Kentucky State Fish

Kentucky Spotted Bass

Kentucky State Fish - Kentucky Spotted Bass

(Micropterus punctulatus)

Adopted on February 27, 1956.

The state fish is the Kentucky Spotted Bass, (Micropterus punctulatus.) The bass was adopted by the state on February 27, 1956. The Kentucky Bass is a species of Micropterus punctulatus. The Kentucky Bass is acclaimed for its gameness and fighting qualities. It also a prized dish to eat. One of four black bass species found in Kentucky waters, the Kentucky bass is primarily a stream fish.

Kentucky State Fish: Kentucky Spotted Bass

Kentucky State Fish - Kentucky Spotted Bass

The spotted bass (Micropterus punctulatus), also called spotty, or spots in various fishing communities, is a species of freshwater fish of the sunfish family (Centrarchidae) of the order Perciformes. One of the black basses, it is native to the Mississippi River basin and across the Gulf states, from central Texas through the Florida panhandle. Its native range extends into the western Mid-Atlantic states and it has been introduced into western North Carolina and Virginia. It has also been introduced to southern Africa, where it has become established in some isolated waters. It is often mistaken for the similar and more common largemouth bass.

Characteristics of the Kentucky Spotted Bass

Also known as Kentucky bass, the spotted bass is a slender fish with black blotches along the middle of the body; with age, these join to form an irregular band.

Micropterus is Greek meaning "small fin."The species epithet punctulatus, Latin for "dotted", refers to rows of dark spots on the lower sides. Coloration is similar to that of Guadalupe bass, but does not extend as low on the body. Spotted bass are not nearly so large and numerous as largemouth bass (in Texas their maximum size is less than one-third that of largemouth bass). Known maximum size in Texas exceeds 5.5 pounds.

The people of the Commonwealth tend to confuse the Kentucky Bass with the Black Basses, but upper jaw stops near center of eye. Long horizontal stripe like largemouth, but Kentucky bass have spots below stripe and dorsal fins are like a smallmouth.

Adult SizeKentucky State Fish - Kentucky Spotted Bass

12 to 17 in (300 to 432 mm). The state and former world angling record (8 lb, 15 oz) was caught from Lake Lewis Smith on March 18, 1978. Prior records include: a 7 lbs. 0 oz. record by Edward Simrell on Jan. 24, 1965; an 8 lbs., 8 oz. record by Wreford James on May 23, 1968; an 8 lbs. 10 oz catch on Feb. 25, 1972 by Billy Henderson.


Spotted bass are native throughout Alabama with the possible exception of the Apalachicola River Basin.


Although a large proportion reach maturity within a year, spotted bass found in spawning areas are usually three to four years old. Rock and gravel are usually chosen as suitable spawning areas at water temperatures of 57-74 °F. Nest depths may vary widely. Females may lay between 1,150 and 47,000 eggs. Males guard the eggs during incubation and for up to four weeks after they have hatched. As young fish grow their diet shifts from zooplankton to insects, and finally to fish and crayfish. Often found in schools.

Kentucky Law

The spotted bass was adopted as Kentucky's state fish by a joint resolution of the Kentucky General Assembly and is not listed in the Kentucky Revised Statutes.

Taxonomic Hierarchy: Kentucky Spotted Bass

Kingdom: Animalia - animals
Phylum: Chordata - chordates
    Subphylum: Vertebrata - vertebrates
Class: Actinopterygii - ray-finned and spiny rayed fishes
    Subclass: Neopterygii
Order: Perciformes, perch-like fishes
    Suborder: Percoidei
Family: Centrarchidae
Genus: Micropterus
Species: Micropterus punctulatus

State Fishes
State Fish