. Wyatt Franken’s landed a 7lb 9oz, world record smallmouth-largemouth hybrid bass, commonly referred to as a meanmouth bass.

Initially, Wyatt Frankens thought he had a giant smallmouth, but after showing the behemoth to a few fishing buddies, they helped convince him to reach out to Texas Parks and Wildlife and get the fish tested. Sure enough, the guys were right, and this rare catch landed Wyatt’s name in the record books.

meanmouth bass
Wyatt Frankens with the world record meanmouth. Credit: USA Today

What Exactly Is A Meanmouth Bass?

The meanmouth bass is most commonly a hybrid species that occurs when a spotted or largemouth bass mates with a smallmouth bass. Smallmouth and spotted bass frequent the same habitat and often come into contact with one another leading to offspring when smallmouth and spotted bass interact. Largemouth and smallmouth usually live in separate habitat locations and rarely come in contact so offspring from these two species do exist but are extremely rare. 

An article from In-Fisherman.com credits Dr. William Childers and his colleagues at the Illinois Natural History Survey with naming the meanmouth bass when they began studies on sunfish family hybrids in the mid-1960s. The researchers discovered different black bass species failed to hybridize when stocked in ponds with members of another species such as all males of one species with all females of the other species. However they noted fertilizing largemouth bass eggs with smallmouth bass sperm produced an offspring that could reproduce themselves and with both largemouth and smallmouth. 

Why Do They Call Them Meanmouth Bass?

Childers originated the meanmouth bass term when he observed a school of largemouth/smallmouth hybrids attacking a female swimmer. He noticed the bass leaped from the water and struck her on the head and chest and drove her from the pond. He also watched meanmouths attack a dog that had ventured into shallow water at the pond. Whatever the origin of the meanmouth name, the fish is aptly labeled because it has the ornery characteristics of a spotted bass and the aggressive nature of a smallmouth bass. 

Where To Find Meanmouth Bass

Meanmouths are most frequently found in waters with abundant populations of both smallmouth and spotted bass such as Table Rock Lake in Missouri. Georgia and Missouri are two states that officially report the presence of meanmouth bass. The Missouri state record hybrid black bass is a 5-pound, 10-ounce meanmouth from Table Rock Lake.   Kentucky is in the middle of the crossover zone of smallmouth and spotted bass, so the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is requesting any anglers who catch a meanmouth bass to bring it to the department for scientific study.  

A 7-pound, 9-ounce meanmouth caught in March by Wyatt Frankens at O.H. Ivie Reservoir in Texas was confirmed by the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife as a smallmouth-largemouth hybrid. The meanmouth was listed as a state record and was recently confirmed by the International Game Fish Association as a world record black bass hybrid. 

Some of the best lakes for catching these bass include Table Rock Lake in Missouri and Lake Ouachita in Arkansas. Any finesse techniques that produce smallmouth and spotted bass (drop shot rigs, shaky head finesse worms and finesse jigs) will also trick these fish.  Meanmouths seem to mix with smallmouth and spotted bass schools so any spots you target for spotted bass or smallmouth– such as rocky points and bluffs–will be prime areas to catch meanmouth bass.

Feature Image: Wyatt Jenkins (angler) and USA Today (source)

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