The Kentucky state fish is Kentucky spotted bass (Micropterus punctulatus), which has been the aquatic symbol of the bluegrass state since 1956 and has been shortened to “Kentucky Bass”.
Kentucky is a historically significant state, and the symbols that have been adopted over the past several years are indicative of that.
Kentucky bass is just one of four different bass species that are local to the waters of Kentucky. Many people believe that the Kentucky bass played an integral part in the fishing industry within the state and even throughout the United States. This, and many other reasons we will be discussing, is why it became an official Kentucky state symbol.
Since the adoption of Kentucky’s state seal back in 1792, many different symbols have been adopted within the state, in the form of animals, horses, mammals, butterflies, trees, fruits, vegetables, amphibians, nicknames, and much more.
What is the State Fish of Kentucky?
Kentucky spotted bass is one of the 475+ bass family members and one of four types of bass you can find throughout the state. They are very similar in appearance to the largemouth bass, in fact, the only way of differentiating them is by the horizontal rows of black spots on the lower side of the adult largemouth bass.
They are one of the largest members of the famous and, unfortunately, close to endangered sunfish family. Typically, in the wild, you will find Kentucky spotted bass residing in streams and clear rivers with a consistent and moderate current.
Kentucky bass also prefer to live in schools, and often, the newly hatched Kentucky bass fry will feed on algae and zooplankton before they mature enough to start eating insects, larvae, and small invertebrates. Once they reach full maturity, they will start eating small fish and even crayfish. These fish lay a lot of eggs too, with a female being capable of laying up to 47,000 eggs in a gravel nest at one time.
Most Kentucky bass fry will take roughly a year to reach full maturity. There are also set “spawning areas” for them dotted around the various streams throughout Kentucky, which contains a more favorable environment. The water temperature in these areas ranges between 57-74°F (14-23°C), which is perfect for female Kentucky bass and their fry.
Facts About Kentucky Bass
Kentucky bass has been around for hundreds, if not, thousands of years, which has led to, over time, many interesting facts and information discovered about them that many people might not have known about.
Here are some interesting facts about the Kentucky bass:
- They live for typically 6 years; however, some have lived for 11 years.
- The maximum length of an adult is about 8 inches (20 cm).
- The best lakes for fishing bass in Kentucky are the Kentucky and Barkley Lakes, Lake Cumberland, Dale Hollow Reservoir, Green River Lake, and Cedar Creek Lake.
- There are plenty of fishing tournaments that take place all across Kentucky on an annual basis.
- The state record-sized Kentucky Spotted Bass was 7 lbs, 10 ozs in weight, with the average weighing only around 3 lbs in weight.
- Micropterus is a Greek saying meaning “small fin”.
Most states will have their symbols showcase a relevant story, that is indicative of the state and its history, and the Bluegrass State puts its history and what it stands for across very well in its state fish.
These interesting facts about Kentucky and a whole host of others are what makes the state so unique and fascinating to those that live there, those that are planning to visit, or anyone researching the historical events of the state and what they symbolize.