Ha, well, clearly after reading all of these posts it seems as though there is a whole lot of hot air being produced about this subject. haha. Before I go through and explain why some of these answers cannot possibly be correct let me just say...I don't know what the real answer is. I'm not going to pretend to know what I'm talking about. The first time that I ever caught one of these bass was when I was 15 and was on vacation with my family in the northeast. I talked my dad into pulling the rental car over at Lake Ontario and I fished from shore for a while. I caught a 4lb largie flipping at a bridge piling and it had these black blotches on it. Ever since then I've tried to gather as much info as I could about these dark blotched fish and what I've found is...no one really knows what causes it. I have read several documents of studies done by universities trying to figure out the cause and in each one, no one is able to find out the real answer. There are always speculations, but there is no for sure answer.
Now, let me explain why most of these answers are just plain silly...haha
Heavy diet of crawfish? This can't be for several reasons. Well, considering the fact that the first reported cases of these dark blotches didn't appear until the 1980s in the northeast...and crawfish and bass have existed for much longer than that...sometime before the 1980s, bass had to have been eating a lot of crawfish. Also, back in January, I caught about a 14" largemouth out of Lake Travis that had these blotches on it. I took him home with some spotties to filet for dinner. I have a habit of inspecting what fish have been eating on the rare occasion that I decide to bring some home. The fish with the dark blotches...had a belly full of shad. Not a single crawfish in him. Last of all, I've been bass fishing for most of my life and grew up in the west. I've caught literally thousands of bass out west, and not a single one of them ever had these dark blotches. Now, I've also vacationed out east several times, and now after living in Texas for a few months...there is a reasonably high percentage of fish that I've caught out here with these blotches. You'd think that if it was caused by eating lots of crawfish, those fish out west (where there's also lots of crawfish) would occasionally have these blotches.
Time of year? Makes no sense either. Whenever I have visited the south or the east coast it has always been in the summertime. I caught just as many of these dark blotched fish during the summer as I have been catching for the past months living here in Texas. Also, I moved here back in October, and I caught the dark blotched fish with just as much regularity then as I do now. The only reason I can think of someone thinking it is the time of the year is because in general, most guys catch more fish in the spring than at other times of the year. Therefore, catching more fish in general, means catching more fish with blotches. And yes, I have caught fish as small as 9" with these blotches.
Parasite? This could be feasible...but there is no real supporting data yet. Most findings so far indicate probably not though...
Moving from deep, dark water, to shallow sunny water? No way...again, if this were the case, you'd think that out of the thousands of bass I've caught in my lifetime in the super deep lakes we've got out west, at least one of them would've had these blotches.
Anyways...the answer is a resounding...who knows? Maybe someday we'll figure it out...