Animals -> Fish -> Freshwater Fish -> Bass


The Maliseet, First Nations of Ontario, Kyuquot, Mi’kmaq, Nootka (Nuu-chah-nulth), Tlingit, and Anishnabeg (Ojibway) (Anishinabek) are known to eat bass [1-7].

It is reported that, in June, the Maliseet journeyed to islands in the Saint John, River where they set up fishing camps to catch fish, including bass [5]. Bass were usually caught with spears, and more recently with trollers [5-7]. The Mi’kmaq used a special fish spear which consisted of a long pole with a bone or ivory tip with a wooden fork on each side [7].

The Mi’kmaq preserved their bass by cleaning, splitting and hanging it on short wooden racks over a smoking fire [7]. The Tlingit were reported to only consume freshly caught bass [4]. The Rappahannock ate bass that were spawning [8].

Smallmouth bass are a widespread and abundant species, which are likely to have been the major bass species consumed by most cultures.

Largemouth bass faunal remains excavated at the Furnace Brook site in Onondaga suggest that the Onondaga Iroquois consumed this fish [9].


1.         Rogers ES: Aboriginal Ontario: historical perspectives on the First Nations. Toronto: Dundurn Press; 1994.

2.         Arima EY: The West Coast People: The Nootka of Vancouver Island and Cape Flattery, vol. Special Publication No. 6. Victoria, B.C.: British Columbia Provincial Musem; 1983.

3.         Clifton JA, Cornell GL, McClurken JM: People of The Three Fires: The Ottawa, Potawatomi, and Ojibway of Michigan. Grand Rapids, Michigan: The Grand Rapids Inter-Tribal Council; 1986.

4.         Emmons GT: Food and Its preparation. In: The Tlingit Indians. edn. Edited by de Laguna F. New York: American Museum of Natural History; 1991: 140-153.

5.         Erickson VO: Maliseet-Passamaquoddy. In: Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 15: Northeast. edn. Edited by Trigger BG. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution; 1978: 123-136.

6.         Kenyon SM: The Kyuquot Way: A Study of a West Coast (Nootkan) Community, vol. Paper No. 61 (Canadian Ethnology Service). Ottawa: National Museums of Canada; 1980.

7.         Prins HEL: The Mi'kmaq: Resistance, Accommodation, and Cultural Survival, vol. Series: Case studies in Cultural Anthropology. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College Publishers; 1996.

8.         Speck FG, Hassrick RB, Carpenter ES: Rappahannock Taking Devices: Traps, Hunting and Fishing. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Anthropological Society; 1946.

9.         Tuck JA: Onondaga Iroquois PreHistory: A Study in Settlement Archaeology, vol. 1st edition. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press; 1971.

Bass are freshwater fish belonging to the large sunfish family. In North America, species of bass include the smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu), naturally occurring in the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes, but also stocked along both coast and in interior provinces, and the closely related largemouth bass (M. salmoides), native to southern Quebec, Ontario, and the Atlantic coastal regions, but also stocked in some lakes in British Columbia and United States. The French common name for the smallmouth bass is l’achigan à petite bouche and l’achigan à grande bouche for the largemouth bass.

Bass, like sunfish, have a long dorsal fin, spiny-rayed in the front and soft-rayed in the back. In both the smallmouth and the largemouth bass, the dorsal fin is clearly separated by a pronounced notch and the tail fin is slightly forked. The upper jaw bone does not extend behind the eye in the smallmouth bass, while it does in largemouth bass.

Smallmouth bass thrive in lakes and streams that contain rocks and boulders, which are deep, cool and clean and are well oxygenated, while largemouth bass most commonly occur in shallow lakes and slow flowing rivers with warmer, often turbid, waters. Both are voracious predators that aggressively pursue aquatic invertebrates and small fish.


Wooding FH: Lake, river and sea-run fishes of Canada. Madeira Park, BC, Canada: Harbour Publishing; 1997.


Images provided below were obtained from: Encyclopedia of Life. Available from
Smallmouth bass
Supplier: Wikimedia Commons
Photographer: Duane Raver, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
This map is based on occurrence records available through the GBIF network
Largemouth bass
Supplier: Wikimedia Commons
Photographer: Duane Raver, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
This map is based on occurrence records available through the GBIF network