Alright let me drop some of my limited knowledge in here.
The genes a bass are born with are the same ones it dies with. Consequently they are the same genes it passes along with each successful reproductive cycle.
Largemouth bass growth is not linear with age. A 5lb fish will on average be 3 yrs old where as a 10 lb fish will on average not reach that weight until 10+ yrs old. Growth rate in weight, and to a lesser extent length, decrease as the bass ages. The natural life span of largemouth is not believed to exceed 15 yrs.
Largemouth sexual maturity is more dependent on size than age and they usually spawn when they reach 10". Some southern lakes with a good supply of food can have 1 yr old fish reach 2 lbs and 14" but the average is around 1/2 lb and just under 10"
Typically a male bass with spawn with multiple females in one spring
The female largemouth bass determines the # of fertilized eggs with each mating encounter. There are certainly variances but, on average a bass makes approximately 4000 eggs per lb of body weight. So a 10 lb bass will typically have 40,000 eggs with each spawn.
Most females will spawn twice in a spring and some will spawn three times over the course of 4-8 weeks.
Male and female bass of all ages and sizes will mate together. They are not selective for big male with big female or vice versa.
Larger females tend to spawn earlier in the year and some believe they tend to spawn in the deeper more protected locations.
Larger females tend to produce eggs that when fertilized are larger and develop at a faster rate giving them a survivability advantage over other fry.
Survival of the fertilized eggs and fry are dependent on lots of factor but water clarity, temperature, and the resulting availability of phytoplankton are key.
Wide variations in the temp, especially drops below the spawn threshold from a late spring, can cause a delay in hatching from the eggs and swim up. Swim up is the stage at which the fry break free from the yolk sac and become feeding little fish essentially. The longer they lay on the bottom waiting to hatch and swim up the more like they are to get eaten. However, those fry that result from the earliest spawns are at an advantage due to a longer period of development prior to the following winter. They also reach a stage of feeding on small invertebrates and fish prior to those spawning later in the year. This change in diet drastically increases the rate of growth. So what does all this mean?
Well that depends on your particular body of water. Where is it? What climate is it in? How much forage will it continuously support to feed your growing school of bass?
If conditions are right, in a southern body of water where late freezes and wide fluctuations in water temp are rare, larger older female fish produce exponentially more
, larger, and healthier fry each spawn than their smaller counterparts. They also do this earlier giving those fry a distinct advantage at both survival and at reaching reproductive capability by the following spring.
In areas with wide fluctuations in water temp and turbid water with decreased suitable amounts of phytoplankton and eventually forage fish, few of the early spawn fry are likely to not reach maturity.
From a pure genetic standpoint, the desired genetics of large fish are constantly diluted with those of less superior mates. It would then be desirable to remove as much of the competing genetic pool as possible. There is no convenient way to identify superior genetics in a young or small fish. Any small fish caught may be the offspring of a genetically desirable fish. Thus removing small fish is a gamble that you may be removing superior genetics. However, removing a large fish is a guarantee you are removing superior genetics. What do I do?
I try to participate in the management of a healthy fish population that produces good numbers of large fish and the chance to catch a really large fish.
So, unless a body of water is truly poor, or the fish looks unhealthy, I return large bass (larger than 5 lbs) to the water, unless that particular body of water has specific regulations requesting the removal of certain size fish.
There are plenty of small bass (and other arguably better tasting fish)out there to collect and eat.
This post was edited on 7/11 at 2:00 pm