Yes, bass can live in cold water. Largemouth bass are cold-blooded fish, so their body temperatures depend on water temperatures. In cold water, bass will survive, but their metabolism slows, and so do their movements and feeding habits. They barely move and find the warmest water possible.
Largemouth bass continually impress me with their ability to adapt to their surroundings. Growing up in Minnesota, I occasionally fought a largemouth through the ice on a 25-degree-below day. Despite the cold, it was feeding.
Largemouth Bass in Cold Water
Most of their blood moves towards the internal organs to warm their core. As a result, their extremities get less blood flow, so they aren’t as energetic. They don’t move around as much as they would in water temperatures above 50 degrees.
As air and water temperatures drop, bass will find the warmest water possible. This is usually a deep section of water that has yet to be impacted by the surface temperature.
In cold weather areas, bass will find these deep portions of water and stay there for extended periods. Many other fish will follow this method to quickly access as much food as needed. Bass will usually follow the food, so whatever depth schools of shad or smaller panfish hold, bass will do the same.
Northern states like Minnesota and Wisconsin have significant fluctuations in water temperature, but bass adapt and survive. Their bodies have adapted to be able to withstand these changes. So, most bass survive the winter.
However, if cold temperatures hit a traditionally warm part of the country, bass can die in large numbers. A freeze in Florida can shock the bass and potentially harm them. Even though they’re cold-blooded, they aren’t used to slowing down or moving to deeper water.
If you want to eat bass, they taste far better when caught in cold water. There is less blood throughout their bodies, so they don’t have the “muddy” taste they often have in warmer months. Winter-caught bass have a fresher taste.
Ideal Conditions for Largemouth Bass
Largemouth bass thrive in freshwater that’s 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit, but they can survive in water up to 85 degrees.
Anything higher than 85 degrees or lower than 50 degrees will slow their metabolism to where they’re minimally feeding. They wait out these more extreme temperatures until things become normal again.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Cold Is Too Cold for Largemouth Bass?
Water below 45 degrees can become challenging for largemouth bass to traverse. In northern states, 45-degree water is not uncommon. Largemouth will stop biting in cold water.
Do Bass Live in the Cold Ocean?
No, bass are a freshwater fish, so they cannot survive in the ocean.
Can Bass Survive in a Frozen Pond?
Yes, bass can survive in a frozen pond. Largemouths live in deep water because it’s usually the warmest.
Do Bass Bite in the Cold?
Yes, bass will bite in the cold. You must use smaller baits and slow your retrieve, but bass will still feed in the cold water, although it’s a tougher ask once it’s below 50 degrees.
For the most part, bass will survive most of the cold temperatures they face. As long as they have the chance to adapt, they will survive. Their bodies will pump blood to their most essential organs and they’ll hold tight in the warmest water possible.